As I was taking photos of the well-liked Wow Wow West hawker stall, I was promptly stopped by a young girl who exclaimed “Who are you shooting?” She then quickly apologized for her snappiness, explaining that the stall employed several ex-offenders who did not want to appear in pictures.
I introduced myself to Elizabeth Ng, the owner of this hawker stall branch. She was only 23 yet spoke with much maturity, all bursting with smiles and energy when I was there late in the evening.
The western food stall supported the Yellow Ribbon Project by hiring ex-offenders and ex-drug addicts to work at its branches. Elizabeth was frank enough to say that she hersel was rebellious years back and knew what it was like to be a delinquent. It was Jesus and her father who gave her life a U-turn.
Her life as a hawker started when she was helping out her father’s first stall at Raffles Institution, which was named “Wow Wow West” by the boys. Their delicious and affordable western food fare earned much popularity from the RI boys. They made the decision to leave because earnings during the extended periods of holidays were low, “I don’t know why, but this school has too many holidays.“
When asked what some of here challenges were, she said that some customers could be really difficult and ‘ngeow’. “They want many packets of chilli and extra ingredients for the same amount of price.”
She would try to meet their requests, but one demand she could not meet is to remove the skin from chicken chops and cutlets. “The frying process will hurt my workers”.
Elizabeth might be dismissed as just another ‘young ah lian’ from her appearance, but her entrepreneurial skills and to-do spirit is admirable. Her latest addition of selling German franks had proven to be a hit with customers because it was not readily available elsewhere.
She made a promise to work superiorly hard, even though working in an oily and hot hawker environment is not what many young girls would enjoy doing. “I am thankful for my father for giving me a second chance, and the opportunity to prove myself.”
Redhill Hawker Centre; or 6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-133 ABC Brickworks Food Centre S150006
Mon to Sat: 11:00 – 21:00
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