Cleaning Up Bodily Remains At 15: S’pore’s Youngest Trauma Cleaner Is Her Dad’s Trusted Sidekick

18-Year-Old Qasrina Rahman Started Working As A Trauma Cleaner At 15

Qasrina Rahman, by all appearances, is an average 18-year-old who fits the girl-next-door archetype. She enjoys following K-pop group BTS, sketching house interiors, and staying at home if she’s not working or hanging out with friends.

Sounds pretty standard, right?

But only those who truly know her would know that she works the unconventional job of a trauma cleaner, and has been doing so since she was 15.

Qasrina Rahman cleaning the house of a man who passed away there

For the uninitiated, trauma cleaners are dispatched to clean the houses of individuals who have died alone, and each job can last between two hours to an entire workday.

Facing death regularly – rather than fazing her – actually interests the shy and introverted teenager, who has followed her father to his job for almost three years.

18-year-old trauma cleaner started when she was 15

Qasrina was exposed to trauma cleaning through her father, Rahman Razali. Known as one of only a few trauma cleaners in Singapore, the 40-year-old runs the business with his wife, and the young Qasrina would look at pictures her dad took on the job with interest.

Though the images were filled with blood, bodily fluids, and maggots, she became interested in seeing such scenes, where death has claimed a life, with her own eyes.

The house of a recently deceased man in Bukit Batok.

“I was curious about what my father was doing,” she shared with MS News.

One day in 2020, Mr Rahman got a last-minute afternoon trauma cleaning request, and his other workers were busy with other jobs, leaving as the sole cleaner. Rather than let her dad do the job alone, Qasrina volunteered to help.

“I was a bit doubtful (about taking her along),” Mr Rahman told MS News. But Qasrina seemed ready, and he had no other options. So, he decided to let her come with him.

Qasrina with her father, Rahman Razali

Although she was nervous, she was excited at the same time. Of course, she knew that there wouldn’t be any bodies. However, the smell was something one could only experience to understand what it was like.

It turns out Qasrina is a natural when it comes to being a trauma cleaner. Even though most would baulk at the odour and the sight of blood, bodily fluids, and not to mention maggots, Qasrina approached the task with a straight face.

She cleaned the scene alone for an hour, wiping the bloodstains and clearing up while Mr Rahman went to get supplies.

He was shocked when he returned to a mostly cleaned-up scene, especially because it was Qasrina’s first time on a job. From then on, she has come along with him at least twice a week.

The trauma cleaner with the strongest mental fortitude

While Mr Rahman and his other staff will take breaks if the cleaning lasts a long time, Qasrina is more focused on getting the job done as soon as possible, so she won’t take any breaks.

Perhaps her introversion helps with this, as she tends to spend her time thinking while performing her cleaning.

She also works under an obligation to complete her task and has to be prepared for the environment. “Mentally, you must be prepared to see the remains like hair and nails… you cannot be so weak lah,” Qasrina emphasised.

It satisfies her to look at the houses she’s done cleaning and know that she made a difference.

Dealing with judgment

Many are unaware of what a trauma cleaner does, and superstitious beliefs do not help.

As a result, both Qasrina and her dad have encountered people who avoid them out of fear of contamination.

However, trauma cleaners do not deal directly with bodies — they are removed before the cleaning starts. They are also dressed in full personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid bacteria contamination.

Qasrina and her father at work

Regardless, Qasrina has experienced judgment, even from her own friends.

One time, she went to meet her friends right after a job. They asked, “Eh, you already showered or not?”

It was only after Qasrina explained that she wears PPE that they understood.

She’d like her friends, especially the girls, to understand that her job is generally safe.

However, she hasn’t succeeded in convincing her female friends to try trauma cleaning so far, as they are still squeamish. In that sense, Qasrina is definitely a rare breed.

Artist focused on trauma cleaning for now

For now, Qasrina’s day-to-day routine revolves around trauma cleaning, earning her around S$100-S$200 per job.

But the budding artist is interested in interior design and enjoys sketching objects and humans in her free time.

Qasrina with her sketches of house interiors

Though she says it’s because her job is tiring, we get the sense from talking to her that she’d prefer to stay at home with her parents and five siblings even if she weren’t a trauma cleaner.

None of her siblings, who are between less than a year old and 15, are trauma cleaners — yet.

Qasrina isn’t quite sure if she’ll continue with higher education yet, having just graduated from secondary school last year.

For now, she’s mainly seeing where her interests take her, and currently, that interest is in cleaning up the scenes of those who’ve died at home, wondering about what their lives may have been like when they were alive.

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