Offers of help as they move from lorry to flat

Rice delivery man Mr Ong and his wife, Ms Nguyen, in their temporary two-room HDB rental flat. ST readers have offered to donate items like beds and fridges as well as baby cots and other necessities such as nappies to help them in their new life.
Rice delivery man Mr Ong and his wife, Ms Nguyen, in their temporary two-room HDB rental flat. ST readers have offered to donate items like beds and fridges as well as baby cots and other necessities such as nappies to help them in their new life.PHOTO: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

More than 100 people have offered to help a couple whose home used to be a lorry because they could not afford to rent a flat.

Rice delivery man Ong Poh Hwa, 44, told The Straits Times last month how he and his 34-year-old pregnant wife, Ms Nguyen Thi Phu Vinh, slept on cardboard sheets and washed in public toilets at a Changi Beach car park.

Although the Housing Board helped the couple to move into a temporary two-room rental flat in Bedok North last week, readers have written in offering to donate items such as beds and sofas as well as fridges and microwave ovens.

 
 

There were also offers of baby items such as cots, clothes, nappies, milk powder and toys.

However, the couple have refused monetary donations.

Part-time real estate agent Molly Thong, 55, who offered her barely-used sofa bed, said: "I really respect the couple. It's touching that they want to build a new life with their own efforts.

"I saw from the picture that they sleep on only mattresses (in the flat), so this is the least I can do."

Mr Ong met his wife in Vietnam while working there for a rice exporter from 2009 to 2013.

They registered their marriage in June last year and she applied for a long-term visit pass in November.

Last month, it was reported that the homeless couple had spent two years in Mr Ong's work lorry and are expecting their first child in August.

Some donors have offered to deliver the items themselves, while others wrote in simply to ask if they could help in any way.

Retired doctor David Tay, 66, is offering a dining table and chairs, a bed and a baby cot. He said: "Hopefully these can lighten their financial burden when the baby comes along."

Mr Ong said he was moved by the offers: "Singaporeans have a warm heart. These are strangers but they still want to help us."

While the couple cannot accept all the donations because their flat is small, Mr Ong said: "I can only accept what we need, like a fridge and a bed. But I appreciate all the kind thoughts."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2016, with the headline 'Offers of help as they move from lorry to flat'. Print Edition | Subscribe