Budget 2016: Disabled artist made money from paintings, thanks to A Packet Of Rice volunteers
Disabled artist made money from paintings, thanks to A Packet Of Rice volunteers
He has poliomyelitis, a degenerative muscle illness.
As his flat is too small to make moving around in a wheelchair comfortable, Mr Low Mun Chong, 52, prefers to crawl around.
That's how ground-up initiative A Packet Of Rice found him.
Founded in September 2012, the volunteer group distributes a lunch box and daily necessities twice a month to 250 elderly folk living in rental flats in Bukit Merah.
The group's founder, Mr Vincent Goh, 35, said that when the team entered Mr Low's flat, a surprise awaited them.
They saw that he was a talented artist. It was evident in the nine beautiful paintings on the wall and on the floor.
The group sold the paintings for Mr Lowat prices of between $250 and $450, and raised $3,300 for him.
Mr Goh, a civil servant, said: "We gathered the buyers at his flat to personally pass him the money. This made the sales more meaningful."
Mr Low said: "I did not expect that my paintings were good enough to be sold. I paint as a form of therapy and to keep myself occupied. I am very grateful to A Packet Of Rice."
He said he used the money to buy painting materials and is still painting today.
A Packet Of Rice's Facebook page has more than 15,000 likes and Mr Goh said he frequently receives e-mails seeking advice on how to start a charity project.
But the group today is a far cry from when it first started.
For its first distribution project in 2012, Mr Goh dug into his savings and contributed $1,000. The group's four other co-founders contributed several hundred dollars each.
He said: "I definitely didn't mind contributing the $1,000, which helped provide a meal for 180 elderly folks.
"The project has to start and it has to start from my friends and I."
Relying mostly on donations from friends, the group could only hold distributions once a month at best.
It had not intended for the project to be a long-term one. But as word spread through social media, it received more donations and volunteer sign-ups.
From a lunch box and a banana in 2012, the elderly beneficiaries now get up to eight daily necessities, such as shampoo and laundry detergent, per distribution.
Still, the $25 million fund targeted at ground-up initiatives that was announced in yesterday's Budget may prove useful, said Mr Goh.
Called Our Singapore Fund, it will support projects that build national identity or meet community needs.
Mr Goh said: "The fund is definitely beneficial for people who have the passion to start their own projects. It is another source for funding."
He said he will look into the fund's terms and conditions and consider applying for it when more details are available.
The increase in the basic monthly cash allowance under the Public Assistance scheme will also prove useful, he said.
It is meant for those permanently unable to work, and have little or no means of income and family support.
He said: "Many elderly residents say the current allowance they are receiving is just enough to get by.
"They are worried they do not have any buffer allowance in case they fall ill."
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat also made a few other notable points in Budget 2016.
Measures introduced to the property market in 2010 will remain in place to keep the market stable and sustainable. He said that based on the price levels and current market conditions, it was "premature" to relax these measures.
Personal Income Tax Relief Cap
There will be an $80,000 per year cap on the total amount of personal income tax relief an individual can claim.
New Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus
Coney Island will see a new OBS campus as part of the National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan. The campus, the second in Singapore after the existing campus on Pulau Ubin, will be ready around 2020 at a cost of $250 million.