He manages studio that enables the disabled
Wheelchair-bound at 12, he now manages social enterprise and teaches architectural draughtsmanship to disabled people
This National Day, we celebrate with 16 stories of people who overcame adversity to give back to society. Read their stories and watch the videos at tnp.sg/ndp2016
Mr Timothy Ang was only seven when tuberculosis attacked his spine, paralysing him.
"Doctors told my parents I needed surgery but being conservative, my parents were not keen.
"With that decision, my condition deteriorated," said the 61-year-old Building Information Modelling (BIM) studio manager.
He became wheelchair-bound at age 12.
"It has become my constant companion for almost 50 years," he said.
The Angs lived in a kampung, making it difficult for Mr Ang to live at home. So he spent most of his childhood in Mistri Wing, a children's ward at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
"That allowed me to have an education. Teachers from St Hilda's Primary School would come regularly to the hospital to teach us English and mathematics," he said.
"I wasn't good in taking tests and failed in Primary 3 and had to repeat several years. Unfortunately, by the time I was competent enough to take the Primary School Leaving Examination, I was 14 and too old," he said.
Also at 14, he could no longer stay at Mistri Wing and was moved to the Singapore Cheshire Home.
"But there was this one teacher, Miss Judy Tan, who came regularly with tons of story books. She encouraged me to read them, do comprehension and write essays," he said.
Despite not having paper qualifications, Mr Ang is well-read. But his poor qualifications and medical condition got in the way of him finding a good job. He could only do home-based data entry jobs, which did not pay well enough.
By then, he had moved home to be with his family.
"They lived on the second floor and there was no lift there. I had to call the neighbourhood police for help each time I went out or came home. The officers would come and carry me and my wheelchair to the ground floor or up to the second floor," he said.
Mr Ang met a few good cabbies, who would help him back to his flat without being asked to.
"They even waived their fees. But not all were kind. I remembered one particular cabby who told me to just stay at home and not give anyone trouble," he said.
Despite the negativity, Mr Ang took up a three-year architectural draughtsmanship course after receiving a circular from the Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA) and was part of its first batch of students.
Today, Mr Ang manages the BIM Studio, a social enterprise initiated by HWA and architect Yeo Chye Teck of Caide Architects, teaching other disabled people architectural draughtsmanship.
Located at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru, the start-up empowers persons living with disabilities (PWD) through the practice of architectural draughtsmanship and interior designing.
The Enabling Village is an integrated community space developed by SG Enable as part of Singapore's efforts towards building an inclusive society. Tote Board is the development partner of Enabling Village.
"Students here spend their time learning architectural design. We have weekly lessons on different software, like Auto CAD, and we also take on a range of real-life projects for organisations. I'm proud to say that a few of our students are working for clients such as Changi Airport," Mr Ang said.
"With determination and, of course, divine providence, there is nothing a person with disability cannot do. I'm glad I have been given the chance to prove that despite my disability, I can still be useful to the community."
"I’m glad I have been given the chance to prove that despite my disability, I can still be useful to the community." — Mr Timothy Ang
TNP SPIRIT OF 16 GIVINGBACK
The beneficiary is Disabled People’s Association (DPA)