Making a difference: Singapore teen spends birthday helping the homeless
We are featuring six everyday heroes have made a difference in the lives of strangers. Their heart-warming deeds are celebrated in the ongoing Good Man Good Deeds Good Rice campaign, a collaboration between Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao and Tong Seng Produce, which will donate 500kg of its SongHe rice and 60 litres of canola oil each to charities of their choice
Mr Ong Kah Hong's 19th birthday was not spent celebrating with a party and friends.
The student, who turned 19 on Sept 22 last year, used his birthday to distribute self-made gift packs to some 70 homeless people in Singapore.
Mr Ong took about $200 out of his own pocket to create these gift packs, which contained items such as mineral water, bread, medicated oil, toothbrush and toothpaste.
He bought these items and assembled them into gift packs during the day of his birthday.
He then checked online to see the locations homeless people frequent and set out to areas such as Little India and Old Airport Road by car with three friends.
Instead of immediately presenting the gift packs, Mr Ong and his friends first approached the homeless men and women to chat with them and get to know them better.
Mr Ong said: "They actually want to talk to someone more than they want the gift packs.
"Some of these homeless people have drifted apart from their families and are lonely.
"So when they see me reaching out, they immediately think of me as their son."
And the homeless have stories to tell.
A 70-year-old man told Mr Ong that he had an injured hand that left him unable to work because he was assaulted without reason while sleeping on the streets.
An 80-year-old woman said that because she spent all her time working hard to support her children through school, she grew apart from them and was eventually kicked out of home in her old age.
Mr Ong's eye-opening experience began at 8pm on the night of his birthday and wrapped up only at 5am the next day.
He said: "It may have been tiring but it was worth it.
"Birthday meals don't have much significance, but I think I spent this birthday in a meaningful way."
He was inspired to do more for the homeless in Singapore after discovering through a news article a few weeks before his birthday that a number of people here are homeless.
Mr Ong even made a video of his efforts to reach out to the homeless and posted it on Facebook, hoping to raise awareness about local homelessness.
He explained: "If I can touch 70 people in one day, think of the impact if 100 people did this together with me."
Mr Ong's choice of charity is Matthew 25, set up by the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Matthew 25 has a soup kitchen every day aside from Sunday and public holidays and also offers free haircuts.