We visited the brothers about thrice a week for the past 2 weeks, and through constant interaction, Young Ng has started to open up to us slowly. Young Ng is exactly seventy this year, with Old Ng being one year older. Their parents used to own a provision shop under the block but when the shop was taken back by the government, they were offered priority to get this current flat at about $30,000. That was a good thirty plus years ago and the brothers slowly paid for the flat with their CPF contributions.
Both of them used to work in PUB – Old Ng in human resource and Young Ng a technician assistant. Young Ng retired in year 2003 and he tried looking for another job thereafter but was unsuccessful. The brothers lived on their CPF withdrawals until about two years ago. Both of them have had operations within the last couple of years and being older folks with no medical insurance, the medical bills ate into their meager savings. Since then, they have been surviving on the GST offset packages plus a three hundred dollars monthly payout from an investment plan which old Ng took up many years back when he was still working. If not for this investment plan, they might not even have food on their table now.
To add insult to injury, they once paid a contractor close to two thousand dollars to replace the windows in the house but the contractor absconded with the money! Young Ng pursued the matter and was advised he needed to pay an additional five hundred dollars to track the contractor down so he had no choice but to drop the case unwillingly. We tried asking more like whom he sought help from and such but he was unable to furnish us with the details and he can only vaguely remember the incident from a few years ago though it was a painful lesson learnt.
Because of the monthly payout from the investment plan and the four room flat as an asset, they have never attempted to apply for social welfare help before, neither did they know how to. Their parents and siblings have all passed on, and when we asked about their relatives or friends, young Ng just softly answered “no more” in Mandarin. We refrained from probing more, as from the looks of it, it seems that they kept to themselves but at least they still have each other for now.
Young Ng also told us, their mother was a cat lover and they have always had cats in their house. The brothers had a previous batch of about eleven cats which they had to send for boarding close to a decade back. They have constantly up kept their cats monthly fees at the boarding place and with only two cats left there now, the boarding place is kind enough to have stopped asking them to pay. Young Ng still visits the cats once in a while when his knee allows him.
During our trips to their place, we brought in some necessary items for them like sleeping bags, an additional fan, a reclining chair, straw mats and most importantly, cat litter trays and cat food. The chair is for Young Ng, who sleeps with his head rested on the dining table in the living room because of the cats. The cats fight at times during the night and he can stop them immediately if so to avoid disturbing the neighbours.
The cat litter trays helps a great deal in absorbing the smell of the cat discharge, and the cats are slowly learning to use them, even the kittens. However, we realized there are more cats than initially counted. We have already taken out 10 kittens and 2 more will be removed soon. Unfortunately, there were a few other kittens who did not survive. Four kittens have already been kindly adopted and we are looking for fosterers/adopters for the rest of them. The adult cats are up for adoption too. If you have the space for one or two more feline members in your heart and house, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
As for the adult cats, we have already taken out 17 of them. All the above have been sterilized, microchipped and vaccinated. Some of them were treated for various medical conditions. They are being boarded together now and the rest of the cats still in the house will join them shortly after their vet checkups. The cats are actually quite skittish and they hide in many different areas of the house. We estimate there are still about 15-20 cats left, which brings the total number of adult cats up to about 35 - 40!
Minor cleaning has already been done by a small group and we thank many who have volunteered to help with the cleaning. A list of furniture has also been collated but we can only bring anything new/additional in after the renovation. We are in the midst of finalizing the renovation plan with the contractors and hope to be able to start work soon. A few non-profit organizations have actually taken the initiative to link up with us and offer assistance to the brothers and we are glad to update everyone that everything is progressing well.
We will update again in due course when more works have been done and we are sincerely thankful to each and every one of you out there who contributed money, time, effort and items, or even shared this story, for every bit of help helps. ☺