Photo credit: MATTHEW ONG


Matthew Ong, 23, has always had a passion for helping people. On his 19th birthday, instead of spending money on an extravagant party, he took the opportunity to buy groceries for the less fortunate and homeless population of Singapore. He believes that building up other people’s lives is something that everyone should take on.

Tell us more about how you started doing what you do for others, and why.

The week before my 19th birthday, I found myself doing some research on the less fortunate in Singapore. I came across an article about the homeless in our country, and at that point, I decided that I could spend my birthday giving something to those who needed help.

With the help of a few friends, we went around Singapore giving out packages of food, water and other daily necessities. From then on, I have continued doing this whenever I have the time.

What were some of your fears when wanting to reach out to others like that?

I was afraid of getting rejected by strangers, or worse, that they would get angry because this gesture made them feel uncomfortable. I was also afraid of missing out on people who could have used the little help we were giving out.

How did you overcome those fears?

I recognised that even though it was my birthday, this effort wasn’t about me but the people who might have needed that act of kindness. And even if I missed out on anyone because we can’t help every single person in one day, I would continue to bless as many as I could from that day on.

You were featured in The New Paper for making a difference, could you share more about what that was about?

The heart behind this story was to show how most of us are blessed to have simple necessities in life like food, water and a place to live in, and that there are people in our nation who don’t. Through this piece, I shared that if a teenage boy like me could make a difference, anyone or any age also could.

People often see the homeless as people to avoid. What would you say about that?

No one chooses to be homeless. For me, I have learnt to love people regardless of their background or beliefs, and for who they are as people. The homeless are important people to society as well.

I hope that one day, those who avoid them will have a change of heart, and see that these people have equal value as our fellow countrymen.

What would you say to anyone who wants to do something similar for others?

If you need a helping hand, you can always contact me! And also, enjoy yourself – no matter how big or small, the things you’re doing for others has an impact on people’s lives.

Even if it’s something done for just one person, your actions can have a ripple effect that reaches even more. Never forget that.

This article was published on Sep 13, 2021

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