When I was 17, I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy during a routine National Service health check.
Your donations help patients receive medical care and devices that can transform their lives. Mr William Ngo is one of many grateful patients who have benefited from your support. He shares about the difference you have made to his life.
“I cannot walk, button up a shirt or lift a cup of coffee, but my electric wheelchair makes it possible for me to earn a living painting landscape watercolours.
Yet I only learnt to paint after I became too ‘disabled’ to work.
When I was 17, I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy during a routine National Service health check. The genetic condition causes the skeletal muscles to gradually waste away. I tried my best to hide my condition so I could continue to work in a jewellery factory. But after 10 years, my arms became too weak and I had to leave my job.
I started selling lottery tickets to support myself. Then my friend, Raymond, who is a mouth artist, suggested that I join him at an art class. I was worried about paying for art supplies and lessons but my pastor said it would be good for me to learn a new skill and that the church would help me financially.
I was 48 years old when I attended my first art class. I took the pencil in my mouth and couldn’t do anything except make marks on a piece of paper. But my teacher was very good, he never gave up on me and with his guidance, encouragement from my friends and a lot of practice, I gradually improved.
I started doing watercolours and about nine months later, my paintings were good enough to be accepted by Mouth & Foot Painting Artists (MFPA). This is a for-profit foundation run by disabled artists to help them earn money.
I’ve now been painting for five years. Every Wednesday, I leave my home in Bukit Batok and catch the train to Mountbatten to paint at the MFPA studio. I make a living selling my art and I also enjoy playing the harmonica.
I earn enough to support myself, but last year my electric wheelchair needed to be replaced. A new one cost just under $15,000 and even with assistance from SG Enable Assistive Technology Fund I was still short. I shared my financial worries during a check-up with Dr Umapathi, my specialist at National Neuroscience Institute (NNI). Thankfully he helped me access the NNI Fund which covered the balance so I was able to get my new electric wheelchair.
“To those who give to the fund, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your gift is so much more than a set of wheels – it has given me the power of freedom so I can leave my home, work and continue to give back to society by sharing my journey with others.”
- William Ngo, Beneficiary, NNI Fund
If you would like to support patients in need and neuroscience research, please visit: https://www.giving.sg/nnifund