Turning over a new leaf: Ngiam serving tea to senior citizens at the House of Hope and Light.
KAJANG: He used to roam the streets in his Jaguar and live a life of luxury in his bungalow, and spent 30 years getting high all the time.
Ngiam Thong Eng, 69, a former thug, gave it all up after going through rehabilitation.
He now drives a Perodua Kenari and would sleep in a corridor.
Knowing what it was like to have gone through hell, Ngiam set up his own rehabilitation centre in 2012 to give others a second chance in life.
The centre located here, called House of Hope and Light, houses up to 20 residents comprising drug addicts, the mentally challenged and senior citizens.
“No one is going to help them. If I don’t help, there is no turning back for them.
“I was touched by the care given to me when I was in rehab.
“I vowed to help others and give back to society.
“My life advice to all is to never partake in harmful drug use, not even a single puff.
“One puff is too many, a thousand puffs are never enough,” said Ngiam.
Before setting up the House of Hope and Light, Ngiam volunteered at another rehabilitation centre for more than 10 years.
During that time, he slept on the floor by the corridor every night, fearing that the drug addicts would run away in the middle of the night.
Ngiam was under the influence of drugs for 30 years until he was 50, but his extraordinary commitment over the next 19 years has earned him a clean track record.
Besides tending to his residents’ needs such as preparing food, cleaning up, changing diapers, showering and counselling them, what sets him apart from the rest of the care centres is that the people he has taken in are “extreme cases”.
Other care centres would not accept them because of the severity of their condition.
Besides the tremendous care and money that Ngiam has invested in these people, his daily duties also expose him and the other social workers to danger.
Ngiam recalled a few incidents when the house was in an utter mess with curtains torn down, windows smashed and furniture destroyed.
In another incident, mentally challenged patients ambushed the social workers, almost killing a 21-year-old employee.
Persatuan Rumah Caring Kajang director Wendy Yap said Ngiam is now a changed man compared to the person he was years ago.
Ngiam used to volunteer at Yap’s centre before he set up his own.