Nine days ago (on April 11, Tuesday), Jessica Ong’s one-year-old Electrolux refrigerator exploded suddenly.
Ong, 25, was out working at the time, as was her husband of one and a half years. Both of them ride rented scooters and do UberEats deliveries for a living.
The result: their entire rented HDB flat in Serangoon North Avenue 1 was annihilated, and the home they had carefully saved up to build and furnish in the course of their marriage was destroyed.
In fact, the couple had to be informed about the fire by the authorities.
Their friend, Faizal Khalid, posted a video and photos of the aftermath of the fire on Facebook, appealing for help from Singaporeans:
Speaking to Mothership.sg, Ong said she and her husband doubted their ability to afford a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat, as they both do not have much in their CPF or savings accounts. They had rented a flat from HDB while planning to save up enough to buy a new home under the BTO scheme.
Unfortunately, she said they were not informed at the time what kinds of fire insurance schemes were available. Besides, no one would expect a reasonably new piece of furniture (the fridge was a few days over a year old at the time, and its warranty had just expired) to spontaneously combust.
What happened next was quite moving for the couple, though:
Outpouring of help, offers of items
Within the same day Faizal’s post went up on Saturday, April 15, the couple received multiple offers of assistance. These came from shopkeepers, small business owners, and other folk with spare furniture to share.
And by Tuesday, April 18, just one week on from the fire, Ong’s husband started uploading pictures of the numerous items they received:
1. A microwave
2. A TV
3. A shower water heater
4. A queen-sized bed frame and mattress
5. A table and stools for the kitchen
6. A water boiler (not pictured here, but this is probably the kind person who donated it)
7. Mattresses and an ironing board
8. Kitchen ware
9. More hangers
10. Clothes donations — because they lost all of theirs to the fire too:
11. A wardrobe
12. More kitchen ware
13. And another table:
More stresses and worries ahead
Ong said apart from the above, she has responded to an offer to donate a fridge to her, and added that she has spent the remainder of her savings on a stove so that she can cook instead of buying food from outside.
She told us that because her warranty on the fridge had just expired, Gain City (where she purchased it from) told her they were unable to do anything for her. She hasn’t contacted Electrolux directly yet, though.
Ong also shares there are certain things she can’t ask for and has to save up to buy on her own, like undergarments, and other necessities like toiletries.
There are other sources of stress and strain too: how to pay for utilities, for instance, and the monthly rental payments she has to make to HDB, which the couple now cannot afford because 1) their savings have been wiped out and 2) they have lost nine days worth of earnings from the days they have spent sorting out their house and belongings.
That said, though, Ong told us she and her husband are “very grateful and thankful to all the kind-hearted Singaporeans who stepped forward to offer help and support us through this difficult stage” of their lives.
“All these people have really helped us and lightened our load,” she added. “We’ll try to figure things out from here onward.”
If you’d like to offer the couple any additional assistance, Ong can be reached at +65 8420 0550.
Top photo from Faizal Khalid’s Facebook post