For 10 years, 77 year-old Zhu Jin Yuan has lived without brushing his teeth, bathing or cleaning up the trash in his house.
Neighbors living nearby know the man and his house by the terrible stench coming out of his 7th storey flat at Block 106, Jalan Bukit Merah. They also described the man as severely unkempt – neighbors have spotted large blood-suckinng ticks crawling on the man’s body.
When the media visited the man’s flat, reporters could smell the odious stench from afar.
According to a neighbor, 40 year-old Madam Lim, Mr Zhu has been living at the unit for over 20 years, loves rearing cats and usually spends his time sitting at the stone bench below his block.
The founder of non-governmental organization “Keeping Hope Alive”, Ms Fion Phua, discovered the man by chance when her staff were distributing free durians for residents near Mr Zhu’s block.
When volunteers eventually turned up at his house, what shocked her was the state of the man’s house.
“He didn’t even have a tooth brush or a bar of soap. When asked if he hasn’t brushed his teeth or bathed in for over 10 years, he kept quiet and mumbled that he hasn’t.” Ms Phua said.
There were nests of ticks and other insects crawling around his dilapidated home, and Ms Phua’s volunteers saw first-hand how ticks would crawl out and around Mr Zhu’s body and clothes even as he walked around doing his daily business.
With the goal of helping Mr Zhu improve his personal circumstances, Ms Phua’s volunteers set out to clean Mr Zhu’s house and provide him with a much needed make-over.
Ignoring the stench, Ms Phua’s hardworking and gutsy volunteers cleaned out Mr Zhu’s home, bringing in stocks of soap and hygiene products for Mr Zhu’s future use.
Ms Phua also realized that the man was having breathing difficulties, possibly from living in a dirty environment for too long, and arranged for him to visit a doctor.
Volunteers helped Mr Zhu get rid of the ticks on his body, using paper tissues to squash the blood sucking ticks on Mr Zhu’s body, clip his toe and finger nails and wipe off the dried mucus and dirt on his body.
After discovering that Mr Zhu was rearing 5 cats in his home despite having no money for regular meals for himself, volunteers convinced Mr Zhu to give up his pets so that they could seek a better home.
All 5 cats were infested by fleas and were seen constantly scratching themselves till they bled. One of the cats has gone blind, possibly due to an untreated illness. The cats were handed over to Voices for Animals, an NGO animal help group.