Legal Service Officer wins President’s Award for Youth for volunteer work
He used his law degree to give back to the community through setting up scholarships, workshops and lecturing
For Mr Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir, who grew up in a three-room flat in Bedok North, life was not always easy because of his family's tight finances.
Despite this, he graduated with a law degree from National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2005 and, in 2009, earned himself a Masters of Law from Harvard Law School.
And it was the scholarships he received in NUS and his parents' example of giving, such as providing home-cooked food to mosques, that inspired Mr Faizal, 35, to give back to the community in large doses.
His contributions were recognised last night when he received the 2015 President's Award for Youth from President Tony Tan Keng Yam, during the President's Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) ceremony at Conrad Centennial Singapore Hotel.
SPIRIT OF GIVING
Five others also won the award, which honours those who have set benchmarks of excellence in encouraging the spirit of giving in Singapore. The award was given to both individuals and groups.
On receiving the President's Award for Youth, Mr Faizal, a Legal Service Officer with the Attorney-General's Chambers, told TNP: "I see it as an indicator that I have been able to make some small steps forward to make a difference in the lives of others in the way so many others have made a difference in my life."
About nine years ago, Mr Faizal approached his alma mater, Bedok View Secondary School, and set up the Bedok View Scholarship, which he continues to fund. The scholarship is given to needy students who show promise and have performed well academically.
Mr Faizal set up a similar programme in Tampines Junior College, also his old school, last year.
Since 2005, Mr Faizal has also been contributing to Mendaki Club and served in its executive committee from 2007 to 2011.
In particular, he has been involved in Mendaki Club's Young Minds' Club Program, which provides Malay/Muslim secondary school students opportunities to hone their social and leadership skills and to develop into well-rounded individuals through structured workshops.
Thanks to his legal background, Mr Faizal is a volunteer lecturer and facilitator with the Singapore Mediation Centre, giving mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution training.
Over the years, he has been involved in a variety of training initiatives, including mediation and negotiation courses for students taking the Singapore Bar Examinations and lectures and workshops for mediators in Community Mediation Centres.
Despite his achievements and contributions, Mr Faizal remains modest.
"Giving back is a journey and not a destination and I look forward to being allowed to continue to serve the community and society in the years to come," he said.
I see it as an indicator that I have been able to make some small steps forward to make a difference in the lives of others in the way so many others have made a difference in my life.
- Mr Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir
She keeps hope alive for others & herself
ROUTINE: Madam Phua doing her Sunday door-to-door knocks to identify the needs of each resident and provide them with immediate help. TNP PHOTO: SITI NUR AISHA OMAR
Since she was 16, Madam Fion Phua has been going to orphanages and old folks' homes to do volunteer work.
In 2007, she set up an informal volunteer group called Keeping Hope Alive (KHA) to meet the urgent needs of the less privileged.
From a one-woman charity, KHA has grown to a large community of over 50 volunteers.
Yesterday, the group won the 2015 President's Award for Informal Group at the President's Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards (PVPA).
Madam Phua, 45, a club membership broker, said of her volunteer group: "Keeping Hope Alive is my life. It's in my blood and winning the award is not a self achievement but a group achievement."
Every Sunday at 7.30am, KHA volunteers go knocking on doors of one or two-room rented flats to identify the needs of each resident and provide them with immediate help.
For example, elderly residents who may slip on bathroom floors get anti-slip mats and motion sensors for their flats. The group also install wooden ramps at the doorways of those who are wheelchair-bound to enable them to get in and out easily.
The volunteers distribute food, clean houses and provide furniture and household appliances.
They also help pay for the residents' bills, groceries and arrears.
One volunteer, Ms Victoria Teo, 32, a secondary school teacher, said: "I decided to volunteer with KHA because of its model of volunteer work, where it's very hands on and everyone helps out. It's not like when you go to an old folks home and just sing songs for them."
Madam Phua may have visited many flats, but there's one she is unlikely to forget.
She recalled, while visiting a flat, volunteers could smell a stench coming from one of the homes.
When they knocked on the door, a woman answered and told them to keep quiet as her mother was "sleeping".
The mother had actually died two days earlier.
Madam Phua said she was upset when she found out that other residents had noticed the smell, but did not do anything..
"This is the problem with society. People sometimes don't care about others because they feel like they can't even handle their life so why care about other people?" she said.
She hopes that Singaporeans do not just pity the needy but have compassion for them.
"Doing volunteer work enriches my heart and I do not just keep the hope alive for others, but I also keep hope alive for myself," she said.
Keeping Hope Alive is my life. It's in my blood and winning the award is not a self achievement but a group achievement.
- Madam Fion Phua
President's Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2015
President's Award for Corporate Category
President's Award for Non-profit Group
President's Award for Informal Group
Keeping Hope Alive
President's Award for Youth (Individual)
Mr Mohamed Faizal Mohamed Abdul Kadir
President's Award for Adult (Individual)
Mr Toh Soon Huat
President's Award for Senior (Individual)
Mr Ngiam Tong Yuen