Bursary handy for school supplies for family of 10
When ITE student Mohamed Firdaus Irfan Ali Amran's uncle told him about the HomeTeamNS Children's Education Awards, he signed up for it without any expectations.
Three months later, his parents, Mr Ali Amran Mohamed Sharif, 47, and Madam Zeenat Aman, 40, received a letter informing them that Firdaus was among 71 students chosen to receive the award.
Firdaus qualifies for the award as his father did his national service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
The bursary amount is based on the child's level of education.
Firdaus received $800 in cash and $200 in vouchers.
His parents were pleased as the voucher windfall could be used for school supplies for the 18-year-old, who is a second-year ITE student, and his seven siblings.
Firdaus is the second-eldest of the eight children who are between the ages of seven and 19.
The teenager is also happy about the award as he feels he has a responsibility to help take care of his younger siblings.
He is planning to give the $800 to his mother to divide among the children as pocket money.
The family of 10 lives in a four-room flat and has a monthly household income of $3,500.
Firdaus' father works as a cargo coordinator while his mother works as a part-time cleaner.
The HomeTeamNS Children's Education Awards was introduced in 2004 to support the education of children of HomeTeamNS members.
Since then, it has disbursed over $1.3 million of education awards to over 2,000 children.
The criteria includes family income. To qualify, applicants must either have a monthly household income of under $2,500 or less than $625 per capita.
The child also has to perform well academically, be involved in co-curricular activities and community involvement programmes. Firdaus has worked various jobs since the age of 16 to help out with his family's finances.
He is currently working at a salad bar where he earns $8 an hour. He works two to three weekdays on top of the weekends.
He said: "Now, because of the award, I can rest more during the weekends."
Even though he is only 18, Firdaus has a maturity that transcends his years.
Said Mr Amran: "He does not rely on us (his parents), and he is very independent."
Madam Zeenat added: "He is thrifty and does not anyhow spend his money. He saves for all the things he wants."