Recognised for going out of their way to help others

As the head of the social development policy department at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), Mr Mohamad Zulfadhli Mohd Gazali, 40, often goes out of his way to help those who apply for financial aid.

His main job is to develop, review and implement social welfare policies for the disbursement of Zakat, or alms, but he makes it a point to talk to those who apply for aid to better understand their needs.

So it was no surprise he went the extra mile when his colleague Asri Sunawan, 42, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

When Mr Zulfadhli found out three years ago that Mr Asri, a former news presenter, had the motor neurone disease that causes loss of muscle control, he got a few colleagues together to record video messages to cheer him up.

He also drove Mr Asri to and from work daily and accompanied him to physiotherapy appointments.

In the past year, he worked with Mr Asri and others to administer and disburse $2.22 million under the Covid-19 Muis Support Fund, easing the financial burden of 5,500 households.

Last Friday, Mr Zulfadhli was given the Exemplary Service Excellence Award.

Other recipients were Mr Tee Meng Kem, 50, and his wife Irene Goh Bee Yok, 51.

The Star Partner Award winners have been working as patient advocates of the SingHealth Patient Advocacy network and as parent volunteers with the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) diabetes team to help parents whose children have diabetes.

When they found out in 2006 that their daughter Yu Tong had Type 1 diabetes, they took the diagnosis very hard. It was only after they attended a camp at KKH and met other parents who went through the same experience that the couple came to terms with the diagnosis.

Since then, the couple have gone back to the camp every year to volunteer, helping other parents like themselves.

The couple said their daughter's courage motivates them to keep volunteering. Yu Tong, who is 18 and mostly manages her condition herself, has never cried when taking her insulin injections.

"The mummy was the one who kept crying," said Ms Goh. "Her bravery helps me stay strong."