When 2-month old David (not his real name) was fostered by Mr Tan Thian Huat and Madam Mary Chan, many family members were sceptical of the couple’s decision to foster a child with congenital disorders. The Tan family provided round-the-clock care and never gave up on David. The couple gave David not just a happier life, but also a fuller one. Unfortunately, David passed away at age 13 in April this year. He will be dearly missed by the Tan family.
Mr Tan Thian Huat and Madam Mary Chan are among the 247 volunteers honoured at the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Volunteer Awards (MVA) tonight. MSF paid tribute to volunteers with seven Outstanding Volunteer awards, 14 “Friends of MSF” awards, and 163 Long-Service awards.
Foster parents received top honours at the ceremony for their efforts in caring for and protecting vulnerable children. For the first time, two pairs of foster parents received the Outstanding Volunteer Awards. One foster mother was awarded the 40-year Long Service Award for her long-standing contributions. To date, she has fostered 42 children.
Outstanding volunteers were chosen for their exceptional contributions and dedication in serving the community. Among them were:
- Mr Ashraf Koh & Mdm Asiah Binte Mohamed Salleh
Madam Asiah Binte Mohamed Salleh and her husband Mr Ashraf Ko have been foster parents since 2004. They are foster parents to three children, including a child with Down Syndrome.
Despite being foster parents to a total of six children over the last 11 years, caring for a child with special needs is particularly daunting. But not once have they thought of giving up.
Mr Ashraf Koh and Mdm Asiah are also caring for two other teenage foster daughters. Both are doing well academically, thanks to the couple’s unwavering dedication. They are also still in touch with another foster daughter, who has since left their home, but still remembers their care well.
- Mr Tan Thian Huat & Madam Mary Chan
Mr Tan and Mdm Mary Chan fostered David Tan (not his real name) when he was just two months old. Though he was born with numerous health complications, the Tans gave David a happier and heartier life.
Unfortunately, David was diagnosed with neuromuscular
scoliosis in 2014 and passed away in April 2015, at age 13, due to complications from a major surgery.
The Tans have two daughters and two grandchildren of their own.
- Mr Cyril Chua Yeow Hooi
Besides providing pro bono legal services at the Law Society, Mr Chua serves as the Chairman of the AMKFSC Community Services. The AMKFSC provides a spectrum of community-based services in Central and North-East Singapore, including Family Service Centres (FSCs).
Under his leadership, the AMKFSC expanded its suite of programmes and facilities for the disadvantaged in the community.
In 2010, the Bakery Hearts project was launched to help housewives from needy families earn extra income. In 2011, the Nexus Family Resource Centre was set up to provide psychosocial support to off enders, ex-off enders and their families. Transition Plus+ was started in 2012 to help low-income and multi-stressed families living in Interim Rental Housing.
- Professor Ho Lai Yun
Prof Ho has been an active advocate of the care of children. One of the initiatives he kick-started is an Early Intervention programme that aims to integrate children with special needs into mainstream schools.
The pediatrician is also a keen advocate of the Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) sector and is the chairman of the VWOs-Charities Capability Fund Evaluation Panel. Under his leadership and guidance, over $50 million in grants have been channelled to upgrading the professional and service capabilities of these organisations.
- Mr Noel Hon
The chairman of the ComCare Enterprise Fund (CEF) since 2009, Mr Hon is committed to helping the disadvantaged find meaning in life through employment and participation in the society.
Launched in 2005, the CEF provides seed funding to sustainable new and existing social enterprises that train and employ the needy disadvantaged in Singapore. Target beneficiaries include those with disabilities, ex-off enders, former drug abusers, youth at risk, those recovering from psychiatric illnesses and individuals from low-income households with multiple problems.
Since its inception, the CEF has helped many social enterprises such as the Eighteen Chefs restaurant, which employs ex-convicts.
- Professor Lim Pin
Prof Lim Pin is an internal medicine specialist and the chairman of the board of directors at the Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC). His early experience in life has shaped his regular participation in non-profit committees such as the National Wage Council, the Singapore Millennium Foundation, which funds medical research, as well as the Board of Trustees for the Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital.
Since the set-up of the SNTC in 2008, Prof Lim has played an instrumental role as its Chairman, steering the company into the role of a trust and care manager.
His motivation stems from his lifelong belief that everyone, regardless of personal circumstances, should be able to live with dignity.
- Mr Gerard Nonis & Mdm Susanna Daniels
Mr Gerard Benjamin Nonis and Madam Susanna Daniels have played mom and dad to five foster children for the last 14 years. The couple is quick to go the extra mile in engaging other professionals, such teachers and counsellors, to meet the needs of their foster children.
As advocates of the Ministry's Fostering Scheme, the Nonises also participate actively in the promotion of the programme.
More than 360 guests attended the ceremony hosted by Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin. In recognition of award recipients who have dedicated their time and effort to serve the community, Minister Tan said, “Volunteering and caring for others is not an easy task. There are times when our volunteers are under-appreciated. They may even be rejected by those whom they are trying to help or blamed for not doing enough. But their strong sense of compassion has spurred them to persevere and help those in need, often in their darkest hours. That is why it is important for us to appreciate and give recognition to our volunteers. They have shown that when every one of us plays a part, we can create a strong community of support for Singaporeans.”
Full list of award recipients:
Outstanding Volunteer Award
Friends of MSF Award
Long Service Award