SINGAPORE – Former secondary school teacher Muhammad Ashik Mohamed Daud did not hesitate to help victims when Cyclone Mora struck Myanmar in May 2017.
Mr Ashik, 30, who has volunteered with the Singapore Red Cross since 2014, joined others in the organisation and headed into the devastated area.
“The disaster destroyed a lot of homes and buildings and schools. We went there to assess the impact the disaster had on education, and to see how we could implement programmes to help the children for the long term,” he said.
The avid volunteer has embarked on dozens of projects to help the less fortunate since 2014.
In 2018, he led a team to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to provide medical screening and consultation for Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and the local host community.
“I oversaw security matters during the trip. The situation was chaotic but good. It was one of the most meaningful experiences I was able to contribute to,” Mr Ashik said of his two-week deployment.
His selfless work was recognised on Monday (Sept 30) when he was given a Commendation Award – one of 56 people and 20 organisations honoured by the Singapore Red Cross for their humanitarian work.
Another volunteer, Mr B. Senraya Perumal, 30, received the High Commendation Award for driving the elderly and disabled to healthcare facilities.
The awards ceremony – held during Singapore Red Cross’s 70th anniversary – recognises volunteers and other organisations that have supported humanitarian services run by Singapore Red Cross.
Around 300 guests attended the event at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, including volunteers, corporate partners and a group of Red Cross veterans in their 70s and 80s.
The awards were presented by President Halimah Yacob, who is patron of the Singapore Red Cross, and the organisation’s chairman, Mr Tee Tua Ba.
The organisation, set up here in 1949, provides humanitarian services, including disaster relief around the world.
It also runs a local blood donor recruitment programme and a home and day activity centre for the disabled.
Mr Tee told the gathering: “In the early days, we ran the nation’s night ambulance service, dispensed medicine at the Red Cross Clinic, read books to patients in local hospitals and cared for the Dutch and Vietnamese refugees who transited in Singapore in the 50s and the 80s.
“Our volunteers were the first responders at local disasters, including the Bukit Ho Swee fire, the floods in Potong Pasir, the collapse of Hotel New World.
“Besides providing essential services as the auxiliary to the Government, our veteran volunteers also laid the foundation of Singapore’s social service.”
Madam Halimah said: “Today, Singapore Red Cross continues to fulfil many critical roles by serving the vulnerable through community befrienders, medical chaperones, first-aiders, blood advocates and relief workers.
“As the needs of our society and community evolved, so did Singapore Red Cross’ humanitarian services. It introduced new services to ensure relevance in closing the social gaps that have developed.”
The President also conferred the Singapore Red Cross Humanitarian Award, the highest of its honours, on Mr Tee for his 12 years of leadership in the organisation.
After the awards ceremony, Madam Halimah officially opened an exhibition and an online portal (myredcross.sg) that showcase the history of Singapore Red Cross and the International Red Cross Movement.
The month-long exhibition highlights the organisation’s history and its vast humanitarian operations through stories, artefacts and a collection of 200 Red Cross-themed postage stamps.
It will be set up at four malls throughout October – Junction 8, Raffles City, The Star Vista and Heartbeat @ Bedok.
Said Mr Tee: “Going forward, there is still much we have to do.
“Bearing in mind the future of a rapidly ageing Singapore, we are bringing essential services, such as befriending and home monitoring, into the homes of single-elderly, and health checks and physiotherapy to their doorsteps.
“We will continue to reinvent our services to stay relevant.”