‘Resilient’ children, young people earn dream all-expenses paid holiday to Manchester
Twelve-year-old Nur Aleeya Antasyah Mohamed Yazzid’s hard work to improve her mathematics bore fruit in more ways than one.
Not only did she pass the subject in the recent Primary School Leaving Examination, she also earned a fully paid trip to Manchester, including tickets to watch English football club Manchester United play at Old Trafford and tickets to the hit Hamilton musical at the Palace Theatre Manchester.
Seven other children and young people will also get to go on the all-expenses paid seven-day trip, from Dec 4 to 11.
Besides the football match, the itinerary also includes visits to historical sites such as Ordsall Hall and the Science and Industry Museum.
The educational trip is sponsored by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim and his son, Mr Kiat Lim. It is organised by The Hut, a children and youth centre in Marine Parade GRC, which provides a drop-in space and support for those between the ages of five and 17 who are from lower-resource backgrounds.
Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, who is an MP for Marine Parade GRC and patron of The Hut, presented the awards to the eight children and young people at The Hut on Nov 25.
Mooted by Dr Tan, the trip, which costs $100,000, is to reward and inspire young learners.
Dr Tan told the recipients that studying goes beyond the classroom and he wants them to go out there to learn about things that are happening around them.
“The Government will continue to work out multiple pathways for those of us who may not be as academically inclined. For you and for every one of our children... to always have multiple paths for success... multiple grounds to achieving your dreams. Just remember, don’t stop dreaming,” he said.
Each child will be accompanied by one parent or caregiver.
Ms Nyan Fei Ting, executive director of The Hut, said: “These children and youth put in the effort to do well despite their circumstances. Thankfully, with the sponsors’ support, they are able to go on the trip.” She added that the children and young people were selected for their school attendance, effort to improve themselves academically, and their participation in the EduGrow tuition programme at The Hut.
Mr Kiat Lim believes that the children and young people “deserve an opportunity to be inspired to pursue their dreams regardless of their backgrounds”.
“Supporting them is not only about providing educational scholarships but giving them opportunities like this trip to Manchester to learn different things, be more exposed, and enable them to grow beyond their immediate circumstances. It is a privilege for us to be able to make this happen for them,” he said.
The trip sponsorship is in addition to a $20 million pledge the Lim family has made towards community projects for children.
To prepare for the trip, The Hut conducted a donation drive to provide warm clothing for the recipients due to the expected minus 10 deg C weather in December.
Aleeya, who attended Ngee Ann Primary School, will be accompanied by her mother. She is particularly excited to watch a live football match in a world-class stadium.
“I used to envy my friends when they told me about their holidays to China, Paris and South Korea – I’d wished that I could go too,” said Aleeya, whose mother is a housewife and father a dormitory executive.
“I have never taken a plane before. This will be the first time my mother and I fly in an aeroplane. I can’t wait to get out there to see the world. It will be a valuable experience for me that I will remember forever.”
Another recipient, Lucas Lim, is also excited to be taking an aeroplane, but even more so, is looking forward to bonding with his father during the trip.
“My father works at a char kway teow stall. He works almost the whole day. I hardly get to spend time with him. Sometimes, I will take a bus from home to see him at the hawker centre,” said the 12-year-old from Tao Nan School.
Lucas had to learn to be independent at a young age – he juggles schoolwork with helping to take care of his sister, 10, and buying food for her. He is grateful for the free maths and English tuition he received at The Hut.
His father, Mr Cody Lim, 33, told The Straits Times that he is looking forward to their first father-and-son trip.
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Eman Essai from CHIJ Katong Convent could not believe the news that she had been chosen.
“I didn’t believe my mum when she told me about the trip as I didn’t think my results were good enough to be selected,” said the teenager, who is excited about the cold weather, the food and watching Hamilton.
Grateful for the support she received at The Hut, Eman wants to give back by helping out at the centre, now that her O-level examinations are over.
For Muhammad Shafiq Amirul Muhammad Faizal, who will turn 16 in December, the trip will be the best birthday present.
“It will be my first overseas trip and I hope to make new friends outside of Singapore,” said the United fan from Ngee Ann Secondary School who is eager to watch his favourite player, Lisandro Martinez, play at Old Trafford.