At just 13 and the youngest of six children, Muhammad Azri Ramlan helps to look after his wheelchair-bound father, bathing and changing him.
On top of that, the Crest Secondary School student juggles his schoolwork and playing for the school football team.
For his efforts, the Secondary Two Normal (Technical) student was yesterday given the Temasek Cares Resilience Award during the school's official opening ceremony. (See report on right.)
He was one of six students from the school's nearly 600 students who was celebrated for resilience in character and good performance.
Speaking to The New Paper after receiving his award, the soft-spoken and bespectacled teen said he has "improved a lot" since he first joined the school last year.
He had behavioural problems and did not like going to school, Azri said, but did not want to elaborate on what these problems were.
He said: "I (didn't) want to go to a normal school because there will be Sec 4 students (Crest Secondary only has three cohorts of students now) and there may be some very bad guys there. I'm scared I'll be a bad student. I don't want to follow their footsteps."
Azri's father had been paralysed from the waist down since he was involved in a motorcycle accident nearly a decade ago.
His mother, the breadwinner of the family, works as a night shift porter at the National University Hospital.
Madam Aminah Osnam, who is in her 50s, looked proud when she was on stage with her youngest child to receive the award from Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.
She had to rush off to work immediately after the ceremony.
Of Azri's six siblings, three are married and another sister was taken in by a relative, leaving Azri and his 17-year-old brother to help out around the house.
Their father, who is in his 50s, needs help with simple tasks like using the bathroom and showering. The boys also have to help with his diapers.
"At first, I was disgusted. But I know I need to help (my father) so I try my best to tahan (Malay for persevere)," he said with a small smile.
Teacher-in-charge of the football team, Mr Fahmee Buang, who nominated him for the award, said: "Despite his age, he is going through what an adult would go through, yet he does so without complaining."
Home is a four-room flat in Bukit Batok, and Azri takes a 30-minute bus ride to get to school in Jurong East every day.
In the beginning, he was playful and did not focus in class, he said.
But after several pep talks from his teachers, including Mr Fahmee, Azri pulled his socks up and buckled down to work.
Mr Fahmee said: "There are some days when he looks tired, but he doesn't complain and he always tries his best in school." Azri now considers mathematics his favourite subject despite not having any tuition.
"Last time, I used to pass, but now at least I can get a C," he said.
Asked about his future plans, Azri said his mother hopes he can enter a polytechnic after going to the Institute of Technical Education. "But I think that will take very long... Because I want to come out and work quickly so I can help my family," he said.
This article was first published on August 1, 2015.
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