National Day Awards: Grassroots leader reaches out to needy

Mr Omar, a long-time grassroots leader, has helped set up tuition classes for pupils from disadvantaged families, and worked with social service groups to help the needy. His efforts also include heritage preservation - he set up the Javanese Associa
Mr Omar, a long-time grassroots leader, has helped set up tuition classes for pupils from disadvantaged families, and worked with social service groups to help the needy. His efforts also include heritage preservation - he set up the Javanese Association of Singapore last year "to share Javanese culture with people from other races".ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Mr Omar Ismail

Chairman, People's Association Mesra

Public Service Star

On weekends, Mr Omar Ismail, 56, can usually be found at the Bukit Batok East Community Club, running community programmes or helping his neighbours.

The long-time grassroots leader has helped set up tuition classes for more than 100 pupils from disadvantaged families, and worked with social service groups to help poorer families. They include a 24-year-old man holding a part-time job because he had to take care of his bedridden father, and a widowed parent earning just $300 more than her rental bill.

"We need to go down to the ground to see who needs help. We cannot wait for people to come to us," said Mr Omar, chairman of the People's Association's coordinating council for its Malay Activity Executive Committees or Mesra.

LOOKING TO HELP

We need to go down to the ground to see who needs help. We cannot wait for people to come to us.

MR OMAR ISMAIL, chairman of the People's Association's coordinating council for its Malay Activity Executive Committees or Mesra.

Preserving heritage is also close to his heart. Last year, he set up the Javanese Association of Singapore, which showcases cultural performances such as Javanese dance and wayang kulit (shadow puppetry).

"I decided to set it up to share Javanese culture with people from other races, and with our children."

Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Grassroots leader reaches out to needy'. Print Edition | Subscribe