SINGAPORE - He was in the midst of preparing for his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) when his father suffered a serious head injury.
To make matters worse, Arash Nur Iman's father was also diagnosed with cancer.
The Fuchun Primary School pupil said his grades slipped for his mid-year and preliminary examinations.
"During that period, I kept wondering if he was okay. I was distracted in class," the 13-year-old added.
But he soldiered on and earned a PSLE score of 244 which secured him a place at the School of Science and Technology.
On Friday (July 6), Arash was one of 60 beneficiaries of an education award by the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) and Samsung Electronics Singapore, which contributed $20,000. The students, who did well in the PSLE exams, received cash awards ranging from $250 to $600.
Arash's father is unable to work due to his condition and his mother works in the shipping industry. They are receiving financial assistance.
Arash, who received $400, said the money will allow him to purchase textbooks and stationery.
Mia Katriel Tay also received an award at the event held at the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) News Centre.
The former pupil of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School said she struggled to balance her studies with gymnastic practice when she was younger.
Mia, who is from a single parent family, was part of the national team and had to train six days a week, for about four hours each time.
The 13-year-old would only hit her books at 7.30pm. But with her mother's help, she secured a PSLE score of 251.
She said the $450 award will allow her to pursue her secondary school education at her current school while balancing her passion for gymnastics.
"I had to drop out of training a few times because I was unable to pay for it... this fund will help me pursue my passion in gymnastics," Mia said. This is the fourth consecutive year that students are awarded for their achievement in the PSLE exams by the fund.
At the award ceremony on Friday, Mr Lee Jui Siang, president of Samsung Electronics Singapore and Mr Warren Fernandez, chairman of STSPMF, presented the awards to the beneficiaries.
The STSPMF provides pocket money to children from low-income families to help with school-related expenses, such as buying meals or paying for transport. Since 2000, the fund has helped over 160,000 children and youth and disbursed over $61 million.