SINGAPORE - Mr Izzuddin Taherally lost his father at age 11 and was so poor that he did not even have a proper home. But he managed to rise from poverty through education and wanted to give back to show others that they could do the same.
"That motivated me to do something so that other people will not go through what I went through," said Mr Izzuddin, 62, president of the Malay Youth Literary Association, a job he has held for 25 years. Altogether, he has served about four decades in the social service sector.
As president of the charity, he helped initiate programmes such as Ramadan On Wheels, in which youth volunteers give out food to the needy, and Enhance Step-Up, which offers counselling to at-risk youth and school dropouts.
On Saturday (Sept 5), at the 2015 Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) Awards, Mr Izzuddin won the Jasa Cemerlang (Excellent Service) award for his lifelong achievements and contributions to the community.
"Community work is a marathon, there's no ending to it. We should continue as long as we feel we can contribute," he said.
Long-service awards were also given to eight winners, and for the first time, a special Muis SG50 award was given to 11 people for their contributions to Singapore's development.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said of the winners: "They have gone out of their way... to ensure a strong foundation for the Muslim community to forge ahead. I hope the younger generation will be inspired to carry on this legacy."