The mood at the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Training Centre was jubilant last Saturday, as it played host to over 400 individuals from communities in need. Participants from 30 Singapore-based social service agencies traipsed excitedly through the aisles of SIA’s cabin mockups, getting a rare look at the magic that goes behind delivering the iconic SIA experience.
Their two-hour journey behind the scenes included a tour of key training facilities, amongst which the observation of the flight simulators was a crowd favourite. Participants also relished the opportunity to engage with SIA’s family of pilots, cabin crew and engineers who shared about their roles at the airline and the intensive training that they undergo. For lunch, participants sampled a selection of the airline’s popular in-flight meals, such as nasi lemak, chicken ball congee and the signature satay.
SIA CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong and guest-of-honour Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s Minister for Social and Family Development, graced this event, and joined in on the fun alongside the participants.
This Open House was the culmination of the SIA Cares week, and the organisational efforts of more than 500 Singapore-based SIA staff volunteers. Abroad, the event saw the participation of 800 staff volunteers in over 50 cities, each contributing in their own unique ways to the SIA Cares week. From Frankfurt to Jakarta, staff volunteers visited schools, homes and charities, giving beneficiaries a flavour of SIA’s signature hospitality and care by delivering meals and engaging them in an array of activities.
For two months, the SIA Cares fundraising drive in Singapore saw the airline’s business partners, staff and members of the public pooling their efforts to raise funds for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS) and SPD, a Singapore-based charity dedicated towards helping people with disabilities of all ages. Their hard work paid off when they raised $1.3 million, which SIA matched dollar-for-dollar to a total of $2.6 million.
Out of these funds, $1.3 million will go towards CPAS. The funds will enable CPAS to set up a play sensory room at CPAS School (West), and augment its special education programmes by purchasing assistive technology and equipment that help to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. This will support more than 800 of CPAS’ beneficiaries.
SPD plans to use the $1.3 million that it receives to purchase three wheelchair-friendly vehicles and fund transportation-related costs. This will enable over 80 beneficiaries to travel to SPD’s Day Activity Centre (DAC), where they acquire self-help skills through social and recreational programmes. This provides much-needed respite for their caregivers to rest or go to work, knowing that their loved ones are well cared for.
But aside from the generous funds that will go to these meaningful causes, what’s most valuable is perhaps something that money cannot buy.
“Seeing the look of elation on one of the participants’ face when he tried on a pilot captain’s cap, made me feel that all this was worthwhile”
Looking back on this day, Chen Qing Yi, Singapore Airlines Assistant Manager (Learning and Development), shares, “For me, the highlight of the day was the look of pure joy and elation on one of the participants’ face when he tried on a pilot captain’s cap. Seeing that made me feel that the months of preparation for this event was all worthwhile.”
The SIA Cares Open House marks the first time that the airline has hosted participants from communities in need on such a large scale. The joyous memories forged between staff and participants during this event will surely be treasured for a long time to come.
As 12-year-old Raeburn Persis Estella, a student at CPAS, puts it, “The Open House was very fun and interesting because I got to go on a tour of the training centre. I saw the flight attendants training in the mock-up cabins. It was very cool. I also got to talk to real pilots and captains and interact with the crew members.” For Estella and doubtlessly many other participants, the richly-packed events of the day have ignited their sense of wonderment and awe.
“It was heartwarming to witness the connections they built in the short span of time. This to me, is truly inspiring”
The Open House also brought to fore SIA’s spirit of service excellence and care. Susan Tan, a member of the staff at CPAS, enthuses, “We were greeted with warm smiles the moment we arrived, and the guided tour was well-planned to ensure our beneficiaries enjoy the experience. We got to witness the SIA staff volunteers’ exceptional teamwork and collaboration, as well as their ability to work cohesively and efficiently. They embraced every task with a positive attitude – a true testament to SIA’s culture and professionalism.”
“Every SIA staff volunteer showed genuine empathy and compassion as they engaged with our beneficiaries of various conditions,” Tan continues. “It was heartwarming to witness the connections they built in the short span of time. This to me, is truly inspiring!”
They say it takes a village; in this case the SIA family, along with its business partners and members of the public, have truly rallied to make a difference that was – and will continue to be – felt by many.
SIA would like to thank its following business partners for their generous support of the SIA Cares fundraising efforts: Allen & Gledhill LLP, CSB Aero Technologies Pte Ltd, DBS Bank Ltd, Deloitte Consulting, Embraer, Fullerton Health, Illumia by Kim Lim, OCBC, Sharp Aviation K. Inc, TCI Express Pte Ltd, Teleperformance and United Overseas Bank Limited.