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03 Jul 2024
4 mins
Fortitude, Gratitude and a Winning Attitude

These are not just rhyming words. For Hani Aqidah binte Ismail, each represents a trait that leads to joy and fulfilment in work and life. The 27-year-old lady with a winsome smile is a Fourth Engineer with Wallenius Marine.  SeaVoices chatted with her when she came ashore to spend Hari Raya with her family.

Hani was studying Marine & Offshore Technology at Institute of Technical Education (ITE) when during her internship at Semb Corp Marine, an engineer friend showed her a pamphlet about Wavelink Maritime Institute. That was when she began to seriously consider sailing, a career that took her towards the deep sea, as opposed to working in the shipyard.

“The training allowance was attractive, I thought, as it enabled cadets to focus on the training rather than worrying about earning their keeps,” Hani recounted. As the eldest of five children, she wanted to provide for her family and the allowance enabled her to do that. It lightened her father’s load as the sole breadwinner.

As to deciding which programme to enrol in, there was no dilemma. “It was an obvious choice. I went for Tripartite Engineering Training Award (TETA) program in 2018 and was prepared to take the engineering route. After all, I have the knack for electrical and mechanical work,” she reminisced being the handyman at home together with her father, fixing things around the house.

Her family supported her decision to become a seafarer, but not without some concerns at first. The environment, the nature of the work and prolonged time away from home were top on her parents’ minds. But this “Daddy’s girl” takes to her job like a fish to water.

“I don’t feel homesick. There are just so many things to do and learn, and to keep the mind occupied,” shared Hani. “I may not be able to lift heavy loads with my hands, but I can use lifting aids,” she exemplified, illustrating how working smart can make challenging tasks more manageable.

Hani takes time to remember the good things that have come her way. Feeling grateful is a trait linked to happiness and a healthy mind, research shows. It’s no wonder Hani has managed to stay cheerful and resilient.  She cherishes being a part of the Wallenius family and is thankful for the opportunity to sail with a company which prioritises safety and welfare of seafarers. “The ships are seaworthy; even in bad weather, I could feel the stability. Meals come with a variety of choices. There is a swimming pool, an indoor basketball court, and a female toilet.” 

She appreciates having a supportive family. “My father works as a prime mover driver in the port and will send me snacks. I wouldn’t have survived without those rice crackers and pineapple tarts.”

She cherishes the camaraderie shared with other female seafarers.  “There are so few of us relative to the men. But if we come together, support and build each other up, we can be a force to be reckoned with. What I found particularly helpful is seniors advising juniors and giving them a heads-up of what to expect and the pitfalls to avoid.  I still remember what Sister Cheryl shared till today.” Now, Hani does the same for Namera, an ex-schoolmate from secondary school who had followed her career footsteps. The graduate from TETA (Cohort 5) is now a 5th Engineer. Nellisa from TETA (Cohort 3) is Hani’s buddy.  They have made a ‘pact’ to sign up for CoC2 at the same time, soon.

Hani’s appointment as a General Council member of SMOU places her in a position to highlight and advocate for issues that affect younger seafarers, such as career development opportunities, mental health support, work-life balance, and fair and inclusive practices. “It is both an honour and privilege to help shape the future of the maritime workplace,” she pointed out.

As the conversation drew to a close, Hani had a special message for her instructors at WMI. “To Mr Kalyan, Mr Daniel and Mr Hisham, thank you for being such great teachers. You paved the way for me to be where I am today.”