The Joy of Gifting-It-Forward

  • Post published:24 April 2023

Seafaring is a niche community in Singapore, and to link up the seafarers with each other through a meaningful initiative, Young SMOU (YSMOU) ran the first ever Gift-It-Forward Campaign, in which seafaring members were encouraged to come forward to gift a meaningful item of theirs to another seafarer. 

The campaign, which ran from May 2022 to February 2023 involved the YSMOU team going on home visits to current and pioneer seafaring members to catch up and have the privilege of listening to their stories, as well as collecting the gift which they would like to pass on to the next seafarer.

Each of the participating seafarers had carefully selected a gift which has held an important place in their career to gift to another seafarer as a form of motivation. From passing forward a maritime law book, to others gifting more sentimental items such as a framed-up epaulette of different ranks, these gifts were prepared to encourage the younger seafarers to feel inspired to carry on and one day achieve the ranks of Chief Engineer or Captain.

On 6 March, the participants gathered at Lighthouse Bistro – where they finally got a chance to meet each other in-person. It was an opportunity for them to network with each other and exchange their stories with one another, as well as seeking valuable advices from the pioneer seafarers.

4th Engineer Nellisa (left) presenting a maritime-themed notebook to Capt Henry Tin (right).

To wrap up the campaign, the final gift was presented to Capt Henry Tin, who recently retired after sailing for close to 45 years, and the first participant of this campaign. Capt Henry joined the campaign as he wished to pass on useful knowledge to the younger seafarers and encourage them to work hard to achieve their dream. Recently promoted 4th Engineer Siti Nellisa, who was the last participant for the campaign, presented a gift to Capt Tin– which she hopes he can continue to inspire future generations, following the same success path as him.

It was heart-warming to see the seafarers coming forward to be a part of this campaign, to provide moral support to each other. The Union will continue to encourage the young seafarers to chase their dreams, just as the pioneer seafarers once did, and hopes for the pioneers to continue to be a lighthouse of dreams for the younger ones to look up to.

“I feel that seafarers are generally under-appreciated in Singapore – this demographic of people spend a significant amount of time away from their loved ones, with some losing touch with their friends. Because of that, I feel the campaign was a step in the right direction as it helps the maritime community stay connected. The ship model I gave to another fellow seafarer holds great sentimental value to me because it was presented to me in recognition of my performance onboard. It was simply the want to give back to the seafaring community and acknowledging the hardships that we have all been through, that I wanted to pass this gift on to another seafarer.”

– Ahmad Sufyan (Right), SMOU member of 6 years

“I found this campaign purposeful, hence I participated in this campaign to encourage the younger seafarers on in their seafaring career. I personally think this is a very rewarding career and at the end of the day, Singapore is a maritime hub and so I never feared that I would ever be out of a job. Nothing is easy – so my advice is to stay focused and nothing will be out of reach.”

– Dennis Oei, SMOU member of 45 years