Part 2 “We are a family forever.”

Part 2

“We are a family forever.”

With 30 years of experience in hosting the Participating Youths (PYs) of the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Programme (SSEAYP) for its homestay stint, the author of the book, “The ship that spreads friendship”, wrote it with the aim of bringing the people of ASEAN and Japan together in the spirit of SSEAYP.

Recently, on 16 November, some 330 PYs from ASEAN and Japan arrived in Singapore for a 4-night stay in Singapore, spending two nights in the homes of Singapore families to gain local lifestyle experiences and building a friendship.

A 2-part article has been written on this year’s SSEAPY PYs’ visit to Singapore. The first part, titled “A memoir written in honour of SSEAYP homestay host families”, was published in this blog (the author’s blog) on 30 November 2019. Today, the blog carries the second part, “We are a family forever” a phrase mentioned by one of the four PYs who stayed with the author for the homestay.

During the 3-day homestay stint, the PYs mingled with the members of the homestay families learning about their way of life and taking the hosts as their foster parents and forging a strong relationship between them.

Open Ship

It was an exciting moment for the PYs to meet their foster families on board Nippon Maru.  They were happy to take them to the decks for photos before the ship separates them to take the PYs to the next destination.

Sending off our homestay PYs: On board Nippon Maru with homestay host families. The other photo below shows the author and his wife and their homestay PYs, from left, Anh from Vietnam; Mizah from Brunei Darussalam; Fairy from Vietnam and Tonee from Laos with Mr Yacob Hussain, President of SSEAYP International Singapore (SIS).

Tour of the Nippon Maru: Meeting some Singapore’s past PYs at the deck of the ship, and taking a photo with Shubaa who the author interviewed for “The ship that spreads friendship” (See pages 53 and 54). The last photo shows Mr Halim Kader who is one of the three Advisers of SIS, and his two granddaughters.

Goodbye hugs with our homestay PYs.

Homestay hosts at the wharf platform waiting for the farewell ceremony.

Farewell ceremony

Mr Darryl David, Member of Parliament of the Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency, was the Guest-of-Honour at the Farewell Ceremony of SSEAYP 2019.

During the ceremony, the PYs appeared contingent by contingent on the connecting bridge in representing their country to bid goodbye to Singapore.  

Farewell Ceremony at the wharf: Mr Darryl David (second from left), Member of Parliament of the Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency, is the Guest-of-Honour at the Farewell Ceremony of SSEAYP 2019. He and the other three ceremony officials are awaiting the appearance of the 10 ASEAN contingents and the Japanese contingent who will take turn to appear at the ship-wharf connecting bridge.

Each of the 11 PY contingents taking turns to appear at the connecting bridge to make their short but spirited farewell performance.

Farewell gesture

From the ship, the PYs threw rolls of farewell ribbon to their foster parents on the wharf to hold on to till the ribbons snap one by one as the ship moved away from the harbour’s edge heading for the next port of call.

Displaying their “goodbye emotion” with ribbons: The ribbons, being held at one hand by the PYs on board Nippon Maru and the other end held by their homestay families, snap one by one as the ship moves away slowly from the wharf with both sides waving at each other till the ship goes out of sight…

Yes, Mr Joey Koh, points to the ship that is on its way to the next port of call spreading its mission of friendship.

As homestay families leave the harbour

Keeping friendship after leaving the wharf: Host families at the connecting walkway to exit the Singapore Cruise Centre.

Some host families, spotting the author, decided to get the author’s autograph for “The ship that spreads friendship”

Spreading the SSEAYP story

“The ship that spreads friendship” has been given to every PY of the SSEAYP 2019, and this gesture would see the book further spreading the friendship in all the 10 ASEAN countries and Japan.

“The ship that spreads friendship” also spreads its friendship in Singapore: Photos, clockwise from left, show Mdm Fatimah Ibrahim, past SSEAYP homestay host, Mdm Nor Ain Saleha, SSEAYP PY 1981, Mdm SK Yap and Mr Sherwin Loo, and Mr CT Ong and Mdm SK Yap with the author.

Mdm Nor Ain Saleha, in her WhatsApp message to me, said: “I’ve finished reading your book, and enjoyed reading it. Congrats to you and Khairon for decades of contribution to the SSEAYP fraternity. Glad your book acknowledged arwah Ihsan.  I missed Allahyarham who was my colleague at the Singapore Sports Council. May his soul rest among the pious. Alfateha.” (Mr Mohamed Ihsan, who urged the author to be a homestay host in 1989 and who was mentioned in the book, passed away in 1999.)

Singaporean second-year university student in Melbourne, Miss Sabrina Jeffery Low, reading the book to get inspiration to join SSEAYP after her graduation.

“The ship that spreads friendship” goes to the Philippines: The middle photo shows Mr Yacob Hussain, President of SSEAYP International Singapore, presenting the book to Mr Bong Manlulu II, Chairman of SSEAYP International Philippines.

During reunion gathering in the Philippines: Members happy to receive “The ship that spreads friendship” from Mr Yacob Hussain who is in the Philippines attending the reunion of the 1992 SSEAYP batch PYs.

In the Philippines: Mr Yacob Hussain presenting the book to Ms Yulia Indahri, the author’s foster daughter, SSEAYP homestay PY of 1992. The attached photo, taken in 1992, shows the author and their foster children, Yulia from Indonesia and Nor Hairos Cik Mat from Malaysia, on board Nippon Maru on the day of Open Ship.

Till we meet again…

Next year Singapore is not a port of call and therefore there will be no homestay for SSEAYP PYs. This situation made a homestay host a bit sad. Mdm Hadijah, who took two PYs this year, said: “Hope to see all our homestay family members again.  And we await for our next PYs in 2021.”

Mdm Hadijah Osman and her husband, Mr Zakaria Mohd Shariff with their foster children, left, Sainati from Malaysia and Evee from Vietnam, PYs of SSEAYP 2019: “And we await for our next PYs in 2021.”

The relationship between the PYs and their homestay families is summed up by the author’s foster son from Vietnam in his postcard, thus: “We are a family forever.”

Postcard from my foster son, Nguyen Viet Anh (Anh), 2019 SSEAYP PY from Vietnam: “No word can express how grateful I have been for being your foster son. I wish health and happiness stayed with you forever. We are a family forever.”

Today (7 December 2019), Nippon Maru has ferried the PYs from Malaysia to Japan, the final port of call for this year’s SSEAYP.  After the homestay in Japan, the PYs, on 13 December, will fly to their respective countries in ASEAN, after gaining 52 days of SSEAYP experience.

Shaik Kadir
8 December 2019

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