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Sayang Cradle – A great way to fly

A joint project by Rotary Club of Bugis Junction, Singapore with Singapore Airlines Cabin Crew Club
By James Lee

In 2003, the seed of love was sown when I first met Kylie Taylor to learn about Sunrise
Orphanage that she supported through her social enterprise, Taylor and Khoo. Kylie was
looking for a service organization in Singapore to facilitate donations. The need fitted
perfectly with the RI theme in 2004, “Lend a hand”, where we enabled Singapore donors
to reach out in aid of others through our club. “Sayang” is the Malay word for love, and so
we named the project “Sayang Cradle”, which we felt was to be our vehicle in helping to
provide a loving, caring and nurturing environment for the children in Sunrise Orphanage,
from cradle to adulthood.

Three years later, on Good Friday in 2006, a contingent of 41 Rotarians, families, friends
and the volunteers from Singapore Optometrist Society left for Siem Reap.

Upon arrival, we wasted no time and proceeded to our first stop, Wat Anchean School.
Concurrently the optometrists conducted eye checks for the kids, while our friends from
the airlines were busy serving cold drinks and simple snacks to bring cheer to the village
kids. Many of the kids were tiny and malnourished, and dressed in shabby semblances of
school uniforms. There could not have been a better and more meaningful gift to the
children, than to present new school uniforms to the children, led by our charter President,
Allan Yap. A short tour was also conducted to the newly constructed library that was
jointly funded by our club and the Singapore Airlines cabin crew. Through the
collaboration with our angel partner from Singapore Airlines, Wat Anchean School under
the School for Children of Cambodia (SCC) is the second beneficiary that we expanded
under the project.

After a hasty lunch, we proceeded to Sunrise Angkor, the first beneficiary of Sayang
Cradle. We were welcomed by the many friendly kids, with hope shining through their
beautiful smiles! Our optometrists gathered momentum from the morning, and went into
action in no time to conduct more eye checks, this time for the kids at Sunrise Angkor. At
the nursery, our Singapore Airlines friends were busy painting and cleaning the rooms,
where two Japanese crew left their print of a garden with a bunny on a full height wall in
the nursery!

Later on stage, the kids worn their newly tailored dance costumes for the first time, to
perform the Khmer culture dance for all of us. The sponsorship of the dance costumes
was our objective to equip the children with the means to sustain their performances at the
orphanage to raise their own funds. Our dream is to bring their impressive performances
beyond the stage of their orphanage, to the tourist attractions in Cambodia, and eventually
to the world! The afternoon was concluded with the dance costume presentation by
charter President, Allan Yap.

Coincidentally, Good Friday in 2006 was also the New Year Day in Cambodia! It was a
most meaningful time to serve dinner to the children in the orphanage, to give them a
sense of family and love! Vanisa and Prapasri, first ladies of PP Peng Hum and PP Reto,
were busy preparing the home-made prawn crackers and special seasoned chicken for the
dinner. No dinner was ever complete without entertainment, where the highlight of the
evening was the beauty contest organized by Singapore Airlines. While I was amazed by
the beauty of the children in the Singapore Airlines Stewardess uniforms during the
contest; I could not resist the imagination of Singapore Airlines’ long-term recruitment
strategy from young!

In the new Rotary year, a calendar with prints made with photographs of the children to
raise funds has commenced to “lead the way” into another year of Sayang Cradle, a
successful project that encompasses community and international services of Rotary!