by Cheryl Leong on

Most primary school kids might not have the presence of mind to stay calm in an emergency. But the plucky Sahanna D/O Ramash is not like most kids.

Last April, Sahanna, then seven, was playing at home after school when she noticed the smell of smoke. Curious, she went to investigate its source, and that’s when she discovered that it was coming from the flat of her neighbour opposite. They weren’t home at the time.

“I quickly ran to inform my mummy, and after that, I called the police. I told them what the emergency was, and also my address,” said Sahanna, who added excitedly that it was the first time she’d ever dialled 999.

By then, smoke from the fire was getting thicker, billowing out the door and windows. On the advice of the police, Sahanna and her family, along with other neighbours, evacuated their flats and waited downstairs for help to arrive.

Thanks to her quick thinking and accurate information provided, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) firefighters were on the scene within minutes to contain the fire before it got any bigger.

That night, the grateful neighbours, a couple in their 40s, came by to thank Sahanna for her heroic assistance, which had earned her a place among the winners of this year’s Good Neighbour Award (GNA).

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Sahanna had been nominated for the award by a fellow neighbour, Eric Ng. Image Source: Youtube / Housing & Development Board

Jointly organised by the Housing & Development Board and People’s Association, the award recognises residents, across all ages, who go above and beyond the call of neighbourly duty.

Recounting her experience, Sahanna explained that she’d known what to do, all because she’d paid attention in class.

“In school, we watched a video about good and bad ‘robots’ called FiDrant Saves The Day. The bad ‘robot’ would say things like, ‘Kids, play with fire, it’s fun’. But the good ‘robot’, FiDrant, would save the day and teach children that it’s not safe to play with fire. My teacher also told us that in an emergency, we should call 999 for the police and 995 for an ambulance,” she recalled solemnly.

The proud recipient of GNA’s Student Category (Primary) award, Sahanna’s civic-mindedness was also lauded by her school. The Jurong Primary School student got to accept her award on stage, and received a resounding salute from the entire school.

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Image Source: Housing & Development Board

“Everyone clapped for me when I was on stage, and my teacher was so proud of me. All my friends wanted to see my award. I was very happy, and I felt like I’d saved the day, too!” she beamed.

And as it turned out, the young role model has her own shining example to look up to – her mother, Kogeelavani D/O Elangovan.

The 37-year-old nurse at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital is no stranger to lending a hand to anyone in need, according to her daughter.

“One time, my mummy and I saw this uncle sitting on the grass. He had difficulty standing up, so we helped him. Another time, my mummy also helped an old man cross the road,” gushed Sahanna.

At that, Kogeelavani smiled, then turned the conversation back to Sahanna: “Our neighbourhood is near a polyclinic, so we often see elderly with mobility issues who need assistance getting out of cabs. I try to help whenever I can, and I’m happy to see that Sahanna herself doesn’t shy away from asking others if they need help as well.

“One time, she was at the playground and a boy had a nosebleed. She immediately told him, ‘Don’t worry, my mum is a nurse, she can help!’ I was sitting farther away, so she quickly came to get me. Together, we went back to the boy, and I noticed that she wasn’t afraid to come into contact with him, or help him hold his bloody tissues!

“I realised how mature she is for her age, and how observant and attentive she can be. It makes me feel really proud of her,” Kogeelavani said, with a contented smile.

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