Trading the skies for something earth-bound

SINGAPORE - It was a moment of epiphany.

Staying in a five-star hotel in Mumbai after a flight, Ms Nazriah Mohamed Noor was struck by the dismal sight of shanty towns outside her window.

"There were so many child beggars," recalled the former air stewardess. "I realised there are a lot of people who can't afford necessities, while I was surrounded by luxury."

That was in 2010.

About two years later, she quit her job, volunteered at a day activity centre for the disabled and, in April, started studying for a diploma in social service at the new Social Service Institute.

The 34-year-old is among 10 people from other sectors allowed, for the first time, to take the course.

Although the pay will be nowhere close to what she was making, she said: "I will be doing something more worthwhile. Also, I enjoy meeting people and making an impact on their lives."

And she is also counting on her cabin crew experience. "It built my ability and confidence in handling people from all walks of life."

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