News of missing MH370 brought back painful memories for former airline caregiver

News of missing MH370 brought back painful memories for former airline caregiver

The news of the Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight "sickened" him and brought back painful memories.

Retiree Nelson Sin, 67, was a former "buddy" to the family of victims of the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Flight SQ006 and SilkAir Flight MI 185 crashes. The aftermath of the crashes, which happened in 2000 and 1997 respectively, still haunt him today.

Most airlines have a ready team of staff who volunteer as caregivers and have been trained to provide emotional support to family members in a crisis.

In a statement at 1pm on Wednesday, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) said that they have deployed teams of caregivers consisting of trained MAS staff and volunteers from non-governmental organisations Mercy Malaysia and Tzu Chi Foundation.

These caregivers are stationed at five locations in Beijing, China, and four places in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

After the SilkAir crash, Mr Sin, who was a logistics executive for SIA, was in charge of taking care of the needs of a family of 20 members in Palembang, in Sumatra, Indonesia.

In 2000, he was in Taipei, Taiwan, for three weeks, representing the airline. He visited hospitals with crash victims.

Mr Sin said that he understood the challenges faced by MAS staff members who have to deal with anguished family members.

As a caregiver, he had to arrange for flights, hotels, meals and clothes for them, on top of providing emotional support.

Like some of his colleagues, he had volunteered to be a caregiver before the incident, and was subsequently trained to help counsel families in distress.

Mr Sin said: "I provided a listening ear and the assurance that we will help them in any way that they want." He also had to put up with all kinds of demands.

"A Taiwanese couple had even asked for the airline to pay for their condominium.

"Another family member was a Taoist, but he asked for prayers from every religion," he recalled.

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