Madam Sheah Wai Ying (centre) and Ms Lim Lea Cheen (second from right) posing with other volunteers on the logistics and catering services team. Photo: Zsa Zsa Lee/SINGSOC
The Team Nila volunteer workforce that keeps 28th SEA Games running is largely made up of students and young adults, but it is this smiling 84-year old Sheah Wai Ying, the oldest volunteer stationed at OCBC Arena, who puts a smile on the volunteers’ faces as she greets them in the workforce dining hall.
Madam Sheah and her daughter, 53-year old Lim Lea Cheen volunteered for the games as part of the catering service crew handling food and beverages for the workforce.
They can often be spotted working together, making sure the dining hall is well stocked with snacks and drinks to keep going, and taking care of the workforce by getting feedback on the meals being served.
“They are always cheerful and looking to see how else they can help out. (They are) very proactive” says Troy Chong, a fellow team member.
The mother-daughter pair were shopping when they came across a queue for the SEA Games volunteer recruitment drive. Lea Cheen attributed their decision to sign up to her mother’s insistence.
“My mother was very interested but I was reluctant. She couldn’t stop thinking about it and pestered me until I relented. Eventually we both signed up,” she said.
Madam Sheah smiled sheepishly at this comment, exclaiming in Cantonese that she just thought it would be fun.
The mother-daughter pair also offer their help in flag days for various organisations and at temples around the island.
Lea Cheen said that the SEA Games is the largest scale event that they have done.
"We wanted to experience the difference, what it is really like to volunteer for a regional-level event," she said.
Both women strongly believe that age should not define or restrict what one wants in life. Refusing to believe her age is a deterrent, Madam Sheah explained that she will go whatever she can and wants to.
"Being old doesn’t mean I’m just going to wait to die, I want to live happily. If you have the ability, just go and do what makes you happy,” she added.
Madam Sheah and Lea Cheen are part of the 1,000 strong Team Nila squad stationed at OCBC Arena throughout the games. With five sports and 19 days of competition, this venue houses the largest workforce of the games.
This author of this article is a volunteer content producer with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.