Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate and express our love to that special one who matters the most in our lives. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, Rescue995 engaged three lovely couples from SCDF who shared with us their romantic journeys.
Respect, Support and Optimism Keeps Couple of 18 Years Going Strong
LTA(Ag) Nor Azhar Abdul Rashid served his National Service (NS) with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) where he was training to be a section commander. Little did he know that he would meet the love of his life through one of the training exercises. Today, Azhar is a Deputy Rota Commander at Sengkang Fire Station (FS), and is happily married to his wife, WO2 Cynthia Tan, an Emergency Operations Specialist at the SCDF Operations Centre.
Both Azhar and Cynthia are proud parents of two bubbly children.
Rescue 995: Please share with us your romantic journey! How did the two of you first meet, go on a courtship and get married?
Azhar: I first met Cynthia in 2005 during my NS. Cynthia was attached to the same Emergency Response Specialist Course, as part of her Paramedic Trainee course. After graduating from the course, I was posted to Changi Fire Station as an NSF section commander and met Cynthia again, as she was serving her attachment there as a Paramedic trainee. It was during an exercise when I noticed Cynthia’s Chemical Agent Bag (CA Bag) and suggested to her that it could be packed more neatly. I helped her to organise the bag for the exercise and from there, we gradually progressed on to our first date.
Cynthia: Indeed, it was the CA Bag that brought us together! We just happened to be at the right place at the right time, preparing for the exercise, when Azhar kindly helped me out.
Azhar: Perhaps it was fate. After my NS, I signed on with the SCDF and was posted to Sengkang FS in 2007. Three years later, Cynthia was posted to Sengkang FS too. I proposed to Cynthia in 2011 and we got married in 2012. It’s amazing how everything seemed to fall into place very nicely for us. Looking back, I am amazed that SCDF is the place where it all started for us — our careers, our love for each other and our family.
Rescue 995: In every successful relationship, challenges are inevitable. What were some of these challenges and how did you overcome them?
Cynthia: I think the first challenge I faced in the initial year was to let my family know that I was dating Azhar. As we are of different ethnicity, and with a different upbringing and cultural practices, it took a while for my family to accept us. There were times when we did not understand why we practised our customs in a certain way. Gradually, we learned to accept and respect each other’s differences. I think being open and speaking to each other honestly and sincerely plays a very important role in helping to overcome these challenges.
Azhar: For me, I am glad that my family was very understanding, especially my dad. He gave me the support that I needed to make this relationship work. This gave us the strength to go through every challenge together as a couple.
Rescue 995: If you could give one good piece of advice to all the couples out there, what would it be?
Cynthia: Respect and support is very important. Couples have to communicate often so that they can resolve misunderstandings when they occur.
Azhar: In any relationship, there will be conflicts. But with commitment and sincerity, you can always find a way to address every problem. We should also spend quality time with our families as this will strengthen our relationships.
“Love Requires Acceptance and Some Elements of Fun” says Couple of 13 Years
The spark of their romance started a decade ago, before they joined the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Unlike other couples who first meet each other face-to-face, MX Shameemah Mohideen, an Admin Officer from Central Fire Station, met CPT Muhammad Hakim Bin Abdul Jabbar, a Public Education Officer from the 2nd SCDF Division in cyber space. Their love for each other gradually blossomed through two years of courtship and they are now happily married with two children.
Rescue 995: How did the two of you meet?
Shameemah: Our love story goes way back before I joined SCDF. Hakim and I were mutual friends on Facebook. Through his online friends, he got to know me, and we started chatting. That was how we grew closer.
Hakim: I chanced upon Shameemah’s profile in Facebook in 2010. After she accepted my request to add her, our friendship blossomed from there.
Shameemah: When I first knew Hakim online, he was a police officer. Naturally, I was excited because I like men in uniform. One day, I was at West Coast Park and texting Hakim when it suddenly rained. I told him that I was stuck in the middle of the park without any shelter. I was pleasantly surprised when my dear hero came to my rescue. Instead of bringing a spare umbrella, he brought one umbrella to share with me. That was how we met for the first time, and it was truly memorable! He showed me that understanding and trusting someone is possible, no matter the differences between us. Now, we are an important part of each other's lives.
Hakim: Fast forward two years later, on the exact date of our first meeting, I proposed to her and we got married. One fun fact is that our marriage day happens to be on Total Defence Day, and we are so grateful to be able to commemorate both our love and Singapore’s commitment to national defence on this special day.
Rescue 995: That’s really romantic! How did the wedding preparations go?
Hakim: Well, we definitely had our fair share of challenges, but like all other couples, we made it through.
Shameemah: Of course, preparing for our wedding was not easy. At that time, it was challenging for us to make sure that our matrimonial home was ready. Meeting the expectations of our elders throughout the organisation of the wedding was also another challenge that we overcame together.
Rescue 995: How did the both of you make time for each other given that you have different work schedules?
Shameemah: When I first knew Hakim, he was on shift work. Therefore, I had to adapt to his schedule, and we also accommodated each other to make our relationship work.
Hakim: She has been very accommodating to me. I would usually alert her of my schedule beforehand, and whenever I was required to be on standby for duty. All this while, we would exercise some form of give-and-take. My supervisors and supportive colleagues also help to create a positive workplace environment, which is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and in turn helps to nurture strong family bonds.
Shameemah: Despite our busy schedules, we make the effort to have time for ourselves too. In the evening, once the children are asleep, we would go out for supper or a movie.
Rescue 955: What is one good piece of advice you would give to couples to have a lasting relationship?
Shameemah: Everyone will have their own idiosyncrasies and this is what makes each person special. It doesn’t matter how old you are; it’s more important that you have some elements of fun in your relationship to make it more exciting.
Hakim: When we find ourselves in a challenging situation, it can be hard to stay calm and make the best decisions. By taking some time away from the problem, we will come back with a clear mind and a fresh perspective, allowing us to make better decisions on the way forward.
Love: A Lifelong Learning Process
Love gradually blossomed for CPT Soh Cheng Wei Keave and MAJ Wong Xiang Yi, when they first met several years ago at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA) during the Rota Commander Course (RCC). Today, CPT Keave from the SCDF Marine Division and MAJ Xiang Yi from the Emergency Medical Services Department (EMSD) are happily married.
Rescue 995: Could you briefly share with us how the both of you met?
MAJ Xiang Yi: When we first met each other during our RCC, we did not have any significant first impressions of each other. I always thought of Keave as the guy with a big yellow bag. However, our mutual love for outdoor activities and an active lifestyle brought us together and nurtured our relationship.
CPT Keave: We enjoyed each other’s companionship very much, so fast forward several years, we decided to get married in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, just in time for us to move into our new Build-To-Order HDB flat!
Rescue 995: Challenges are inevitable for every couple. What challenges did you face and how did the both of you overcome them?
MAJ Xiang Yi: I don't think we can say that we have already overcome all our challenges as a couple. As we grow in our relationship, our challenges as a married couple will evolve over time.
CPT Keave: I think the key is to always remind ourselves that we are both imperfect, and to be grateful that we will always have each other's companionship and support throughout this long journey called life.
Rescue 995: As a married couple, what do you think is the main difference between married life and the dating phase? How do you think a newly-weds can learn to love each other?
CPT Keave: Being married means we have become each other's family. Fortunately for the both of us, we come from relatively large families, and we now get to enjoy twice the amount of love and care from them. But on the flip side, we would still need to give away more angbaos during the Lunar New Year [chuckles].
MAJ Xiang Yi: We are still learning about ourselves throughout this love journey, and I believe this will be a lifelong learning process. We try to find joy from simple activities together, such as foraging at the supermarket, dreaming about winning the lucky draw and even laughing at each other. I think these simple things inject much joy into our lives and make us enjoy each other’s companionship every day.
Rescue995 hereby wishes all our readers a Happy Valentine’s Day!