Truly great film trilogies are so uncommon because at least one entry fails to live up to the promise of the others, usually the third. SINGALA III, held on the 9th of June at the Goodwood Park Hotel, begged to differ.
Upon arrival, guests in their African-inspired attire were welcomed with a lively Brazilian-inspired piece composed and performed by our Samba Band. Going further in, a beautiful foliage archway served as an entrance to what would be a superb adventure: from the staircase decorated with garlands of even more foliage and African baubles, the reception area with plants big and small and photos of wild animals hanging on wooden frames, all the way to the splendour of the Windsor Ballroom itself transformed into an African jungle for the night. On the side of the ballroom was a multitude of items for auction, lavishly displayed in the gorgeously bedecked auction tents which attracted generous bids.
As the doors opened, a tribe of scholars past and present entered the ballroom accompanied by representatives of the SJI International community who are champions of the Scholarship Programme. Leading the tribe was founding scholar Jeremiah Pereira, who sang a beautiful rendition of the Lion King opening song Circle of Life.
After a welcome speech by the Chair of the SINGALA Organising Committee, Mrs Fiona Rankine Al-Junied, guests were treated to the wonderful talent of student Elizabeth Tay who performed John Lennon's Beautiful Boy and showcased an art she created and donated for auction. The piece was later auctioned live – raising $25,000. Other performers on the night included the Bella Voce Choir who performed a lineup of traditional African songs; the Elementary School String Ensemble; and the African Marimba Ensemble.
Former scholar Jessa Alfajardo, who is in a further scholarship at Hong Kong Baptist University, has flown in from Hong Kong to share the impact of the SJI International scholarship to her life. Other speeches from scholars featured Jeremiah, who is now a Medical Doctor; Brian Theng, on video from Oxford; and current scholars Sophuth Phon and Jiayi Zhu.
In conjunction with the 300th Anniversary of the death of our Founder St John Baptist de La Salle, who was born in Rheims, France, the Guest of Honour at SINGALA III was His Excellency Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore.
Closing the evening was a speech by Scholarship Committee Chairman Kenneth Li, who thanked the many supporters and well-wishers of SINGALA since its inception in 2015. Funds raised on the evening amounted to almost $1.5 million – a remarkable feat accomplished only through the many hearts and hands that enable us to continue to reach out to the last, the lost and the least.