National Day supplement

Celebrating Singaporeans' adventurous spirit: Woman slogs it out in wintry US, Canada to prepare for South Pole trek

Ms Eirliani Abdul Rahman learnt polar survival skills in the frozen Canadian north in March to prepare herself for her South Pole expedition in December 2018.
Ms Eirliani Abdul Rahman learnt polar survival skills in the frozen Canadian north in March to prepare herself for her South Pole expedition in December 2018.PHOTO: ERIK BOOMER
Ms Eirliani Abdul Rahman learnt polar survival skills in the frozen Canadian north in March to prepare herself for her South Pole expedition in December 2018.
Ms Eirliani Abdul Rahman learnt polar survival skills in the frozen Canadian north in March to prepare herself for her South Pole expedition in December 2018.PHOTO: ERIK BOOMER
Ms Eirliani Abdul Rahman learnt polar survival skills in the frozen Canadian north in March to prepare herself for her South Pole expedition in December 2018.
Ms Eirliani Abdul Rahman learnt polar survival skills in the frozen Canadian north in March to prepare herself for her South Pole expedition in December 2018.PHOTO: ERIK BOOMER

The Straits Times will run a National Day supplement on Aug 9 profiling Singaporeans who display various shared values of the Singapore Spirit. Here is a sneak peek at one segment focusing on individuals who embody the adventurous spirit.

SINGAPORE - At age seven, Ms Eirliani Abdul Rahman somehow became convinced that she would die by the time she was 40. She has no idea where this belief came from, but she promised herself that she would achieve all she wanted to by then.

Now 40 years old, she is very much alive, and has done plenty.

She worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat, and co-founded the charity Youths, Adult Survivors And Kin In Need, which tackles child sexual abuse.

She also works for the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation, founded by the Indian Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi.

Ms Eirliani is based in Singapore but will move soon to the United States to work at the foundation's Washington DC office.

But the grand prize has yet to come - conquering the South Pole.

The idea came to her last year, and she has three reasons for it.

First, she wanted to accomplish something that not many Singaporeans have, she said, adding in jest that the South Pole does not have polar bears.

 
 
 

Second, she wants to raise funds and awareness for victims of child sexual abuse, whom she helped as a volunteer in India in 2015.

And she wants to send a message to women. "I want to tell women that you can go out no matter your age, that you can set your mind to your goal and achieve it," she said, stressing that she is no athlete.

She initially wanted to start her 1,100km expedition in January via a route that had yet to be decided with her team, but work commitments and the realisation that she needed more training prevented her from doing so.

Ms Eirliani is now planning to go in December next year, and her preparation has been gruelling.

She would go cross-country skiing in the US around four times weekly for between two and four hours, pushing herself with another weekly six-hour skiing session. She also dragged and flipped a 25kg truck tyre up and down mountain roads for three hours, up to twice weekly.

She gained polar navigation skills in March by training for two weeks in the frozen Canadian north, and will return there this winter for another bout.

Ms Eirliani has had to make sacrifices, including missing her grandmother's funeral after she died from a lung infection this May, when she went to America for training and work.

But this adventurer said she has the full support of her parents and two younger brothers.

She said: "You can be a trailblazer and you can do things that you thought you could never do before."

 

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