Crew Talk: Fortunate Ndo Twala

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SAA Cabin crew member and current Mrs Commonwealth SA Fortunate Ndo Twala changes lives on and off airplanes.

I come from the Alexandra township (Alex) in Johannesburg, a community where neglect is as normal as breathing.

This is a characteristic found in many communities all over Africa and the world, something which I witnessed during my travels as a flight attendant. It opened my eyes and I started viewing everything as a possibility.

I started to notice a hunger for knowledge and assistance from eyes in the community. I took it upon myself to assist where I could, but in order to be effective, I had to empower and develop myself to create sustainable change.

Education comes in all shapes and sizes. One does not necessarily need book smarts to accomplish your goals: life skills and coaching together with book smarts make for an unbeatable combination.

At SAA, branding and values are part of our everyday life. We must live it every day, so much so that it became part of my home life too, and filters through to my family.

At the Mrs Commonwealth Gala event
At the Mrs Commonwealth Gala event

I Chose This Career Because…

Growing up, I used to watch the sitcom The Manhattans, and there I saw flight attendants, elegantly dressed in their uniforms pulling along their suitcases.

I guess this image, of flight attendants travelling the world looking so glamorous, inspires many young people to become one of them.

What I Love Most About The Job is…

One of my colleagues made me look at my job differently, and since then, I am forever consciously present on the aircraft.

The skills you acquire, and the development you undergo while being present in the moment prepares you for so much more in life.

Most Memorable Moment On Board

It was when I assisted in saving the life of a little girl on a flight to London. She connected with the crew at the beginning of the flight, and kept us entertained for most of the flight.

During the night, she became ill. Because I am also a mother, I could understand the fear of her mother.

I was so grateful for the training that I received from the airline so that, together with the help of a medical doctor, we could work together for a positive outcome. It also became one of my proudest moments while wearing the uniform.

Walking and shopping in Accra
Walking and shopping in Accra

When I Am Not Flying, I…

… share my passion for community work with my husband. We formalised our outreach work in 2016 when we registered non-profit organisations (NPOs). The one is Qoqizizwe, through which we care for the aged, and the other is Zandile’s Day Care.

At the Qoqizizwe Centre there is a weekly feeding programme for the elderly and disadvantaged, as well as food items for home meals.

At Zandile’s Day Care we strive to provide a safe, nurturing environment where we instil knowledge in each child to be able to grow in an ever-changing society.

We also provide nourishing meals during the school day to assist their mental capacity for learning.

I am also the current title holder of the Mrs Commonwealth SA 2019/2020 pageant. The purpose of the competition is to empower, inspire and motivate women, and to bring sustainable change to our communities.

I entered the pageant because to me, being 40 is a number of maturity, a number for fulfilling a certain mandate in my life, and an opportunity to reach my full potential.

I am also challenging myself to new adventures, and being involved in significant platforms to be able to make a change and difference in the lives of many.

Favourite International Destinations 

My favourite SAA destination is Accra, Ghana. I relate so much and so well to the people there. I love their kindness, warmth, and humility.

This could be because we are all from the same continent, and we are all brothers and sisters from Africa.

I love to explore the different markets and the good food. Their jollof (a one-pot rice dish) and plantains (cooking bananas) are some of my favourites.

When I walk through their markets, it feels as if I am in the streets of my hometown, Alex. You will always find something of interest and wonder there.

Community Development and Empowerment is another one of Fortunate Ndo Twala's passions
Community Development and Empowerment is another one of Fortunate Ndo Twala’s passions

Your Top Travel Tips?

  • Always have a set of clothes and toiletries in your cabin bag so that you will be prepared for anything.
  • If you are travelling with kids, have some snacks in your bag just in case there is nothing available on the aircraft.
  • Travel with a pen or two. By the time you need to do your paperwork, the flight attendant probably already passed her pen to another passenger.
  • If you suffer from sinus or have flu, bring chewing gum along for the takeoff and landing. As the crew are not allowed to chew it while in uniform, we will not have any available on the aircraft.

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