Sunday Vibes

From wings to words: Former MAS stewardess soars with new passion

"I'M so grateful that you've made the time!" The woman, dressed entirely in black, exclaims eagerly as she rises from her seat the moment I arrive and extend my hand at a cosy café in Damansara.

"Not at all," I reassure Therine Goh, whose debut literary venture, a self-published children's book titled Raia & The Rainforest: Biodiversity Bonanza, is the reason for my presence on this rather slow Ramadan afternoon.

Amidst a diverse career trajectory spanning various industries, Goh has unearthed her true passion within the pages of a children's novel. Set in Malaysia's vibrant rainforest, her book tells the story of Raia, a 6-year-old girl who, after moving to a village near the rainforest, goes on an adventure that introduces her to the diverse life forms in the ecosystem.

Guided by her new friends — Hooroo the barn owl, Kiki the plantain squirrel and Toto the white rabbit Raia — discovers the importance of biodiversity and environmental conservation. Through her eyes, it's hoped that children will learn the value of environmental stewardship, understanding that even the smallest actions can contribute to the preservation of our planet. Goh hopes to inspire her readers to love, respect and protect nature, carrying those values with them as they grow.


From the bustling corridors of corporate power to the tranquil realms of creativity, Goh's journey, as I duly discover, has certainly been a vibrant tapestry of experiences. So, what's the story, I ask the 43-year-old, noting the sparkle in her eyes as she begins.

"I actually studied marketing communication, majoring in copywriting," shares the soft-spoken Taurus, adding that she ventured into various industries, seeking opportunities to explore her interests and expand her skill set. "My professional journey began in a small public relations firm, where I gained valuable insights into the world of media and communications."

However, her thirst for new challenges soon led her to transition to an advertising agency, followed by a stint in film production as a line producer. "Each role offered its own set of challenges and lessons," recalls Goh, "and each experience played a crucial role in shaping me into who I am today."

Despite her success in the corporate world, the soft-spoken KL-lite found herself yearning for something more. She wanted to see the world. "I wanted to travel, but of course, at that point in my life, I didn't really have the funds for it. So, I thought why not find a job that will PAY me to travel!"

And it was that realisation that led her to apply for a job as an air stewardess with national carrier Malaysia Airlines. "For two years, I had the opportunity to explore the world," says Goh, with a fond smile.

Continuing, she muses: "I got to see places, but I knew I wasn't going to be there for long. I was using that period as a temporary pause. Had I stayed longer, it would have been hard for me to get back into the corporate world. Also, when you earn that much already, going back and starting from the bottom all over again would be tough."

Upon completing her contract with Malaysia Airlines, Goh returned to the world of production, only to realise that her heart was no longer fully invested in the industry. Seeking a new challenge, she transitioned to marketing — for a company that was involved in manufacturing cosmetics for brands like Maybelline — followed by more stints in marketing communication roles.

"But I still felt restless," admits Goh, adding: "I wanted to have my own company by then." It was during this time that she decided to take a leap of faith and venture into entrepreneurship.

Co-founding a boutique agency specialising in digital marketing and social media, Goh identified a gap in the market and co-founded an adtech company, which revolutionised the way non-digital advertisements were managed and placed.

However, like many others, she faced unexpected challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced her to confront feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. "It was a difficult time," recalls Goh, adding that it was during this downtime that she discovered the transformative power of hypnotherapy.


Intrigued by the therapeutic effects of hypnotherapy and its potential to unlock the subconscious mind, Goh delved into the world of clinical hypnotherapy, exploring its intersections with storytelling and imagination.

"Hypnotherapy allowed me to tap into my subconscious mind and explore new possibilities," she explains, elaborating: "The experience was definitely transformative and did trigger me to reconnect with my childhood love for storytelling."

Inspired by her book-loving niece and goddaughter Charlotte, who lives in Singapore, Goh decided to pen a children's book that would not only entertain but also educate young readers about the wonders of the natural world.

"I wanted to share with Charlotte about Malaysia's rich biodiversity and the importance of environmental conservation at the same time. I mean, in Singapore, she loves going to the zoo and enjoys the outdoors. I knew she would enjoy this book," shares Goh.

With her passion reignited and her creativity flowing, Goh, whose childhood ambition was to become a teacher, embarked on her writing journey. Drawing on her diverse experiences, as well as her own connection to nature, Goh poured all her efforts into crafting a whimsical adventure set against the backdrop of the Malaysian rainforest.

"Writing this book was a labour of love," confesses Goh, adding that she wanted to create a story that would inspire young readers to explore the wonders of the natural world and cultivate a deeper appreciation for biodiversity and environmental conservation.

As she delved into the research process, she found herself immersed in the rich tapestry of Malaysia's rainforests, learning about the diverse flora and fauna that call it home. Brows furrowing, Goh shares: "The book is set in Peninsular Malaysia, so I had to make sure that whatever I described actually exists here, and not in Borneo etc."

Adding, she explains: "I researched extensively, delving into the portal of the Forestry Department to sift through information specific to states like Pahang and so on. Then, I cross-referenced with Wikipedia and other articles to ensure accuracy."

Despite the thoroughness of her research, Goh chuckles as she reflects on the drafting process, remarking: "Drafting the entire outline only took a couple of weeks. It's a children's book, after all."

As for the first reader of her book, Goh's eyes dance when she replies: "I sent a PDF copy to my sister in Singapore and asked her to let Charlotte read it. She's my little chief editor! I remember her telling me that I repeated the word 'say' a lot, and she suggested using alternatives. She also pointed out some typos. She's very sassy!"

Continuing, Goh reveals: "I didn't engage an editor for this undertaking. Everything's done by me — self-published and self-designed. For the pictures, I utilised Canva and artificial intelligence, sourcing everything myself. This is my first baby project, dedicated to Charlotte, so I wanted to handle every aspect personally. I've actually set up a website for anyone interested in placing an order and also made the e-book available on Kindle for overseas readers."

Suffice to say, writing the book has been a journey of self-discovery for Goh. "I guess it had allowed me to reconnect with my childhood passion for storytelling and explore new avenues of creativity."


Goh's journey towards becoming a children's book author is deeply intertwined with her formative years, shaped by the loving bonds and invaluable life lessons instilled by her family.

Growing up in the close-knit neighbourhood of Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Goh developed a connection with nature at an early age. The proximity of her house to the river and the surrounding kampung provided her with endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Central to Goh's upbringing was her relationship with her family, particularly her father, whose quiet strength and unwavering support left an indelible mark on her character and values.

"I'd say that my dad has been my greatest influence," she reflects, voice filled with warmth and admiration. "He was a man of few words but his actions spoke volumes. He taught me the importance of perseverance, integrity, and the value of hard work."

As a marathon runner and dedicated family man, her father, she adds proudly, led by example, instilling in her a strong work ethic and a deep sense of responsibility towards others.

"He believed in leading by example," recalls Goh, "and he always emphasised the importance of doing what needs to be done, without seeking recognition or praise. He'd say keep your head down and just do it!"

But it wasn't just her father who shaped the soft-spoken former stewardess' upbringing — her entire family played a crucial role in nurturing her creativity and fostering her love for literature.

Smiling, Goh, the eldest of three siblings, confides that she found joy in the simple pleasures of storytelling, sometimes regaling her younger sisters with tales of adventure and imagination.

It was within this supportive and nurturing environment that her passion for writing took root, fuelled by her family's encouragement. Chuckling at the recollection, she recalls: "I remember asking for books every time I had my birthday, or whenever I did well at school and my parents asked me what I wanted!"


In addition to her literary endeavours and various other pursuits, Goh is deeply committed to making a tangible difference in her community, particularly in the realm of education and literacy.

Believing strongly in the transformative power of reading and learning, she has dedicated herself to supporting literacy programmes for children, ensuring that young minds have access to the tools they need to thrive.

One of her most impactful initiatives is her involvement with Women of Will, a non-profit organisation focused on empowering women and children through education and entrepreneurship.

As a business coach with Women of Will (WOW), a non-governmental organisation with a mission to transform the lives of disadvantaged women in the country, Goh plays a pivotal role in mentoring and guiding women from underprivileged backgrounds, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to start and sustain their own businesses. Through her coaching sessions, she empowers women to unlock their potential, break barriers, and achieve economic independence.

But her commitment to literacy extends beyond her work with Women of Will. Recognising the importance of early childhood education, she's also involved with efforts to develop and implement English literacy programmes for children in the B40 community.

Drawing on her background in marketing communication and her passion for storytelling, she's in the midst of crafting engaging and interactive modules designed to cultivate a love for reading and learning among young learners.

One such initiative will be a pilot English literacy programme aimed at children aged 5 to 6, designed to prepare them for primary school and instill a lifelong love for reading. Through a combination of storytelling, reading clubs, and wellness exercises, she's seeking to create a nurturing environment where children can explore the joys of literature while developing essential language skills.

Smiling, Goh shares that with each copy of her debut book sold, she has pledged to allocate a portion of the proceeds towards funding literacy programmes for children, thus ensuring that her book serves as a catalyst for positive change in the community.

Meanwhile, contemplating the future adventures of Raia, Goh's eyes twinkle with anticipation. "A sequel to my book? Oh, absolutely! But where to next for Raia?" she muses, voice alive with excitement.

A pause, and Goh, who's a big fan of Game of Thrones, the American fantasy drama series, exclaims: "I'm torn between delving into a journey of local traditional medicine or exploring our rich tapestry of culture, custom, and traditions. You know, there's still so much to uncover and explore within our rainforests — it's a treasure trove of healing ingredients. Choices, choices! I'll keep you posted!"

Find out more about her book at

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