TL;DR – Thanks too, staff at Harry’s Singapore and Temasek Foundation!
Thanks, everybody, for reading the sharing of an ex-liaison officer who used to work at S11 foreign worker dormitories. And thanks, too, for reading the follow-up piece where one of my fellow writers appealed to us to all self-reflect and see how we can do better. Just like how COVID-19 is not just a “government’s problem”, the foreign worker issue is also not just for the authorities to solve.
We, as a society, need to do better. While advocacy is important, it is not enough. What good does it do if all of us sign a petition? Or write a self-righteous Facebook post? Or snap a picture of foreign workers squeezed into a lorry and put on IG and say, “Oh, so poor thing!” Improvements to their living conditions and treatment ain’t made through social postings, you know? Things will not miraculously improve the moment we get to, say, 500,000 signatures on a petition.
The million dollar question is: Are we ready to put our money where our typing fingers are?
Over the week, MOM and the other parties involved have been working day and night to make arrangements to separate the different groups of migrant workers. The high-risk goup that have come into close contact with the confirmed cases, the ones that need to be quarantined, and also pulling out healthy ones who are involved in essential services.
For foreign worker dormitories gazetted as isolation areas, MOM and the newly set-up inter-agency task force have also been working to improve the living conditions for the workers, little by little, day by day. Day One was chaotic, even MOM has said so, but after some days of working and toiling at it, this is what we have now.
They are still not letting up, and will continue to work on further improvements, so let’s give them some space now to solve the immediate and urgent issues. Some encouragement will be nice too!
I’ve friends at the Migrant Workers Centre (MWC), and this is also why this community news site has covered some of their work since the day we started. MWC has been around since 2009. I’ve even attended a few of their events at the dorms too.
They’re very involved in this scene, from helping to settle the foreign workers in when they arrive, to celebrating special occasions with them, to helping them with workplace grievances (yes, sadly, there are a number of mean employers), to raiding their sleeping quarters, lending a helping hand or raising fund when there are workplace accidents.
Other than working with MOM on the foreign worker COVID-19 clusters, MWC is also working on making reusable masks and hand sanitisers available for the foreign workers as well.
Here’s their update on Facebook tonight,
By this evening, we will have distributed 200,000 reusable masks to migrant workers in dormitories across the island (or 2/3 of the migrant worker population living in all our dormitories). We will continue to contact dormitories which haven’t collected their masks and expedite collection within the next two days. We want to assure all our migrant brothers and sisters in dormitories that you will receive your reusable masks through your dormitory operator – and we have sufficient stock for everyone.
Concurrently, we have started mixing, bottling and packaging hand sanitizer concentrate into 350,000 500ml bottles. These are also meant for all our brothers and sisters residing in dormitories. Production began today and we want to express our sincere gratitude to the management and staff of Harry’s Singapore who have committed to support our hand sanitizer production with up to 30 volunteers per day for the next two weeks. We also want to thank Temasek Foundation for providing us with the solutions and equipment required to support large-scale production. We hope to produce enough bottles to start distribution to through the dormitory operators by some time next week.
With the support garnered from our public fund-raising campaign “Migrants We Care”, we will be procuring 350,000 bath soap bars, which we hope to distribute together with our hand-sanitizers over the next two weeks.
We thank the generous donors for their support to our migrant community and to our migrant brothers and sisters, we pray you stay strong and keep safe! We’re working round the clock to get these items to the migrant community as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, follow MWC on Facebook for the latest happenings and updates!