Solidarity with migrant workers

09 September 2019 | Community
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Participants competing to build the tallest structure using craft materials

When Faruk, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi construction worker, injured his finger and arm in a recent workplace accident, his pain was amplified by the lack of appropriate treatment and compensation from his employer. Unable to work while his finger and arm recuperate, one of Faruk’s biggest worries is not having enough money to send back to his family, who depend on him for their living expenses.

Moved by the plight of these migrant workers, students from the NUS Students’ Community Service Club (NUSCSC) collaborated with Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) to organise an afternoon of fun activities for them. The initiative, called Project We Are One (WAO), was held at the NUS Sports and Recreation Centre on 31 August.

The event kicked off with some games to break the ice between the 45 student volunteers and 45 migrant workers. The group then broke off into teams to play games like archery tag, human foosball and a relay race. The teams also took part in a competition to build the highest tower using craft materials.

The games fostered a sense of camaraderie and understanding between the students and the migrant workers. By the end of the evening, the participants and volunteers sat down to enjoy their briyani dinner together as friends. Before they parted, each migrant worker was given a goodie bag containing daily necessities such as soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, deodorant and socks.

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Participants and student volunteers enjoying their briyani dinner together

Sumon, a Bangladeshi who has worked in Singapore for seven years, was injured in a serious accident last December and is currently waiting for compensation from his employer. He said that he enjoyed the event. “Especially today, I feel very happy and would like to thank the students from NUS, and TWC2. Especially thanks to the students who volunteered. We are all happy,” he shared.

Project WAO marked the first time that NUSCSC reached out to the migrant worker community in Singapore. The positive response among the student volunteers and the beneficiaries bodes well for future events. 

“We hope that the student volunteers who participate in our event would go on to be agents of change and either contribute in the future by volunteering or spreading awareness of their experiences with migrant workers,” said Jaymond Tan, Project Director of Project WAO.

Looking to the future, the organisers hope to host a dialogue session with TWC2 and the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) that will also see migrant workers sharing their experiences with NUS students.