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Caring for migrant workers stuck in Singapore

In Singapore, migrant workers from India were prevented from travelling home for nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers with the Amriteswari Society, Singapore decided to support them during such a trying time. As a result of their efforts, they were able to provide 300 migrant workers from Tamil Nadu with supplies for basic needs. The workers are staying at the Avery Lodge Dormitory, as low-wage workers are usually housed in custom-built dormitories. Hailing from a culture known for its collective support, especially with family and friends, the volunteers in Singapore were moved by how much the workers must be missing their loved ones. “Though we can never replace their family and their local traditions, the Society hopes they feel appreciated as our guests, and that this small gesture on our part will bring light and joy to their lives,” explained Lalitha Pillai with the Amriteswari Society.

Singapore depends on foreign workers, both skilled and unskilled, to augment its workforce. For the workers from India, it is a means to earn well for their families back home. However due to COVID-19, travel for them was blocked as borders were effectively closed for casual travel. The volunteers raised funds to provide a sumptuous traditional meal, delicious Indian sweets and new clothing. They also included postcards and other souvenirs to express their wishes for the workers’ well-being. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the volunteers were not allowed to enter the dormitory, so handed everything over to the dormitory’s coordinators. The workers, with happiness and gratitude, used their phones to send messages back. Recently, international travel has started opening up for Singapore, so the migrant workers will finally get a chance to travel home. Regardless, the workers say they will never forget this deeply moving gesture by the Amriteswari Society.

The volunteers say they also benefited substantially from this opportunity to be of service.

“The outpouring from all those who contributed and participated was extremely heartwarming,” shared Ms Pillai.

“In many ways it gave us the opportunity to be grateful for everything that we have and to think of those who missed their loved ones.”

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