When Singapore implemented quarantine measures to stop the growing number of COVID-19 cases, migrant workers were not allowed to leave their homes – hostels, even to go out for food.
After receiving a message on April 8 from a friend working with the COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition, Mrs. Cheri Tseng and her husband Tseng Wun Xiong realized the difficult situation the workers were in and took action. The couple called friends and relatives for donations, sought out catering firms, and food delivery drivers. The first meal was delivered on April 10.
In two weeks, the couple raised more than $100,000 to provide more than 10,000 meals to about 670 workers who came mostly from India, Bangladesh and lived in small hostels. The funds were also used to recharge the SIM cards of 1,500 workers.
Mr. Tseng, 43, who runs a high-tech company, said: “People don’t know about all the migrant cases, but the point is that Singaporeans are united, they have stepped forward.
One problem is that they are responsible for the large amount of money they receive, said Ms. Tseng, 40, who works in training consulting.
Not only has she sought advice from her accountant friends, but she has created a Google Sheets document documenting how the money has been used.
The smallest donation — $30 from a group of elementary school children who saved their pocket money while homeschooling — was “the biggest in many ways,” she said.
Although the pandemic has been particularly hard on migrant workers, some, such as Bangladeshi national Rubel, have made new friends in Singapore.
Last May, he signed up for a virtual language exchange program called “WeTalk” by the COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition.
The 29-year-old also keeps in regular contact with other workers and Singaporeans through a WhatsApp chat group of 42 people.
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