Although the outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in the cessation of many of our ministry activities, The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) has been keeping up with our efforts to sow God’s Word though various digital platforms and initiatives, and sow care to the needy, just as Jesus has commanded us to love our neighbours—especially those who have been badly affected by the virus.
SowCare—the charity arm of BSS—has partnered with the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO), a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance to initiate a Care Meals distribution exercise to bless guest workersliving in factory-converted dormitories (FCDs). We have distributed a total of 1,027,505 Care Meals and more than 1.2 million essential items (hygiene packs, medical supplies and other foodstuffs) to around 500,000 guest workers in more than 300 dormitories. Beyond this, we are also continuing to work with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) in providing meals to guest workers who are facing repatriation. This could not have been done without our dedicated partners, donors and volunteers.
The meal distribution exercise was initially planned as a one-day exercise on Good Friday, 10 April, to bless the guest workers. However, due to the overwhelming demand, it continued throughout the circuit breaker, and even beyond phase one. We would like to show our heartfelt appreciation towards the Ministry of Manpower and Migrant Workers’ Centre for having us as their core community partner in serving the guest workers and meeting their needs amidst this unprecedented global crisis.
There were also additional distribution exercises on various occasions. On 18 April, a mask distribution exercise was organised upon the request of MOM. In total, over 110 volunteer drivers were mobilised to deliver reusable masks to 192 FCDs. On 7 May, over 300 volunteers came together to help pack and distribute Festive Care packs to over 12,000 guest workers in 260 FCDs. This distribution effort also saw the participation of many community leaders, such as—Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Ms Joan Pereira, Ms Denise Phua and many others.
On 9 May, another special distribution exercise was conducted in partnership with MOM, which provided 3,000 prayer mats to guest workers in 66 dormitories. Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Defence, also visited the dorms during this distribution exercise. Additionally, on 23 and 24 May, the guest workers received an extra pack of foodstuffs, as well as enhanced meals. This initiative provided meals for 7,000 guest workers in over 110 FCDs.
As part of efforts to engage the wider community in order to serve even more guest workers, the ‘Adopt- A-Dorm’ initiative was launched on 20 April, where 32 organisations formally committed to care for the guest workers in a sustainable manner.
One of our volunteers, Mr Joshua Eswaran, was emotional as he remembers the unforgettable experience he had with the guest workers on the ground. “A Bangladeshi guy called me, asking for help and he said he needed food. He and his friends had not eaten for three days. It was very hard for me because I never expected that we would have such a case. I think it should never happen to anyone.”
SowCare would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our volunteers who have participated in this joint national effort to care for the guest workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We are thankful to each and every individual who has sacrificed their time and resources, and shared what they have to make a difference in the lives of these guest workers.
We are thankful for our many partners, donors and volunteers who have encapsulated the ‘kampung spirit’ by coming together during these unprecedented times to lend a helping hand to our fellow brothers.
As the nation slowly gears itself for an uncertain future, may we not forget our Heavenly Father’s call to love our neighbours amidst adversity.