Carnival at Grandstand for foreign domestic helpers to thank them for contributions

Some 5,000 foreign domestic workers gather at the Grandstand for the annual Foreign Domestic Worker Day, organised by non-governmental group FAST. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Some 5,000 foreign domestic workers gather at the Grandstand for the annual Foreign Domestic Worker Day, organised by non-governmental group FAST. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Some 5,000 foreign domestic workers gather at the Grandstand for the annual Foreign Domestic Worker Day, organised by non-governmental group FAST. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Some 5,000 foreign domestic workers gather at the Grandstand for the annual Foreign Domestic Worker Day, organised by non-governmental group FAST. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Some 5,000 foreign domestic workers gather at the Grandstand for the annual Foreign Domestic Worker Day, organised by non-governmental group FAST. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Some 5,000 foreign domestic workers gather at the Grandstand for the annual Foreign Domestic Worker Day, organised by non-governmental group FAST. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

SINGAPORE - It may have been a grey skies Sunday in many parts of the island, but over at the Grandstand on Turf Club Road, flashes of colour and a festive mood was thriving.

There were stalls selling delicacies such as meat skewers, booths where participants could play funfair games such as throwing ping pong balls into cups, and instant photo taking booths where foreign domestic workers were seen having a ball of a time.

Dance performances and a talent show, where foreign domestic workers could show off their skills ranging from traditional dance to folk song performances, were also part of the day's festivities.

The 5,000 guests at Sunday's event were enjoying their days off at the annual Foreign Domestic Worker Day - an event organised by non-governmental group Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Skills Training (Fast).

Now in its fifth edition, the event hopes to acknowledge the societal contributions of foreign domestic workers.

It is supported by more than 25 other non-government groups and partners, including the Association of Employment Agencies in Singapore, the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People and the Muhajirin Mosque.

The guest-of-honour was Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health.

FAST president Seah Seng Choon said in his speech that there are about 230,000 foreign domestic workers currently working here, helping households cook, clean and care for the young and elderly. He added: "Today's event is our way of acknowledging the contributions of our domestic helpers."

During the event, Mr Seah also announced that FAST will be setting up a second clubhouse to cater to the increasing number of foreign domestic workers who will be enjoying weekly days off, since this was made mandatory in Jan 1, 2013.

The second clubhouse, which will provide amenities, support groups and counselling, is likely to open in the last quarter of 2015.

The first clubhouse, a 2,800 sqf space at 10 Raeburn Park, near the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, was opened in May 2014. It features karaoke facilities, a library and a computer lab. Since then, more than 1,500 foreign domestic workers have signed up as members.