Donations stave off imminent closure of cultural centre for Bengali foreign workers in Little India

File photo of migrant workers who gather weekly at Dibashram to unleash the hidden poet, actor, singer or writer in them.
File photo of migrant workers who gather weekly at Dibashram to unleash the hidden poet, actor, singer or writer in them. PHOTO: BANGLAR KANTHA

SINGAPORE - A crowdfunding site has raised about $4,500 in five days to help keep a cultural centre for foreign workers open.

The labour movement has also said it will provide assistance to Dibashram, a place for Bengali workers to discuss poetry, play music and enjoy other cultural activities.

"We are grateful for the assistance and support," said Mr Abdul Khaeer Mohammed Mohsin, who runs the space in Little India.

The good Samaritans were responding to a story in The Sunday Times on how Dibashram could shut down next month (June) because Mr Mohsin can no longer afford to pay for rent and utilities at the Rowell Road shophouse where it is housed.

 

In a letter to the Forum Page of The Straits Times, Migrant Workers' Centre chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said that Dibashram's activities, which include poetry competitions, photography exhibitions and counselling services, are "positive efforts to help workers here integrate better".

 

The Migrant Workers' Centre is an initiative of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers' Federation.

Mr Yeo said he will be in touch with Mr Mohsin on how to "help the good work of the centre continue".

For the past five years, Dibashram has been bankrolled by the advertising revenue brought in by Banglar Kantha, a local monthly Bengali paper.

But Mr Mohsin, who is also the paper's editor, said that profits had been hit by falling advertising revenue. Currently, the centre needs about $3,000 a month to operate.

After the Sunday Times story ran, a few advertisers had also contacted him, said Mr Mohsin.

He added: "Although it is not a permanent solution, we are thankful for the support that locals here had shown."

Those who would like to contribute can do so at https://give.asia/movement/please_contribute_to_keep_dibashram_open

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