Workers' cultural space gets offer of help

Dibashram, located in a Rowell Road shophouse, organises various activities for migrant workers such as poetry competitions, photography exhibitions and festive celebrations.
Dibashram, located in a Rowell Road shophouse, organises various activities for migrant workers such as poetry competitions, photography exhibitions and festive celebrations.ST FILE PHOTO

Aa migrant workers' cultural space that was struggling to stay open has received an offer of help. This came after its owner said he was finding it too expensive to continue operations.

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

Mr Abdul Khaeer Mohammed Mohsin, who runs both Dibashram and local monthly Bengali newspaper Banglar Kantha, had been using the paper's profits to pay for the centre's rent and utilities, which cost about $3,000 a month.

But advertising revenue has fallen and he can no longer afford the payments for the Rowell Road shophouse where Dibashram is housed.

Mr Yeo said he will be in touch with Mr Mohsin on how to "help the good work of the centre continue". The Straits Times understands that the MWC is offering its premises on the condition that its staff can help out at Dibashram.

"I'm grateful for the help," said Mr Mohsin, adding that he is still considering the offer.

Besides MWC's support, a crowdfunding site by researchers Mohan Dutta and Manishankar Prasad has raised more than $4,800 in five days in an ongoing campaign.

Mr Mohsin is also currently in talks with dormitories that are interested to buy copies of Banglar Kantha for their residents.

A couple of companies have also showed interest in taking out advertisements since the plight of the centre was reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2016, with the headline 'Workers' cultural space gets offer of help'. Print Edition | Subscribe