Coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Buddhist charity donates relief bags to Sri Lankan students studying here

Buddhist charity Tzu Chi Singapore donated 250 relief bags to Sri Lankan students studying here who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The bags were handed over to the Sri Lanka High Commission for distribution to the students.
Buddhist charity Tzu Chi Singapore donated 250 relief bags to Sri Lankan students studying here who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO: SRI LANKA HIGH COMMISSION IN SINGAPORE

The lockdown in Sri Lanka in March and April to stem the coronavirus spread made many Sri Lankan students in Singapore worried.

The nationwide restrictions in their country and disruptions to international money transfer services meant that the students' families were unable to send them money for their living expenses here. They are not allowed to work in Singapore as they are on student visas.

By mid-April, the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore had received requests from 500 Sri Lankan students here seeking help for daily necessities.

That was when Buddhist charity Tzu Chi Singapore stepped in, with 250 bags of edible supplies comprising rice, cooking oil, spices and dried food as well as essential items such as face masks. Each bag also included a letter of encouragement.

"In the letter, (we tell them that) although they are from Sri Lanka and may not have many friends or relatives here, our society cares for them, as doing good knows no borders," said Tzu Chi Singapore's general manager Keng Lim.

The relief bags were packed by the charity's volunteers and then handed over to the Sri Lanka High Commission for distribution.

Tzu Chi Singapore had learnt about the students' plight from one of its volunteers, who is from Sri Lanka.

Most of the students, some 1,000 of them, are in Singapore for a six-month to one-year diploma programme at a polytechnic or private education institution. Some of them flew home last Wednesday, with 750 to 800 of them still here.

Ms Amadani Dalpadadu, 27, is among those who remain in Singapore. She has just completed her higher diploma in hospitality, travel and tourism at the London School of Business and Finance private school and is waiting for her internship to start in July.

Referring to the relief bag, she said: "It makes a big difference to us and I'm very grateful. I hope that more Sri Lankan students will receive the goodie bags, too."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2020, with the headline 'Buddhist charity donates relief bags to Sri Lankan students studying here'. Print Edition | Subscribe