Coronavirus pandemic

Bukit Timah welcome with care packs for foreign workers

Volunteer Annie Gan helped to pack items for migrant workers who have been tested for the coronavirus and have been given the all-clear before they moved into temporary accommodation in Kismis Avenue.
Volunteer Annie Gan helped to pack items for migrant workers who have been tested for the coronavirus and have been given the all-clear before they moved into temporary accommodation in Kismis Avenue.PHOTO: ANNIE GAN

A group of residents from Bukit Timah welcomed 1,030 foreign workers into their neighbourhood on May 20 with care packs that included food and personal care items such as bar soaps and mosquito coils.

The workers have moved into temporary accommodation at the former Ngee Ann Polytechnic staff apartments in 90, 92 and 94 Kismis Avenue. They are in essential services, and have been tested for the coronavirus and been given the all-clear.

One of the resident volunteers, Ms Corinna Choong, 54, wanted to welcome the workers as a good neighbour.

"The workers must be feeling lost and uncertain about their future, their health and even their livelihoods... We are happy to contribute to comfort them and show that the kampung spirit is alive and well in Bukit Timah," said Ms Choong, a senior director of marketing and communications.

The Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) welfare group provided 320 bowls of cup noodles and 1,100 packets of puff rice for the care packs. Non-profit group Project Chulia Street contributed food and 250 prayer mats, while ground-up movement SG Makers Against Covid-19 donated 1,100 "ear savers" - extensions that help reduce pain around the ears due to mask straps.

Through social media and their website BTCares.sg, the resident volunteers raised more than $27,000 in cash and in-kind donations, under MWC's Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund.

The cash was used to buy items that were not donated in-kind and the various items were then packed by the volunteers in their own homes.

These resident volunteers from the Toh Yi public housing estate and Eng Kong-Cheng Soon private housing estate - both in the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC - got together after finding out about the workers' temporary move into their neighbourhood.

They formed the Bukit Timah Foreign Workers Liaison Committee in April with the help of Ms Sim Ann, their MP and grassroots adviser for the Bukit Timah ward, and grassroots volunteers.

 
 
 
 

Said Ms Sim: "Two months ago, they were strangers to each other. Now, we have 17 residents who are not only friends but united in a good cause.

"I have been very impressed with the passion, speed and resourcefulness of our ground-up group. Many are first-time volunteers, but they have been operating like a seasoned team from the get-go."

Leading the group is Ms Annie Gan, 49, who runs design-and-build company SCB Group and is a member of the Bukit Timah Citizens' Consultative Committee.

"Our aim is to build an inclusive and warm society where everyone feels welcomed. Looking at how each care pack brought a smile to each migrant worker, I am beyond touched to say that we have achieved this aim," she said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2020, with the headline 'Bukit Timah welcome with care packs for foreign workers'. Subscribe