Volunteer opens her home to be charity's collection point for donated gifts to migrant workers in S'pore

ItsRainingRaincoats founder Dipa Swaminathan distributes presents donated by members of the public to migrant workers on Dec 16, 2021. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - She will never forget the first time she set out to deliver a donated item to a migrant worker. It was during the circuit breaker last year, and Mrs Reshma Murthy, 49, drove from her condominium in Upper East Coast to a dormitory in Tuas to deliver a hair trimmer.

It was an hour-long drive, but Mrs Murthy felt the small gesture was worth the effort, as she was helping the migrant community help itself.

Speaking to The Sunday Times recently, the senior marketing manager explained: "With this one item, they could cut each other's hair and feel better about not being able to go out due to the movement controls in place at the time."

Married with two sons, aged 14 and 20, she started volunteering with non-profit organisation ItsRainingRaincoats during the circuit breaker, and is one of 20 volunteers who have opened their homes since Dec 10 to be collection points for the public to drop off newly bought items as gifts to migrant workers this Christmas.

Since the Christmas campaign kicked off on Dec 10, Mrs Murthy has received about 450 presents. She works with other volunteers to deliver the presents to migrant workers at various construction projects and construction sites.

Said Mrs Murthy: "I'm very happy more people feel for the migrant workers.

"A lot of parents have contacted me. They come with their kids because they want to teach their children how important migrant workers are for our society and how much they've helped us."

ItsRainingRaincoats founder Dipa Swaminathan, 50, said that the non-profit organisation has received about 20 per cent more presents than in the same period last year. This is the fourth year it is having a Christmas donation drive.

While the initiative is a way to show appreciation of migrant workers, it is also how the organisation extends a helping hand to the workers who may not be aware of avenues for assistance.

Whenever volunteers deliver presents to workers, they will ask for their contact numbers to add them to a support group run by ItsRainingRaincoats.

When ItsRainingRaincoats receives donations-in-kind from the public such as refrigerators or washing machines, it alerts these migrant workers, many of whom cannot afford such items.

It also refers workers who require dental services to Q&M Dental, which provides them with subsidised treatment.

Migrant worker Abdul Hanna, 35, was delighted when he received presents from ItsRainingRaincoats last Thursday (Dec 16).

He got a cap, water bottle, Bluetooth earphones and instant coffee sachets. Mr Abdul, who works for a landscaping company, said: "This is the first time in the 12 years I have been working in Singapore that someone has surprised me with a gift."

Migrant worker Abdul Hanna got a cap, water bottle, Bluetooth earphones and instant coffee sachets. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

His biggest Christmas wish is to be reunited with his family in India, whom he has not seen in two years. He has two sons, aged five and 11, and his wife waiting for him in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

He said: "All I can do is save money and send it back to them, so they can be well and have an education. We want to go back home, but we also know that it's hard for new workers to enter Singapore now so we want to support the company."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.