Volunteers distribute 10,000 red apples to migrant workers on National Day

Mr Ahmed Shamim and Mr Khan Jakir Hossain receiving their apples from the Covid-19 Migrant Support Coalition on Aug 9. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

SINGAPORE - Migrant workers housed in over 30 dormitories in Singapore received 10,000 red apples on Monday (Aug 9) to mark National Day and remind them of the importance of having a balanced diet.

It was part of the WeFruits campaign by volunteer group, Covid-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC).

More than 50 volunteers came together to organise the distribution of the apples that were purchased with donations from the public.

Co-founder and co-lead of the group Renita Sophia Crasta, 38, said: "The theme of this National Day was 'Emerging Stronger', and we felt that this theme really relates to the well-being of the workers. It is to let them feel that they are cared for and part of our community, and also that we value their health.

"We want to encourage them and keep their spirits up."

The initiative was rolled out after CMSC volunteers observed that during the circuit breaker last year, foreign workers consumed a large amount of rice during mealtimes without much meat, vegetables or fruits.

They were not allowed to leave the grounds of their dormitories.

Besides receiving two apples each on Monday, the workers were also given postcards in English with nutrition tips.

More than 200 pupils from Sengkang Green Primary School had written messages of thanks on the postcards, to show their appreciation for the workers' contribution to Singapore and cheer them on.

CMSC also prepared a series of activities to celebrate National Day with the workers, hosting the event online in the evening.

The group intends for the campaign to continue beyond National Day and will vary the types of fruits to be distributed. They will be visiting a dormitory in Choa Chu Kang on Aug 22.

They are also working with stakeholders, such as employers and food suppliers towards supporting better food and nutrition standards for the workers.

Ms Crasta, a Singaporean lawyer, added that they have compiled a list of caterers providing more nutritional meals to make it easier for employers to contact them.

One of the stakeholders is Mr Sazzad Hossain, who is co-founder and chief executive officer of DoorMart, an e-commerce platform for grocery and catering.

Besides receiving two apples each on Monday, the workers were also given postcards in English with nutrition tips and messages of thanks from pupils. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

The company aims to provide affordable nutritional meals to the workers.

Mr Sazzad, who moved from Bangladesh to Singapore with his family when he was 11 years old, said: "Currently, the workers do not have much option when they subscribe to other caterers. They don't have an option to add more vegetables or fruits.

"So we have that option in our mobile application, and they can choose a menu and upgrade it to have more vegetables or fruits."

He added that they are also tweaking their menu to meet the needs of the workers culturally.

"I think it's also about presenting the vegetables in a way that they love so that taste and everything is preserved," he said.

Mr Ahmed Shamim and Covid-19 Migrant Support Coalition co-founder and co-lead Renita Sophia Crasta on Aug 9. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

Bangladeshi Khan Jakir Hossain was grateful for the activities, assistance and food they received. The 36-year-old said he has been unable to go anywhere other than the recreation centre at his dormitory in Tuas for the past 15 months.

Foreign workers living in dormitories have been restricted to their rooms and are allowed to leave for work or designated recreation centres only on some days.

He said: "We are happy because we cannot go out to buy anything. Even when we need to do go out, it is difficult.

"So when people donate something to us, we are happy. We have received much help and really appreciate it."

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