Gifts from public bring festive cheer to migrant workers

Some 200 Christmas gifts were given out to workers at Fernvale Lane on Saturday (Dec 21) as part of ItsRainingRaincoats' gift donation drive for migrant workers.
Some 200 Christmas gifts were given out to workers at Fernvale Lane on Saturday (Dec 21) as part of ItsRainingRaincoats' gift donation drive for migrant workers.PHOTO: ITSRAININGRAINCOATS

The season of giving is upon us and non-governmental organisations are helping migrant workers this festive season.

Worker accommodation developer Centurion Corporation and Touch International, a charity, are giving away $500,000 of vouchers to migrant workers.

Meanwhile, ItsRainingRaincoats, a social enterprise for migrant workers, has launched its second consecutive Christmas donation drive.

Centurion distributed $10 vouchers totalling $500,000 to the first 50,000 migrant workers who redeem them on their e-wallets on the MyMA app between Christmas Day and Feb 29. The free lifestyle and entertainment app, which is aimed at migrant workers, is run by Centurion in partnership with the Ministry of Manpower.

Centurion chief executive Kong Chee Min said: "As a specialised accommodation owner and manager, we have a role to play in enhancing the lives of our foreign worker community, as well as addressing misconceptions and fostering diversity and social inclusion of migrant workers...

"Foreign workers make significant contributions in helping build Singapore and form an integral part of our society."

ItsRainingRaincoats started its gift-giving initiative on Nov 16.

Wrapped gifts donated by the public are distributed by volunteers at various places such as construction sites and worker dormitories.

Donors are advised to wrap gifts and contribute things such as towels, non-perishable chocolates and cookies, top-up data cards, headphones, Tiger Balm, toiletries, umbrellas, raincoats, sunglasses, caps, backpacks, water bottles, T-shirts, dental kits and gift vouchers.

SINGAPOREANS CARE

We want to show workers how much we appreciate what they do to build Singapore.

MS DIPA SWAMINATHAN, founder of social enterprise ItsRainingRaincoats, on the overwhelming response from the public.

There have been around 30 distributions in various locations .

The public can volunteer through phone numbers on the ItsRainingRaincoats website. About 350 volunteers have signed up to give out gifts, up from 200 last year.

 
 
 
 

Founder Dipa Swaminathan told The Sunday Times the group is overwhelmed by the public's response from last year's drive.

"What we managed to do successfully is to allow the public to reach out to migrant workers in an easy and meaningful way," she noted.

"We want to show workers how much we appreciate what they do to build Singapore."

Safety coordinator Narayanan Palaniyappan, an Indian national, told The Sunday Times he received his gifts yesterday but gave them to his workers.

"All the workers... really appreciate all the gifts. More than 150 of us got gifts and there were a lot of useful daily items for everyone."

The initiatives came after a recent survey by the International Labour Organisation and United Nations Women found that just 25 per cent of Singaporeans said there is a need for migrant workers, while 70 per cent agreed that there is a labour shortage here.

The survey also found that more than 50 per cent believe crime has increased and the country's culture and heritage have been threatened because of migrant workers.

Ms Swaminathan, who started ItsRainingRaincoats in 2015, said: "Our experience is the opposite of what the survey found; Singaporeans deeply value the service of migrant workers.

"People give their time and energy to initiatives like ours and the interest in volunteering is increasing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 22, 2019, with the headline 'Gifts from public bring festive cheer to migrant workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe