Charity spreads new year cheer with virtual concert dedicated to foreign domestic workers

Ms Mary Jane (left) and her employer, Ms Jez Lim, performed a K-pop dance together at the Fast new year online concert, on Jan 17, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - After three years away from her family, foreign domestic worker Mary Jane had fervently looked forward to visiting her son for his birthday in the Philippines' Quirino province in January last year.

The 33-year-old, who has worked here for seven years now, was left disappointed when Covid-19 disrupted her travel plans and forced her to stay back in Singapore. She was comforted by her employer, Ms Jez Lim, who encouraged her to video call her friends and family regularly to stay in touch with them.

As the pandemic wore on, both turned to jazz dancing at home to support each other's well-being.

On Sunday (Jan 17), the duo got a chance to perform in a virtual concert organised in a bid to lift the spirits of foreign domestic workers here who have had to stay at home on their rest days and away from their family during the pandemic.

Organised by local charity Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast), the three-hour virtual show Fast Forward 2021 featured singing and dancing performances.

Minister of State for Manpower and Education Gan Siow Huang was guest of honour at the event, which was held at the Singapore Manufacturing Federation Building and streamed live on Facebook. The virtual show could be viewed by foreign domestic workers on their mobile devices.

In her opening address at the concert, Ms Gan acknowledged the essential role played by foreign domestic workers in Singapore, many of whom are primary caregivers in households, and commended their support in adhering to safety measures to protect the community from Covid-19.

While it was difficult to meet her friends during the circuit breaker and earlier reopening phases because of the restrictions, Ms Mary Jane said it was not too stressful staying at home with Ms Lim and her four-year-old daughter.

"In phase three, I am able to meet my friends freely but we must still practise safety measures to prevent Covid-19. I am hopeful about visiting my family back home when it is safe to travel again," she said.

Minister of State for Manpower and Education Gan Siow Huang delivering remarks at the Fast new year online concert on Jan 17, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Ms Lim, a human resource manager, said that she was able to manage the household last year by ensuring everyone at home followed the proper safe distancing measures, exercised proper hygiene and sanitation and took extra precautionary measures when they receive home deliveries.

"I am very thankful that everyone is healthy and with Mary Jane around, managing the household during the pandemic is bearable," she said.

In addition to the performances, the concert also featured interactive games sessions and information on Fast's programmes.

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