Foreign domestic workers to get new, bigger clubhouse

(From left) Employer Umi Saleha with her FDW Sri Wahyuni, who won the FDW of the year award; and FDW Sasenthu Kankanamge Suneetha Iranganie with her employer Bhamah Ramdas, who won the FDW employer of the year award, at yesterday's Foreign Domestic W
(From left) Employer Umi Saleha with her FDW Sri Wahyuni, who won the FDW of the year award; and FDW Sasenthu Kankanamge Suneetha Iranganie with her employer Bhamah Ramdas, who won the FDW employer of the year award, at yesterday's Foreign Domestic Workers Day.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Foreign domestic workers (FDWs) may soon get a new clubhouse that is 10 times larger than their current premises - and where they can relax, socialise, exercise, pick up skills, undergo counselling and remit money, among others.

Plans are afoot to rent the now-defunct Telok Kurau Secondary School building located in Chin Cheng Avenue as the new clubhouse under the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast).

The news was announced by Fast's president Seah Seng Choon during the ninth Foreign Domestic Workers Day yesterday held at the Institute of Technical Education College Central campus in Ang Mo Kio.

Addressing the maids in his welcome speech, Mr Seah said: "Last year, I promised you a new and bigger clubhouse in view of the huge membership (of Fast). The good news is that we have already identified a larger location for our new clubhouse and we plan to move in by the middle of next year."

He said Fast is currently in talks to rent the Telok Kurau Secondary building, renovate it and move in by the middle of next year.

Renovation costs are estimated to be in hundreds of thousands of dollars, but he said Fast is confident of raising the money through sponsors, partners and well-wishers.

Its current 500-capacity clubhouse in Jalan Bukit Merah is fully utilised, said Mr Seah. Fast is understood to have some 8,000 members.

The new facility, which can accommodate some 5,000 people, will feature a training academy, social service hub with counselling and mediation services, and more.

There will be a sports arena for games such as volleyball, basketball and badminton; a gymnasium; an aerobics hall, a yoga room, music lounge, cafeteria, sundry shop and more.

FDWs will be able to remit money, utilise courier services and top up their SIM cards too.

Said Mr Seah: "We hope FDWs will gather at the new clubhouse, instead of at other places such as Lucky Plaza. We want them to have a place to call their own, where they can celebrate their birthdays, enjoy the facilities and activities such as line dancing and zumba."

He said Fast will also start providing training courses for FDWs to build capabilities in caring for people with stroke, dementia, Parkinson's disease and disabilities.

These new courses, which are expected to start in a couple of months, are in response to Singapore's ageing population. Skills taught include knowing when to give medication, how to move patients, how to communicate with them and where to seek help.

Earlier this month, Fast launched the Caregiver Support Service and Helpline (1800-339-2273, or 1800 FDW CARE), to help FDWs who provide caregiving services manage stress and build mental resilience.

Awards were also given out yesterday in categories such as FDW and FDW employer of the year.

Indonesian FDW Sri Wahyuni, 51, who won the FDW of the year award, typically spends her rest days hanging out with friends in Bukit Gombak or at City Plaza.

She said: "I'm not very familiar with this new clubhouse, but I am looking forward to it."

Sri Lankan FDW Bopege Podihamy, 62, the first runner-up, said: "I really want to go to the new clubhouse. I like badminton."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2018, with the headline 'Foreign domestic workers to get new, bigger clubhouse'. Print Edition | Subscribe