Being Santa To Singapore’s 700,000 Migrant Workers

“This is our way to say thank you to you all.”

Ruchi stood on the stage as she explained to the crowd of workers that the gifts we bore today were all prepared by Singaporeans all over the island. I caught glimpses of smiles across some of the tired faces, and that was when I realised just how rewarding an initiative like this was.

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It’srainingraincoats (founded by Dipa Swaminathan) has been around for years, and behind its name lies a story that tugs at your heartstrings.

You could say that Dipa became an advocate for migrant workers by accident… she passed a construction site where a group of workers was wearing garbage bags for raincoats… She knew it was a long shot, but she called up the company and threatened to take the photo to the authorities, press, and social media if the workers weren’t given proper wet-weather gear. She recalls having the phone slammed down on her. But it seems her message got through. When it poured the next day, Dipa drove back to the same spot, and saw that the workers were kitted out in raincoats, hats and boots. It was a small victory, but it showed her that her voice had made a difference. Her World

The group holds events such as donation drives to provide foreign workers with essentials and gifts, all to make them feel more at home right in Singapore! On Deepavali, they encourage locals to gift phone cards so that they can contact their loved ones and this Christmas, they held a donation drive to collect wrapped presents from locals to gift to the workers!

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( Source )

The night before, we excitedly prepared gifts of our own too (such as earphones and toothbrushes), and included small “Thank You” cards inside!

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We were in awe to be given the opportunity to travel within the walls of a construction site. Along the quiet road was rows and rows of growing banana trees, and there were even money plants growing out of helmets decorating the shelters (as pointed out by another lovely volunteer).

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It was heartwarming to see that volunteers had brought their children along to learn from this compassionate effort, and everyone was excited to start distributing.

“Days before the event, I heard that they actually had one opposite my house and I felt that it was extra meaningful that we gifted to the foreign workers who are building this MRT station for us living nearby” – Sarah, Volunteer

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On top of the Christmas gifts given to every worker, there were also quizzes played for prizes, with questions that roused laughter and amusement all around. After the distribution, the workers even kindly approached us with boxes of cokes and water to cool off from the warm day.

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We give our deepest thanks to Itsrainingraincoats for facilitating this wonderful exchange between Singaporeans and foreign workers, for allowing us the opportunity to spend this Season of Giving doing something so meaningful and rewarding.

Our migrant workers are the people who made Singapore possible, and we should never stop letting them know how thankful we are for that.

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