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Before going home on 18 July 2018, Paik Sorowar went around to thank every volunteer and staff member of TWC2 who had helped him in any way big or small. He may see Transient Workers Count Too as the ones who gave him a brand new skull implant, but it’s really the Lighthouse Club Singapore — a charitable society which supports those in need in the construction industry — who funded the very expensive surgery. TWC2 thanks the Lighthouse Club for their support.
Sorowar does not know what the future will hold after repatriation. All he knows is that he has a new lease on life, which itself is far more than he could reasonably have expected after a tragic incident on 17 October 2017.
As a result of short-term memory loss, it’s hard to piece together what really occurred. Apparently, after finishing work at around 10pm, he was on his way to a nearby shop to buy some groceries. The last thing he remembers was waiting along one side of Kim Chuan Terrace to cross over to the other side.
When he awoke, he was already in the hospital and operated on. His brain had swelled and the doctors needed to relieve the pressure inside his smashed skull.
Meanwhile, his employer was getting worried because he hadn’t returned after leaving late at night, which was uncharacteristic of him. It was only two days later, when a nurse finally answered Sorowar’s mobile phone that his employer found out he’d been in an accident and was hospitalised.
The boss asked the hospital why there was no attempt to contact them earlier. The hospital said that Sorowar had no belongings or identification on him. TWC2 later heard that the paramedics at the scene did retrieve his wallet but it somehow was misplaced along the way. According to the police, a passer-by spotted him collapsed on the pathway and called for an ambulance.
Sorowar wasn’t recovering well and his speech was slurred. A second operation was done and this time, the front part of his skull was removed. He was in intensive care for about six or seven days. It was about two weeks from the accident before he was finally discharged.
Till now, we do not know the full details of what really happened. It could have been a case of hit-and-run.
Sorowar’s employer, Fatt Chan Iron Canvas Tent Construction, was very supportive of their employee. They covered the cost of the initial hospitalisation and surgeries. These were huge costs, as one can imagine.
But Sorowar was now left with half his skull missing. There was only soft skin covering the entire frontal cortex and more. It’s impossible to live a normal life like that. He would be highly vulnerable to heat with possibility of epileptic fits, and certainly to any bump on the head. Dizziness would strike each time he stood up. Doctors recommended that he should have a skull implant. The problem was that the employer had exhausted their insurance amount.
TWC2 stepped in, with Lighthouse Club behind us. The total cost of the skull implant operation, done in May 2018, was nearly $35,000. This figure includes pre-op and post-op consultations and treatment. Besides providing him with free meals over the months he was with us, TWC2 also housed Sorowar through this period to ensure that he’d have a hygienic environment to recover in and that there would always be other Bangladeshi friends around him in case he had an epileptic fit or had any other need for assistance.
Fortunately, recovery post-implant was quick, with no complications. The new ‘helmet’ was a perfect fit. There was no more slurred speech and by July, doctors had certified him fit to go home.
Sorowar, now 28 years old, has worked in Singapore for ten years and speaks well of his employer, with whom he has had a good relationship. He also likes everything about Singapore.
He has an elder brother who’s in the business of trading sand for construction, three other brothers who are working overseas, a younger brother and sister. His mother anxiously awaits his return and hopes he’ll never have to work abroad again.
TWC2 is an organization that is dedicated to assisting low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. We are motivated by a sense of fairness and humanity, though our caseload often exceeds our