TWC2 Executive Committee member Debbie Fordyce was featured in a two-page spread in The New Paper, September 30, 2011. The story’s focus was on her extending hospitality to injured migrant workers, letting them stay with her in your apartment till they have recovered or their cases resolved. You can read the full story by downloading the pdf file.
She told the newspaper that she was doing so out of a moral imperative. No money changes hands. “I don’t get anything out of it except the pleasure of their company,” she said, pointing out that workers who are injured and jobless cannot afford $200 a month to rent a bedspace in a crowded tenement.
The feature article explained that injuries are sometimes serious enough to making living in dormitories impossible. Workers with broken legs or back injuries can’t use a squat toilet, for example. Moreover, staying in employers’ dormitories means workers are exposed to the risk of forcible repatriation when employers wish to avoid having to pay their medical bills, as required by law.
Some of her neighbours in the condominium are not happy with what she is doing, getting together to write letters of complaint to the condo management and government authorities. They have accused her guests of posing security risks to residents, though they has never been any case of misbehaviour. The workers who stay with her tend to keep to themselves inside her apartment. What lies beneath such complaints is class prejudice — the notion that a condominium should be out of bounds to foreign workers unless they are workmen serving residents.
Debbie thinks the whole question about why she is doing what she does — which was what motivated the newspaper to feature her — to be rather misguided. Why is extending goodwill and hospitality considered so worthy of inquiry? It should be the other way around, she argues: Why aren’t more people doing the same?
The newspaper took her point, using that question as its headline.