It is that time of the year when a new crop of students start their university education. This week past Transient Workers Count Too have been kept busy reaching out to freshmen at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
On the morning of Wednesday, 1 August 2012, TWC2 president Russell Heng delivered a talk “Foreign Workers and the Singapore Chimera” as part of the Freshmen Orientation Programme organized by the NUS Students’ University Scholars Club. TWC2 took the opportunity to distribute 200 folders of advocacy information. At his presentation, Heng used a series of newly-designed TWC2 posters to highlight how things can go so wrong for foreign workers in Singapore and how the country’s governance can be so punishing on them.
The following morning came TWC2’s Day School programme for another group of University Scholars Programme (USP) freshmen, enabling them to get up close with foreign workers. Day School started with having breakfast alongside workers in TWC2’s soup kitchen in Little India followed by a visit to Dibashram, a drop-in centre where workers could gather to chat and chill out. Heng then explained the Ministry of Manpower rules that had cause workers to have to rely on TWC2 for free meals when many are perfectly able and willing to work hard to earn their own keep. Together with TWC2 social worker Kenneth Soh, Heng then took the students on walking tours to see where the workers hang out and where they sleep; “walking the talk”, in a manner of speaking.
After sending off the students, a tired Soh said, “This was a very good group. They not only asked questions; some questions set me thinking about what we do.”
A couple of hours later, the group’s organizer Li Fang returned the compliment in an email that said, “… The freshmen definitely gained awareness about the issues migrant workers in Singapore face, and I think this will set them thinking about society’s and their personal attitudes towards this group of people…. The work TWC2 does is inspiring and I wish you all the best with it!”