By TK

Khurshed, a migrant worker who had injured his back eight months ago, shared bashfully: “I am going to write a letter and send the photos to my wife.” This would be his very first letter home after working in Singapore for three years! He wants to share this “good-good and everything-very-nice” Gardens by the Bay outing experience with his loved ones back in Bangladesh.

TWC2 volunteers took a group of 25 workers to Gardens by the Bay on 18 May 2013 – the maiden outing of a new initiative ‘Discover Singapore’ by the organisation. Discover Singapore aims to organise outings to various scenic-and-free public places fortnightly where they can have fun and generally enjoy a day free from stress and worry about their no-work, no-income situation.

The day started off with attendance-taking at designated located in Little India. The registrants were each issued with a cap for the purpose of easy identification and a return ticket to Bayfront MRT station.  At 3pm sharp, the big group of 25 migrant workers and four volunteers walked to the nearby Farrer Park MRT station. The group had to switch trains at Dhoby Ghaut and Promenade MRT stations. At each change and each escalator, worker Shahajan, made it his responsibility to do a quick headcount – with his right index finger bobbing up and down while counting.

Before proceeding into the gardens, a stop was made at Marina Bay Sands where the workers enjoyed their first ever Toast Box coffee, peanut toast and cake; generously sponsored by BreadTalk. Thus fortfied, the group walked over to the park. Although it is a short distance from Marina Bay Sands, it took a much longer time than needed: Almost every ten steps, someone would stop for a photo, posing by the lakes, or with the impressive backdrop of the Supertrees and domes. The excitement and joy could hardly be contained. A “Best Photo” competition was held, in which one lucky migrant worker won the prize of a $10 Mustafa voucher.

With a huge smile, Shahajan said, “This is my first time coming here” and “I am going to call my wife and tell her that many people, come here jalan-jalan, enjoy”.  Without internet in his village, telephone is the only way he keeps in touch with his family.

Discover Singapore will continue to bring simple joys to the migrant workers through these outings. If you wish to sponsor the migrant workers for a meal, a tea or even the full trip cost for future outings, please kindly email to DiscoverSingapore@twc2.org.sg

The memorable pilot event ended on a high note back at Marina Bay Sands, where the migrant workers had their packed dinner and watched the laser light show. “So nice!” exclaimed Shafioul Islam, a migrant worker who suffered bone fracture in his right toe at a workplace accident. Referring to the laser image projected on the water jets, he added with a big grin: “Small boy dancing in sea water.”

It was his – and for many of them – first time watching a laser light performance.

To keep the excursion affordable, the group  stayed within the public lawns of the Gardens by the Bay and did not venture into the paid areas, but Even so, the trip, the free laser light show at Marina Bay Sands and the treat at Toast Box would be a treasured memory for the workers and TWC2 volunteers who were there.

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