By Russell Heng
On an afternoon in March 2015, Vanessa Hardinge spoke passionately to a room of colleagues and friends about how tough life can be for many foreign workers in Singapore. At the end of her speech, Transient Workers Count Too was richer by $7,600. Meanwhile TWC2 was totally unaware of what was happening.
This was the inaugural session of a 100 Women Who Care chapter probably the first of its kind in Singapore. The group is based at The Singapore American School (SAS) in Woodlands.
For those of you like me who have not heard of 100 Women Who Care, it is a wonderful idea that is travelling round the world. A line from the Facebook page of this Singapore branch puts it succinctly: All it takes is 1 hour plus $100 x 4 times a year and 100 women can make a difference.
How does it work? Anywhere in the world, gather 100 women who are happy to donate $100 four times a year to charity. They meet 4 times a year to select a beneficiary from a list of nominations by members of the group. At the end of the meeting, $100 donations are collected from the members present and then given to the chosen charity.
So on that fateful day in March, to be precise 2 March, unbeknownst to TWC2, Vanessa spoke about the work we have been doing. She had been following TWC2’s activities on our webpage. But Vanessa herself is no stranger to helping foreign workers. She told me when I went to the school to collect the cheque about the Migrant Workers Computer programme that she helped to start in 2011. That initiative provided free computer training for the foreign workers living near the American School.
Vanessa is a Social Worker who works as SAS’ Elementary After School Activities and Athletics Director. This wife and a mother of two elementary school children hails from Portugal but has been an expat for all of her life. Since moving here in 2001, she has volunteered to teach Computer Skills and English lessons to migrant workers. She is also a Cat Welfare volunteer and over the past ten years has been in charge of the school’s stray cat sterilisation programme. That has provided health care and sterilisation surgeries to over 50 stray cats at the SAS.
Two other pitches were made that day, one for the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE). As Vanessa admitted to me, “I thought SPCA was going to win because it was a crowd that was very pet loving”. Kelly Mcfadzen another organizer of the event told me that when it came to a vote, TWC2 won convincingly.
SPCA and AWARE both do great work and are much older and bigger than TWC2. It does add to my sense of pride that we have pipped such worthy competitors. For that, I would like to say, “Great work, Vanessa. And thank you very much from all of us at TWC2”. And thank you 100 Women Who Care.
By Russell Heng, Vice-President and Head of TWC2 Fundraising Committee.