By TWC2 volunteer Kaavya G, based on an interview in August 2020

Rana Mohammad Masud injured his thumb more than a year back in August 2019. When attended to by the doctor, a metal implant was put into this thumb to help it heal.

The implant was scheduled to be removed in October 2019, but the employer refused to provide a letter of guarantee to the hospital for the (relatively small) cost of surgery, and the operation was cancelled, leaving Masud high and dry.

Then Covid-19 came around and everything went into slow-motion.

With the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown, we advised Masud to try to get another surgical appointment. It should be simple enough: contact the hospital, identify yourself with your patient number — which will enable the hospital to pull up their records — and ask. Masud’s English is good enough for this.

Masud comes back to TWC2’s free meals programme tonight and tells me how it went.

“I call NUH today,” he begins. But all he got was an automated message.

“I don’t understand; I don’t know press one or two”, Rana laughs as he recalls the incident.

We live in a technologically advanced world today, and we are all bound to have gone through similar incidents. I still get confused and frustrated with instructions given over the phone.

Recently, it has also been mentioned in the media and government announcements that migrant workers have to download apps such as Tracetogether, SGWorkPass and FWMOMCare, which aid in contract tracing and are used to record their health status and residential address. There are penalties for not complying.

This makes me wonder how the workers are going to navigate these apps. Even if they do know how to use these apps, a smartphone is required to download the apps. So what will happen to those with no smartphones?

Then they should get one, some might say. But with their low salaries, a simple smartphone can cost half a month’s wages.

Additional costs will also be incurred as a data plan is required to access digital applications. We should also keep in mind that English is not their first language, and most of these apps are programmed in English. How will migrant workers be able to use these apps?

A simple conversation with Rana has made me wonder what post-quarantine life will be like for our migrant workers.