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Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin was one of the volunteers helping to pack supplies for migrant workers on SHN on Vesak Day. Contents of the care pack ranged from fresh fruits and dates to shaving cream and detergent. Photo by Tan Huey Ying.

On Vesak Day, May 7, over 12,000 migrant workers from 260 dormitories received care packages as part of an effort started by Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) and Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) in partnership with other organisations to bring some semblance of festive cheer to workers.

Just last Thursday, May 1, the Stay Home Notice for workers was extended to May 18,  an extra 14 days into Ramadan including Vesak Day.

From the Christian perspective, the nation will be exalted; from society’s perspective, the needy will be taken care of.

Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker of Parliament, Denise Phua, Mayor of Central CDC and Minister of Parliament Joan Pereira, along with Bishop Terry Kee, President of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, attended the launch where 300 volunteers over two centres helped pack, sort and deliver the care packages to each dormitory.

These packs contained items ranging from important hygiene products such as hand sanitisers, masks, soap and shaving cream, sundries such as detergent and towels, food items like biscuits, milk and fresh fruit, and even small treats such as peanuts, dates and muruku.

Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin, who was invited to give an opening remark before the first vehicles were loaded, said that this was a “significant effort” to show care for others during a “rainy day” such as this.

As a “nation of doers” who are involved for caring for others, Tan said, such a society will be “fundamentally different.”

Volunteers at the launch of the Ramadan and Vesak Day care pack distribution. Photo provided by HIA-AGWO.

Volunteers at the launch of the Ramadan and Vesak Day care pack distribution. Photo provided by HIA-AGWO.

The greatest commandment

Commending AGWO’s outreach efforts in feeding and caring for over 12,000 workers since the start of Circuit Breaker, Mayor Denise Phua emphasised that actions speak louder than words. AGWO is chaired by Ps Samuel Gift Stephen of Smyrna Assembly.

“Righteousness” is about doing things that are fair, just and kind.”

Referencing what is known as the Greatest Commandment, she told Salt&Light: “What’s encouraging to see, is that Christians are practising what they preach and putting deeds behind their words.

“As Christians, we are called first to love God, but very quickly to also love our neighbours as ourselves.”

Deborah Quek, 33, a volunteer who had been there to manage the logistics since 6am, said: “I’m glad I can help. It’s fulfilling to be able to contribute in a practical manner.”

Quek, who is from Hope Church, said this was her first time volunteering in-person since the Circuit Breaker started. Pre-Covid, she used to do house visits to the elderly in rental flats fortnightly.

Volunteers Deborah Quek (in red) and Sharon Teo (in black) were helping out at the event since 6am that morning which Quek describes as "fulfilling". Photo by Tan Huey Ying.

Volunteers Deborah Quek (in red) and Sharon Teo (in black) were helping out at the event since 6am that morning which Quek describes as “fulfilling”. Photo by Tan Huey Ying.

Making life better

In times of crises, Christians must do their part to help make someone’s life better, said MP Joan Pereira. “Everyone faces challenges, and nothing beats knowing that there are people who care and who really love them.”

“They are practising what they preach and putting deeds behind their words.”

Quek said she appreciated “seeing a different side” of these figureheads who turned up in their personal capacities to pack boxes side-by-side with them.

Rev Dr William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, said it is written in Scriptures that “righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14:34).

“Righteousness” is about doing things that are fair, just and kind, expressed when a society looks after the most vulnerable and needy, said Rev Dr Wan.

“The greatness of a society is reflected in how a society comes together to exercise righteousness towards one another.

“So from the Christian perspective, the nation will be exalted; from society’s perspective, the needy will be taken care of.”

 

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About the author

Tan Huey Ying

Salt&Light writer Huey Ying is a millennial with a résumé to prove it – she was a plankton-sized part of the finance industry before serving in a Christian organisation. She loves the sea and you will find her somewhere near the water during her holidays.