COVID-19: NGOs delivering meals, essential items to foreign workers at dormitories

Alliance of Guest Workers Organistion, a Non-Government Organistation, distributing meals and essential items to foreign workers. (PHOTO: Ministry of Manpower)

SINGAPORE — Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have been working with the inter-agency taskforce to improve on the well-being of the foreign workers at their dormitories over the past week.

Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a media release on Friday (17 April) that the taskforce has started to coordinate efforts with NGOs such as the Alliance of Guest Workers Organisation, It’s Raining Raincoats, Geylang Adventures and Crisis Relief Alliance to reach out to foreign workers, in both the purpose-built and factory-converted dormitories.

Meals and public donations

So far, the NGOs have collectively helped provide about 7,000 meals per day to the workers in factory-converted dormitories. This complements efforts by the taskforce and employers to ensure meal provision to about 200,000 workers in purpose-built dormitories and 90,000 workers in factory-converted dormitories.

The NGOs is also coordinating and delivering donations from the general public such as food items, backpacks, soap and other daily necessities to the workers who need them. This also complements the taskforce’s distribution of 160,000 care packs, which comprise reusable masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers.

“It is critical that these efforts are coordinated in an orderly way,” MOM said in the media release.

“For example, each donation of perishable food items requires manpower to distribute and generates waste that must be cleared to maintain standards of hygiene. Multiple donations of similar items take up storage spaces that can be used for isolation facilities instead.

“We must also protect the health and safety of volunteers. We therefore seek the patience and understanding of all interested parties to work through the taskforce to meet specific needs.”

Counselling sessions for workers

The taskforce has worked extensively with the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC), tapping its 5,000-odd foreign worker ambassadors to disseminate important information to foreign workers and relaying feedback from the ground for the taskforce to act on.

MWC has also been providing foreign workers with essentials such as reusable masks, sanitisers and bar soaps.

The taskforce has also embarked on an initiative with HealthServe to provide free virtual counselling sessions by 69 volunteers comprising counsellors, psychiatrists, social workers and interpreters.

Trial sessions have been ongoing at Westlite Toh Guan Dormitory, and 16 training sessions with 44 workers have been conducted to date. There are plans to roll the service out to more dormitories progressively.

“The taskforce thanks its partner NGOs for their tireless efforts. Our shared mission is to ensure the well-being of the workers. To do so effectively, we urge all interested parties to work through the Taskforce in an orderly and coordinated manner,” MOM said in the media release.

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