I encountered two extremes of emotion yesterday. One, a case of racism, and the other a fundraising initiative.
I had to make a delivery run because one of our online retailers desperately needed their stocks replenished. Armed with my face mask, hand sanitisers (yes, two—a spray and wet wipes) and the bags of books, I sallied forth alone, cocooned in our car. Arriving at the location, I was politely informed by Security Guard 1 (SG1) that I would no longer be allowed entry into the basement carpark and had to park at an open area by the driveway. Thrown off my stride a little, but thankful not to have to lug the books from a more distant location, I proceeded to obey. So, here I am now, approaching Security Guard 2 (SG2) to have my temperature taken and to fill in my particulars. Before I even took hold of the pen, she launched into a tirade about the uselessness of people who were the same race as SG1. No sense, telling me to park by the driveway when a bus would need to park there soon. SG2 continued to spew various racist generalisations to the point where even non-confrontational me had to say something. After I pointed out that it was grossly unfair to tar everyone with the same brush, much less someone who had actually tried to be helpful (from my perspective), she lamely said, “Other people also say, mah.” By which time SG1 had come over to help point me in the right direction to get to my destination. Such a nice helpful man.
Later in the day, I chanced on an Instagram post by one of our authors. Her five-year-old daughter, Mya, who had been pained by the increasing numbers of her “Uncles” who were falling victim to Covid-19, had decided that she would do something to help the migrant workers in Singapore. She is going to sell potted plants and contribute the money towards the charity of her choice, MigrantxMe.
Despair and hope. Sounds like a refrain for many of our lives. But I think for the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Singapore, the predominant emotion right now is despair and fear. These are the very people who helped (and are still helping) to build modern Singapore. Yet they have remained largely out of sight, in the shadowy confines of their dormitories when their work day is done. Every so often, one or the other of the local NGOs and VWOs would highlight the plight of these migrant workers. I confess, in the distant past, to occasionally having been irked by the strident tones of some. But I have since learned precious lessons through the selfless actions of people I know, and from having been involved in a small way with organisations like HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), Healthserve and MigrantxMe, a greater sense of social justice has grown. How did we shut our eyes and our hearts to the injustices being perpetrated against these fellow brothers, people also created in the image of Father God? Sadly, they are reaping the seeds we have sown. Racial stereotypes stick, as my encounter with the security guards showed. How easily we forget God’s character in Deuteronomy 10:17–18,
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. (NIV)
If we call ourselves followers of this God, surely with the dawning of His kingdom here on earth and while we wait for Christ’s return to make all things new, we should be His hands and feet in this broken world. My neighbor Olivia was. In the noughties she was already regularly buying packets of chicken rice and drinks for the workers in our estate. Our friend Wei Leong started Healthserve to meet the healthcare needs of those who fell between the cracks of officialdom. Isabel started MigrantxMe because she experienced firsthand what a migrant worker goes through when she did an internship in the hospitality industry overseas. Unlike other NGOs, Isabel chose the route of educating the younger ones in our population. Our friend Abraham who started Homeless Hearts to care for those sleeping rough has also been a pathfinder. Some of the others doing vital work in the foreign worker space include It’s Raining Coats and TWC2 (Transient Workers Count Too).
I’m thankful that there is Hope. Because after reading about the 680 foreign workers infected by Covid-19 yesterday alone, my heart bled. But let’s sow new seeds, and work towards a safer and healthier tomorrow. It was really Godly prescience that our author Ames Chen would choose to write a book on our foreign workforce and highlight their plight (Uncles at Work). And her heart for the less fortunate has rubbed off on her children. When she and her husband were chatting about the foreign workers, little Mya overheard and immediately emptied out her piggy bank. She wanted to donate her snack fund to her beloved “Uncles”.
So, TODAY, if you want to help a little young lady to raise funds for her “Uncles”, please visit Ameschen on Instagram or Amy Tan on Facebook and see the many different ways that you can participate. I had often wondered why her daughter’s handle on Instagram is “Humblet”. Ames said it’s because parenting her has been a very humbling experience.
In Isaiah’s prophecy for a future perfect world, we are told:
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them. (Isaiah 11:6 NIV)
Well, another little child is showing us the way for now. Let’s do what we can. We must.