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Migrant Awareness Week

Contributed by Students for Migrants 2014

Inspired by their previous experiences volunteering at NGOs dedicated to migrant worker issues, students saw a need for a Migrant Workers Awareness Week at the NUS Law Faculty. From doing up posters featuring the Dean to taking a tour of Little India, the students came up with a slew of activities that took place from 3-7 March to provide an insight into this overlooked demographic.

Sponsored by Rajah & Tann LLP, the week began with a lively panel and lunch conversation called “Migrant Workers: The Problems & Solutions”. The audience--featuring students, staff, pro bono attorneys and migrant workers themselves--was as diverse as the panel. Guests even got a chance to mingle with the workers and advocated to better understand the plight of low-income migrants in Singapore.

The following day at the Summit, student organisers used “UNLOCK” (created by partner EmancipAsia using a new technology platform accessible via smart phone) to test their peers’ knowledge about modern-day trafficking. One provocative question asked students whether they had ever had, or currently have, any trafficked persons working for them. Anyone who answered in the negative received the response that most of us rely on industries where human trafficking is prevalent, such as the garment industry, the chocolate industry, the mobile phone production industry, etc.

On the third day, together with student volunteers from NUS Law, FASS and Yale-NUS, the organising team produced a re-enactment called “In Transit”, in which audience members literally followed a Bangladeshi construction worker (played by a student) as he journeyed through the employment migration process—starting in Bangladesh, then on to Singapore, and then back again. Along the way, participants got to hear first-hand from migrant workers and case workers about the realities on the ground.

Capping off the week was a walk around Little India, guided by Debbie Fordyce of TWC2, with the help of two injured construction workers. The thirty-plus participants were privileged to hear the workers share their insights and experiences over the walk and dinner afterward.

The students who organised Migrant Workers Awareness Week hope that the week’s events have shed light on some of the challenges faced by low-income foreign workers. We see this week as just one small step towards improving the overall welfare of the migrant worker community in Singapore, and we will work hard to make sure that the discussions and collaborations that have just begun will continue.





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