Volunteers working together to collate the food packets at the WestLite Dormitory lobby.Volunteers working together to collate the food packets at the WestLite Dormitory lobby.

While Singapore celebrated the nation’s 50th anniversary on Jubilee Weekend, a group of Catholics came together to commemorate the occasion with the migrant community in Singapore.

On Aug 8, 300 Catholics visited the WestLite Dormitory at Mandai to bring food packets to some 5,300 resident migrant workers.  

The packets comprised essential items such as rice, noodles, sugar, sweeteners, energy drinks, toothpaste, soap and tea powder.

Mr Aung Min Tun, a shipyard supervisor from Myanmar, has been working in Singapore for eight years now and this is the first time he’s seen volunteers bring the special occasion right to their dormitory. “I’m very happy to see so many people come over just to pack and give us these food baskets,” he shared.

For Mr A Maguraj, a lift maintenance worker from India who has been here since 2009, he was “thrilled to receive this special pack” and added that it made him “especially happy to see everybody looking so happy as the nation celebrates her 50th birthday”.
 
A volunteer delivering food packets to a migrant worker in his dormitory.A volunteer delivering food packets to a migrant worker in his dormitory.Organised by the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) and the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrant and Itinerant People (ACMI), the Food Basket Project brought together Vincentians, youth ministry members and parishioners from six churches (Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, St Vincent de Paul, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St Francis Xavier, St Mary Of The Angels and St Ignatius)  

“This is part of SSVP’s efforts to celebrate the Catholic Joy SG50  initiative across the island.

“We are organising a series of food projects with various parishes to provide thousands of meals to those living among us who are less fortunate.” said Mr Paul Foo, president of SSVP National Council.

While many groups are well-organised with an established support network, there are some that are relatively on their own especially the newly arrived migrants.

It is for them that ACMI and SSVP are organising this food basket project.

“On the occasion of SG50, we should also recognise the contributions of the migrant workers to Singapore’s development.

“They have sacrificed much and we should thank them. This is also an opportunity for us to create awareness of challenges faced by migrant workers and to reach out to let them know that they can approach us for help should they encounter any difficulties or problems,” said Mr Timothy Karl, Executive Director of ACMI Singapore.

Another positive outcome of the food project is the coming together of various churches and ministries, including the youth.
 
Many of the youth volunteered to be distributors and were excited to personally present the food baskets to the migrant workers.

A number of them took this time to chat with some of these workers and learn about their stories.

For many of them, this experience was a unique one. Said 21-year-old Alexandra Hofbauer,  This is my first time helping out in such an event and it’s not what I expected at all... It’s really heartwarming to see so many people come together to volunteer their time on a Saturday.”

Ms Margaret Wong, one of the leaders of the Food Basket project said, “This is the first time such an activity is being carried out on a large scale. It’s really a mammoth task to prepare and distribute 5,300 food packets in a single day, and we need to work out every single detail including receiving and packing the items, bringing the food packs to the migrant workers and interacting with them.

“I’m very inspired to work among a group of like-minded Catholics.  We may come from different parishes and ministries, but we are united in our efforts to live out our faith and passion to do our part to celebrate SG50 through this project.”

Earlier in June, teen confirmants and Vincentians from the Church of Christ the King visited Chip Ong Seng Dormitory at Tampines Road to distribute food baskets to 650 migrant worker residents.  More food basket projects will be planned later in the year with other parishes.

For more information, please check with your local SSVP conference. 

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