CJC students distributing packages of food and toiletries to migrant workers at their dormitories in Yishun.CJC students distributing packages of food and toiletries to migrant workers at their dormitories in Yishun.

Catholic Junior College students packed 1,180 food-and-toiletries parcels for migrant construction workers recently.

The project, coordinated by Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI), saw 33 students packing these items on March 16, and distributing them two days later.

Each package consisted of a tin of sardines, a tin of curry chicken, two bars of soap, a tube of toothpaste, a packet of rice, instant noodles and a bottle of shampoo.

On March 16, the students unpacked the cartons of provisions and then put them into plastic bags which were then sealed in large containers for easy transportation to the workers’ quarters in Yishun.

“It was tiring but it’s a chance to help the underprivileged.There’s meaning to what I do and I don’t mind spending some time and effort,” said student Nguyen Huy Anh.

His classmate Petrina Chia added, “It’s meaningful as in daily life you don’t get to help them.”

On March 18, the students went to the workers’ quarters in Yishun to personally hand out the packages to them. In some cases they helped to carry the parcels up to the top level on the third floor.

Migrant workers Selvaraja Arumungam from India and Khan Nasir from Bangladesh said “happy” and “thank you” as they smiled and received the packages.

After the distribution, the students had an opportunity to see the workers’ living conditions.

Student Carlene Hilos said, “It was eye opening. I didn’t expect what I saw. They live in simple conditions. They looked happy and jubilant to receive the parcels.”

Another student Loh Pui Ying added, “It was a meaningful experience for us, we could see how they lived. Most Singaporeans don’t see these conditions.”

The students were also briefed by the camp manager, Mr Jimmy Yeo, of the set up of the workers’ quarters, and the rules and regulations here.

Teacher-in-charge Charlene Lin said, “I think it’s an invaluable experience as not many would come into contact with these workers on their own. When it comes to community service, most students will think of working with children or the elderly but few will think of migrant workers.”

The project, dubbed the Bread Basket project by ACMI, came about because of a chance encounter between the school principal, Ms Christine Kong, and ACMI Senior Executive Officer Elizabeth Tan.

This is the first of three such projects with the college this year.

A special function has also been scheduled in August in which the workers will be brought to the school for lunch and enjoy some fun activities. n

CJC students distributing packages of food and toiletries to migrant workers at their dormitories in Yishun.

By Don Gurugay

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