Parishioners distributing drinks to migrant workers at their dormitory premises in Yishun.Parishioners distributing drinks to migrant workers at their dormitory premises in Yishun.

Migrant workers living in a dormitory a few kilometres away from the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea received food and toiletries recently, thanks to a parish Lenten project.

About 100 parishioners handed plastic box containers containing these items to some 650 migrant workers living in the Kienta Dormitory at Yishun Avenue 6 on April 6.

The workers were given vouchers to exchange for the packages as well as for snacks and drinks. During the event, the workers also enjoyed themselves as they sang and danced.

Mr Bian Nian Xi, a migrant worker from China, told CatholicNews that he was “extremely grateful” for the gifts, saying they would be useful to him.

The parish’s Neighbourhood Christian Communities (NCCs) partnered the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI) for this project, called L.O.V.E (Lenten Outreach Visible Evangelisation).

It was to “recognise in small ways [migrants’] contribution” to Singapore, said Mr Michael Lewis, a project coordinator.

The 650 plastic containers contained basic food items such as rice, oil, Milo, tea, sugar, salt, sardines and biscuits together with toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, detergent, towels, an international calling card and a printed thank-you note written and signed by parish priest Fr John Joseph Fenelon.

More than 200 parishioners gathered to pack the gifts on April 4.

During Lent, parishioners were encouraged to donate basic food items and toiletries stipulated by the project committee or provide a cash donation for the purchase of the items.

Paper “leaves” were given to parishioners upon the receipt of donations. These “leaves”, which have the names of the donor families written on them, were then hung on the branches of a special tree “as a symbolic gesture of our growing in love and spirit through generosity and kindness”, Mr Lewis said.

The tree is on display at the church’s entrance until Pentecost.

The organisers hope the project would help children learn “about being kind and charitable to the less fortunate” and the parish community to share in “almsgiving and charitable actions”, Mr Lewis said.

He said the organisers were “very touched by the generosity and enthusiasm” of the parishioners.

Parishioner Monica Yeo, who donated some money, said, “Everyone who is able to extend a helping hand and has the means should help the less privileged in Singapore, regardless of whether the people who need help are local or not.”

Thirteen-year-old Alwin Moo, who helped in the packing of the gifts, said he wanted to “give to the community”. The experience helps to “build a sense of community where everyone comes together to help out”, he added.

Eight-year-old Anselm Nair, who, together with some of the other parishioners, was taken a brief tour of the dormitory, said he learnt how the migrant workers lived.

In a statement to CatholicNews, ACMI executive director Jeremy Khoo said his organisation “is very pleased to collaborate” with the parish and hopes that “more parishes adopt their Christ-like example of hospitality to the million over migrants working and living in Singapore”. Additional reporting and photos: MARTIN SEE

By Darren Boon
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