The Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) is an initiative of the Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA), in partnership with various Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), civil organisations, corporations, professional bodies, guest worker dormitories, and government agencies.

 

It is the aim of the AGWO to provide guest workers in Singapore with holistic care in a sustainable manner. The AGWO also hopes to establish a platform for collaborations, partnerships, and the sharing of resources and services, which will benefit guest workers residing in Singapore.

 

To ensure maximum efficiency in sharing resources, the AGWO offers both direct and indirect opportunities of involvement for partners—as administrators of services, and facilitators in providing assistance to guest workers, respectively.

 

About Guest Workers and Their Struggles

Guest workers are a transient people group, who form nearly one-third of Singapore’s working population. They play a significant role in Singapore’s economic development through building our infrastructure, and contributing to industries where there is a labour shortage. Through their nation-building efforts, they have become interwoven into the social fabric of Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.

 

Yet, these blue-collar guest workers who have left their homes and families in search of opportunities may experience financial and emotional difficulties—such as untenable living conditions, excessive working hours, inadequate rest, and unfair wages. They are also an emotionally vulnerable community, faced with feelings of homesickness that are amplified by the struggles of being in a new and unfamiliar society.

The Core Objectives

The initiative was formed with three core objectives:

 

1.    To reach out to all guest workers in Singapore—to care for them and cater to their essential needs, while also adopting a spirit of hospitality for a welcoming environment that is free of discrimination and prejudice.  

 

2.    To be a holistic one-stop hub of assistance and services for guest workers in Singapore—serving as a centre of health care services, legal assistance, social integration training, with opportunities for upskilling through computer literacy and language acquisition classes.

 

3.    To be a multi-religious, multiracial and multi-faceted platform of support for guest workers in Singapore—working collaboratively with government bodies, private corporations, civil organisations, and the public.

As part of our efforts to establish partnerships with various organisations for the pooling of resources to meet the needs of the guest worker community in Singapore, the President of Hope Initiative Alliance, Mr Ezekiel Tan, and Chairman of the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach, Mr Samuel Gift Stephen, met with Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Assistant Director-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and Chairman of the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) on 20 September. The meeting was to discuss future opportunities for collaboration between NTUC MWC and AGWO.

Upcoming AGWO Events

On 31 May 2019, the Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) signed a memorandum of agreement (MoU) with the pioneering partners of the AGWO—this officiates the sharing of resources and collaboration of various joint initiatives to seek the betterment of guest workers in Singapore.

 

Immediate preliminary events to be anticipated include:

 

●     The AGWO Cricket Cup on 28 October 2019—a cricket tournament to provide guest workers with an avenue for leisure and enjoyment.

●     A guest workers exhibition from 20 to 29 September 2019, at Far East Plaza—featuring interactive demonstrations that will showcase guest workers’ daily work, with opportunities for the public to experience their work.

●     An inaugural ‘Feast of Appreciation’ on 13 October 2019, at the Fullerton Hotel—a feast to appreciate guest workers, with dormitory owners, government officials and AGWO partners. The event will also launch the series of feasts in the last quarter of 2019 throughout Singapore, culminating with the Guest Workers Appreciation Day on 18 December 2019.

The pioneering phase of the AGWO will initially focus on South Asian guest workers, such as Bangladeshis, Indians and Sri Lankans. Through a five-year plan, the AGWO aims to expand to reach one million guest workers of various ethnic backgrounds by 2024.

A Collective Singaporean Effort to Support Guest Workers

The AGWO earnestly invites future partnerships with both organisations and individuals for its subsequent phases, and is hopeful for a collective nationwide movement that will allow Singapore to better support and appreciate our guest workers.

 

With stronger social structures in place and more avenues to provide assistance, Singapore can be an adoptive home that both protects and welcomes its guest workers—in a home free of discrimination, prejudice and mistreatment—paving the way for a more inclusive and integrated community.

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