Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach Celebrates Hari Raya Puasa with Guest Workers Amidst Strict COVID-19 Restrictions
On 13 May 2021, the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—distributed festive meals and gifts, such as lungis (a type of sarong) to about 2,600 guest workers from 30 factory-converted dormitories (FCDs) in celebration of Hari Raya Puasa.
This distribution was made possible in partnership with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), amidst strict regulations in response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the guest worker population. The way in which this festive distribution was done compared to others done by AGWO in the past is markedly different, featuring contactless drop-offs of food and gifts by our partners and volunteers, and timely reporting to MOM of the details of each drop-off to ensure that the required permits are granted before the drop-off can proceed.
In the lead-up to Hari Raya Puasa, AGWO also worked with its partners to deliver festive meals and gifts to 14 FCDs to bring some festive cheer to workers who are still mostly confined to their dormitories except for when they leave for work.
At one of the FCDs on 13 May 2021, AGWO partnered MUIS to arrange for a special meeting with Deputy Mufti, MUIS, Ustaz Dr Mohammad Hannan Hassan. Deputy Mufti thanked the guest workers for standing strong and united with fellow Singaporeans in the face of the pandemic. He also assured them that they are not alone in this journey, and that Singaporeans will continue to support them and treat them respectfully as our guests. Deputy Mufti then prayed for their wellbeing, safety and health, and that they remain strong and steadfast. 100 sets of festive meals and lungis were given out to the residents of the dormitory.
President of HIA, Rev Ezekiel Tan said, “We are glad to be able to partner MOM to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa with our guest worker brothers. Many are homesick and also miss gathering with their friends in Singapore owing to the pandemic measures that have been in place for more than a year. We hope that today’s gesture of care towards them brings them some much-needed cheer amidst the gloom.”
Hope Initiative Alliance and SowCare Launch First-Ever Interfaith Charity Initiative for the Youth
On 3 April 2021, more than 30 representatives from various civil groups, social service organisations and the public sector came together to launch SowCare Together, a youth interfaith initiative that aims to bring young people together to do good. It is the first-ever interfaith charity initiative for youths organised by Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) and co-organised by SowCare. This initiative is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), the Ministry of Manpower, the Ministry of Social and Family Development, and also in collaboration with the Inter-religious Organisation, Singapore, Inter-racial and Religious Confidence Circles and the Singapore Kindness Movement, among other organisations.
Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, launched the SowCare Together initiative with representatives from the various partnering organisations.
The story of SowCare Together started with MCCY’s Mission:Unite Hackathon organised in December 2020. A team from SowCare had the opportunity to join the hackathon, which brought together people of all ages to come up with ideas to build social cohesion and harmony. The SowCare Together team showcased their solutions in front of the panel of judges and proposed an initiative that encouraged more partners and volunteers to join hands in doing good, and at the same time foster mutual respect and positive attitudes between religious communities. The SowCare Together team eventually emerged as one of the top ten finalists out of 41 teams and received a grant of up to SGD$20,000 under MCCY’s Harmony Fund on 5 December 2020, to implement its plans for bringing people of different religions together to do good.
As part of the initiative, volunteers will be recruited to attend a talk about a religion different from their own, and then get together with other volunteers of different faiths to plan and execute a charity project for beneficiaries such as the homeless, guest workers, ex-offenders, youth-at-risk and the marginalised. The initiative aims to engage around 300 volunteers consisting of youth aged 15 and above. From April to June this year, the volunteers will plan and execute relevant activities to meet the needs of beneficiaries from our partnering charities, such as Care Corner Singapore and New Hope Community Services.
Speaking about the relevance of such an initiative in today’s climate, President of HIA, Rev. Ezekiel Tan, said, “In a multi-racial, multi-religious society like Singapore, understanding the basis of different faiths will go a long way to help us live in harmony. With recent incidents of self-radicalised youths planning attacks on places of worship, there is increasingly a need to foster religious harmony, especially amongst our young people. Through SowCare Together, we hope to channel the passion and energy of the youth towards good works and interfaith engagement, all while improving the lives of underprivileged communities in Singapore.”
Members of the public who would like to find out more or register as a volunteer can do so at https://www.sowcaretogether.sg.
AGWO Guest Worker Ambassador Appreciation Night
On 14 March 2021, the Hope Initiative Alliance and Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) team gathered with about 80 AGWO Guest Worker Ambassadors at the Tuas South Recreation Centre to honour them for their role in taking care of their fellow guest workers, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were games, a recorded song performance by guest worker Awlad, and a special meal served to appreciate the efforts of our guest worker ambassadors. The Guest Worker Ambassadors also received certificates of appreciation and customised badges for them to wear when on duty.
We also presented awards to three Guest Worker Ambassadors for being exceptional in their leadership and care for other guest workers - Rubel Bepari, Mathiyalagan Annalakshmi Ranjithkumar and Jayaraman Thirunavukkarasu.
We would like to once again convey our heartfelt thanks to all the Guest Worker Ambassadors for partnering with us to ensure that their fellow guest workers are well taken care of, no matter what the needs or challenges may be.
HIA Appreciation Event
On 27 January 2021, Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) and the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance—held an Appreciation Event to thank our partners, donors and volunteers. About 50 partners, donors and volunteers attended the event, while many others joined us online via Zoom and Facebook Live.
The appreciation ceremony was organised to express our deep gratitude to HIA’s key partners, donors, and volunteers, who have played a vital role in all of our efforts to provide holistic care for the vulnerable communities, especially the guest workers who have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 situation during the circuit breaker in 2020.
Because of their generous contributions and effort, we were able to distribute a total of 1,027,505 care meals and more than 1.2 million essential items, to more than 21,000 guest workers in about 300 dormitories. We definitely would not have achieved that milestone without their great support.
The Guest of Honour, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Manpower, handed out tokens of appreciation consisting of certificates and plaques to our partners, donors and volunteers. In his speech, Mr Mohamad lauded the good work done by HIA and its team of volunteers and partners, and stressed the importance of religious harmony, which HIA actively promotes.
Three videos were especially collated and produced, recounting HIA’s achievements and milestones in the past two years, as well as short testimonies and remarks by various partners. You can view them below:
In his thank you speech, President of HIA, Rev Ezekiel Tan said, “On behalf of our tens of thousands of beneficiaries, I would like to convey our most heartfelt thanks to every partner, donor and volunteer present here tonight, as well as those watching online. Thank you for all your giving and sacrifices. We truly value every dollar donated, every minute spent and every ounce of energy devoted to improving the lives of the less fortunate. Without you, HIA would not have been able to accomplish all that we have done in 2020. As the Holy Book says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. I pray you would surely receive greater blessings in the coming years. We look forward to many more opportunities to partner with you as we join hands to uplift the lives of the needy and destitute in the year ahead and many years down the road.”
We would like to thank every partner, donor and volunteer who has given so generously of their time, resources and energy; your contributions have been invaluable. If you are looking to donate, partner or volunteer with us, head over to https://www.hia.sg/support-us.
Here’s a look at what Mr Zaqy Mohamad had to say about the Appreciation Event:
International Migrant Workers Day
17 December 2020
Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach Celebrates International Migrants’ Day and Christmas with Guest Workers
On 17 December 2020, the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—kicked off more than a week of International Migrants Day and Christmas celebrations for about 10,000 guest workers from 75 factory-converted dormitories (FCDs) nationwide. As the year draws to a close, HIA has partnered with the Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), and other core partners such as JTC Corporation (JTC), Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore (IRO), and Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) to bring festive joy to our guest-worker brothers and honour their contributions to society. The celebrations will span about nine days starting from the eve of International Migrants Day, on 17 December 2020, to just after Christmas Day, on 26 December 2020.
To mark the start and end of the celebrations, a special meal will be distributed to selected FCDs on 17 and 26 December. Over 1,000 guest workers will be receiving a hearty meal along with goodie bags on these two days. On 17 December 2020—the eve of International Migrants Day—AGWO launched the nine-day long celebration with an event at one of the FCDs. We distributed meals and goodie bags to over 600 guest workers residing there. Mr Tung Yui Fai, Chief of ACE Group, attended the event representing ACE Group as one of our key partners.
From 17 to 26 December 2020, our volunteers and partners will be distributing festive snacks and gifts, such as cupcakes, fruits, and customised water bottles to 75 FCDs. Small-scale Christmas celebrations will also be held in some of the FCDs and other locations to spread the festive cheer. Volunteers will be decorating 14 FCDs with Christmas ornaments to bring out the joy of Christmas. During the week, our partners will also be bringing some guest workers out to the parks for a meal and some games as part of the celebrations. This falls under the Project Sunshine initiative, which is a series of organised outings in partnership with MOM and NParks, for guest workers to enjoy some leisure time outdoors and improve their mental well-being.
On 19 and 20 December 2020, in celebration of International Migrants Day, AGWO is also working closely with MOM and JTC to set up booths at the Tuas South Recreation Centre for the guest workers when they visit. These booths include one that features a professional photographer who will be taking free profile pictures that guest workers can use for their social media networks, and a thrift stall selling electronics, clothing and footwear at highly discounted rates. There will also be activities such as cricket bowling and carrom competitions.
All guest workers participating in the slate of activities during the nine-day period can enter a nationwide lucky draw, which will feature prizes worth $3,000 in total.
President of HIA, Rev Ezekiel Tan said, “We have planned these events to honour the contributions of our guest workers and bring them some cheer in the midst of a rather gloomy time with the COVID-19 pandemic still looming large. Guest workers have played a key role in building our nation so it is only right that we take the opportunity to celebrate them and all the hard work they have put in every single day.”
We would like to thank our donors, partners and volunteers for giving their time and resources to make these celebrations with the guest workers possible. We wish that our guest workers will have a meaningful time of celebrations, and be able to feel appreciated and welcome in Singapore.
14 November 2020
The Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach Celebrates Deepavali with 8,000 Guest Workers through Distribution of Festive Meals
On 14 November 2020, the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—distributed festive meals to about 8,000 guest workers from more than 70 factory-converted dormitories (FCDs) in celebration of Deepavali.
With Deepavali being a festive occasion celebrated in many South Asian countries, guest workers may experience homesickness being away from their families during such a festive period. This meal distribution exercise thus aims to care for the guest workers in our nation and make them feel like Singapore is their home away from home. This initiative is a continuation of AGWO’s efforts to care for the guest workers after the provision of over one million Care Meals and 1.2 million essential items to more than 21,000 guest workers from 300 dormitories from April to July this year. AGWO also launched Project Sunshine in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower, a series of organised outdoor activities to provide guest workers with an avenue for recreation and to improve their mental wellbeing. For all these efforts, HIA won the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award 2020 in the Organisations of Good category.
AGWO mobilised more than 100 volunteer drivers who helped to deliver the food to the various FCDs across the island. The festive meal comprised chicken biryani, kesari (a type of Indian sweet), muruku, other Indian sweets and drinks. 8,000 laddus, another type of Indian sweet, also accompanied the festive meal.
AGWO was glad to partner the Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore (IRO), the Hindu Endowments Board, the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCC) from the Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency (GRC), NGO Free Food for All and TSL Group in this initiative.
Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth & Trade and Industry, Mr Alvin Tan, also joined the food distribution exercise on 14 November. He helped out at the food collection point and visited one of the FCDs to hand out the festive meals to the guest workers.
Highlighting the importance of partnerships between inter-religious NGOs and the public sector, President of HIA, Rev. Ezekiel Tan, said, “We are glad to bring together NGOs and MOM to celebrate Deepavali with the guest workers. In a multi-racial and multi-religious society like Singapore, it is crucial for NGOs of different faiths to work together to amplify the impact on lives of the beneficiaries, such as our guest worker community. We hope to bring some cheer and semblance of home to our guest worker brothers in these uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Inter-Religious Organisation President, Mr Tan Thiam Lye, said, “I am heartened by the outpouring of warmth and generous giving that has enabled us to celebrate Deepavali with the guest workers in this way. IRO is pleased to partner HIA in this worthwhile initiative and look forward to more opportunities to work together.”
We would like to thank our donors, partners and volunteers for giving their time and resources to make this Deepavali celebration with the guest workers possible.
Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group of the Ministry of Manpower
Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore
Hindu Endowments Board
Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles from the Nee Soon GRC
Free Food for All
Number of volunteers: more than 100
MOM Appreciation Meeting
23 October 2020
HIA-AGWO is humbled to have been part of a virtual appreciation event by the Ministry of Manpower on 21 October. Minister for Manpower, Mrs Josephine Teo; Second Minister for Manpower and Trade and Industry, Mr Tan See Leng and Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence, Mr Zaqy Mohamad took the opportunity to thank MOM’s NGO partners, such as AGWO—a movement of HIA—who have worked with them to help guest workers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are glad to have worked closely with MOM to distribute more than 1 million Care Meals and 1.2 million essential supplies (hygiene products, medical supplies and other food items), as well as prayer mats during the Circuit Breaker period. We are also working with MOM on Project Sunshine, a series of organised outings to improve the holistic well-being of guest workers. We will continue to complement government efforts and partner agencies such as MOM to serve the guest workers in our midst.
Many thanks also go out to our donors, partners and volunteers, without whom we would not have been able to make such an impact. Head to https://www.hia.sg/contact to find out how you can partner with us today!
HIA Wins the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award 2020
16 October 2020
Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) is humbled and honoured to have received two nominations for the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) — one each in the Organisation of Good and Leader of Good categories for HIA’s contributions to society amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Organised annually by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the PVPA is the pinnacle award and platform to recognise individuals and groups that have achieved excellence in giving.
On 16 October 2020, HIA won the Organisation of Good Award, which its President Rev Ezekiel Tan received on behalf of HIA. Rev Samuel Gift Stephen, Lead Director of the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach, received a special commendation in the Leader of Good category.
In the face of the greatest challenge of our generation, HIA is privileged to serve with fellow Singaporeans to provide care and assistance for the vulnerable and marginalised communities. Since the commencement of the circuit breaker in April till July, we worked with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Migrant Workers’ Centre to distribute 1,027,505 Care Meals and more than 1.2 million essential items (hygiene packs, medical supplies and other food items) to over 21,000 guest workers living in 300 dormitories. Supporting the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), we have also rendered our assistance to a few hundred homeless individuals who were most affected by the pandemic through the Safe Sound Sleeping Places (S3P) initiative and the Innkeeper’s Project.
In his thank you speech, Rev Ezekiel Tan, President of HIA thanked Madam President Halimah Yacob and NVPC for this kind affirmation, that our collective efforts have made an impact. He also took the opportunity to thank our partners, donors and volunteers for their invaluable contribution to the various causes we champion. HIA is also appreciative of unsung heroes, whose names are not mentioned but have played a critical role in our endeavour to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable communities. Noting that these uncertain times have made the needs of the underprivileged in society even more pronounced, Rev Tan said, “Providing care to the needy is a privilege and has also transformed our own lives. May I invite more to join us in doing good, to shine the light of hope in this gloomy season”.
Looking ahead, we are inspired to do more. HIA will continue to give our best as an aggregator of assistance and services for the needy, reaching out especially to the guest worker and homeless communities through our partnership with agencies such as the MOM, MSF and NVPC in Project Sunshine and the Ending Homelessness Together Coalition (EHTC). Project Sunshine aims to improve the holistic wellbeing of guest workers through a series of organised outdoor activities that provide guest workers with an avenue for recreation and leisure. The homeless community will also remain a key beneficiary of our efforts through EHTC as we partner MSF, SowCare and New Hope Community Services in their respective programmes that provide temporary shelter for the rough sleepers.
We would like to invite you to partner with us and make a difference in the lives of many. Click the button below to find out how you can donate, partner or volunteer with us!
Watch this video to hear from the HIA President as he accepts the Award on behalf of HIA.
About Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)
HIA is an inter-racial, interreligious and intercultural charity organisation that aims to provide holistic care for the vulnerable and marginalised communities. As a comprehensive aggregator of assistance and services for the needy, we partner with more than 100 organisations, including government agencies, social service organisations, civil groups, corporations and volunteers.
About the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards
The President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards is the pinnacle award and platform to recognise individuals and groups that have achieved excellence in giving. These awards represent the highest honour for giving to the community and are conferred by the President of the Republic of Singapore. It is organised annually by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), who is the steward of the City of Good vision, with support from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).
The Organisation of Good Awards recognise organisations (corporates, non-profit organisations and public institutions) who have had exemplary pandemic-specific responses and are active contributors to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
The Leader of Good Awards recognise Individuals who are exceptional multiplier leaders, who have devoted their time, talent, treasure and/or voice to create a positive impact in society and galvanised others to do good, thereby multiplying their impact to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
The People of Good Awards recognise individuals who are exceptional relational givers and have voluntarily devoted their time, talent, treasure and/or voice to create a positive impact in society during the COVID-19 pandemic period. These individuals should have demonstrated that they went above and beyond their usual daily routine.
Dream Dreams Again: Reaching and Caring for the Guest Workers
As COVID-19 affects all aspects of our lives, it also impacts and continues to determine the life courses of many guest workers in Singapore, especially those who are living in factory-converted dormitories (FCDs).
Launched on Good Friday, 10 April, by the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach - a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance - the Care Meals Distribution Project evolved to last three months, providing a total of more than 1 million Care Meals for hundreds of thousands of guest workers in more than 300 FCDs.
Beyond Phases 1 and 2, the initiative is also rolling out a series of educational programmes. The goal is to enable guest workers to not give up on their dreams, through up-skilling and educational initiatives, which will give them a shot at a better life. Additionally, a series of recreational activities will be launched from sports and community events to professional services. These programmes include:
Wellness Services (Medical Assistance, Legal Advice and Health Services)
in partnership with government agencies and partners, such as SATA CommHealth, the Singapore Medical Association, HealthServe, and the Singapore Pastoral Institute. Guest workers will thus be able to access essential services at heavily-subsidised costs.
Entertainment Avenues such as roadshows, talent competitions, as well as mobile thrift stores and flea markets. The aim is to alleviate their feelings of homesickness and bring smiles to their faces.
Sports Initiatives such as football, cricket, basketball, badminton, and table tennis competitions, as well as introducing them to new forms of exercise, such as CrossFit. Mini-olympics will also be organised with government agencies, such as the Singapore Sports Council and the Singapore Masters Athletics.
To organise spoken English classes (Talk2Walk), financial management seminars (Money Talks), business management courses, computer literacy classes, career progression advice services, media programmes, and life skill courses - in partnership with SDI Academy, IPP Consulting, as well as trainers who have licenses to teach Microsoft and Adobe Photoshop skills.
To promote social integration, in partnership with the Inter-Religious Organisation (Singapore) and iFriend - a platform to connect Singaporeans with guest workers - facilitating the bridging of cultures through food exchanges and more.
For more information on the aforementioned initiatives and ways to support and/or avail services and assistance, visit agwo.sg.