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AGWO Celebrates Pongal Festival with the Guest Workers at Kranji Recreation Centre

Over 500 guest workers from 70 dormitories came together at Kranji Recreation Centre on Sunday, 16 January from 2-9pm, celebrating the festivities of Pongal Festival, which is widely celebrated by the Tamils as thanksgiving for their bountiful harvest.

 

This initiative was organised by the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—together with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), JTC Corporation, Project Dorm, Free Food For All, Life Centre Community Services, Dorm Mums and other partners. 

 

The festivities featured various activities including terrarium workshop, tug-of-war and carrom competitions and lucky draws, carnival game stalls that were set up for the guest workers to enjoy, and distribution of Pongal goodie bags, Pongal rice and sugarcane. A truck full of biryani and masala teas were also brought to the recreation centre to be given out to thousands of guest workers. 

 

The festival celebrations also sought to engage with the guest workers and improve their well-being and mental wellness through many more carnival games, activities and educational programmes that will be organised every week at Kranji and Tuas Recreation Centre.

 

The President of HIA, Rev Ezekiel Tan, shared, “The activities are a way to share the joy and festivities of Pongal with the guest workers, as part of our thanksgiving to them for their labour for our nation and to harvest fruitfulness to begin the year 2022. This is also our way to encourage them to look forward to a better year ahead.”

AGWO Brought Christmas Cheer to More than 20,000 Guest Workers in December

In the spirit of Christmas, The Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—and various other partners and organisations organised eight carnivals for the guest workers from 5 December 2021 to 1 January 2022 in three different places, such as Tuas South Recreation Centre, Kranji Recreation Centre and Terusan Recreation Centre.  

 

Over 8,000 guest workers attended all the carnivals and another 4,000 attended the subsequent carnivals on Christmas and New Year respectively. In total, there were 12,000 guest workers attending the entire Christmas celebrations until 1 January 2022.

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  • Grant A Wish to 300 Guest Workers

    During the festive season, it was very common for many of us to buy things for ourselves and even gifts for our loved ones. However, the guest workers may not have the privilege to buy what they want and hence, AGWO partnered with DBS Bank on the Grant A Wish programme to provide opportunities for 300 guest workers to request any items or gifts that they would like to have this Christmas. Many of them requested watches, perfumes, bags, and other items, which touched their hearts because the gifts were made personalised to them, and personal Christmas letters were also sent to their dorms.

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  • Recreation Centre Level Futsal Tournament

    In collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower, JTC Corporation and Team Nila, AGWO organised the futsal tournament which started in late November. AGWO had sponsored the trophy, as well as cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $300 respectively for each group who won the tournament. 

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  • Satellite Points for Celebrations

    More than 10 different partners of AGWO organised smaller scale events on their own to reach out to more than 2,000 guest workers in various locations during the Christmas season. Some of the activities included baking activities where the baked goodies were distributed to the guest workers for free.

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  • Distribution of Care Packs to 7,000 Guest WorkersOver the period of one month in this season, AGWO organised the distribution of Christmas festive care packs to more than 7,000 guest workers to provide them with the basic daily necessities, especially in these periods of times when the pandemic hit many in Singapore, including the guest workers and the needy communities.

  • Outings to Discover SingaporeHaving built many buildings and places in Singapore, the guest workers may not have the chance to visit them, including the tourist attractions that they had put extra efforts to build. To bring Christmas cheer for them, AGWO brought 200 guest workers to Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park in December, using the SingapoRediscovers vouchers donated by the Singaporeans. And for the very first time for the brothers, AGWO also brought another 120 guest workers to the Universal Studios of Singapore on Christmas Day, 25 December 2021.

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AGWO is grateful that through all these initiatives, they managed to reach out to over 20,000 guest workers just within one month in the whole December to spread Christmas cheer and joy. As the President of HIA, Reverend Ezekiel Tan shared, “Christmas is a great time to give back to the community and help those in need, especially the guest workers, because it is the season about giving. And in giving, we receive true Christmas joy.” 

AGWO Celebrates Pongal Festival with the Guest Workers at Kranji Recreation Centre

Over 500 guest workers from 70 dormitories came together at Kranji Recreation Centre on Sunday, 16 January from 2-9pm, celebrating the festivities of Pongal Festival, which is widely celebrated by the Tamils as thanksgiving for their bountiful harvest.

 

This initiative was organised by the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—together with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), JTC Corporation, Project Dorm, Free Food For All, Life Centre Community Services, Dorm Mums and other partners. 

 

The festivities featured various activities including terrarium workshop, tug-of-war and carrom competitions and lucky draws, carnival game stalls that were set up for the guest workers to enjoy, and distribution of Pongal goodie bags, Pongal rice and sugarcane. A truck full of biryani and masala teas were also brought to the recreation centre to be given out to thousands of guest workers. 

 

The festival celebrations also sought to engage with the guest workers and improve their well-being and mental wellness through many more carnival games, activities and educational programmes that will be organised every week at Kranji and Tuas Recreation Centre.

 

The President of HIA, Rev Ezekiel Tan, shared, “The activities are a way to share the joy and festivities of Pongal with the guest workers, as part of our thanksgiving to them for their labour for our nation and to harvest fruitfulness to begin the year 2022. This is also our way to encourage them to look forward to a better year ahead.”

The Launch of ADEO - Over 100 Organisations Join ADEO to Provide a Holistic Well-Being to the MDWs in Singapore

As the International Migrants Day (IMD) and Christmas were approaching, Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) launched a new movement to better serve the migrant domestic workers (MDWs) community in Singapore. The Alliance of Domestic Employees Outreach (ADEO) was launched on 12 December 2021.

 

Many of the MDWs had to spend this festive season separated from their families. Since the pandemic started, they have become one of the most vulnerable groups in our community. In order to provide holistic care for them, ADEO will organise various programmes in the upcoming months such as case management and counselling, health and mental wellness talks, skill developments and training, and recreational programmes such as K-pop dance classes, hair styling, and outings.

 

This newly launched movement, ADEO, is a continuation of HIA’s efforts to collaborate with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to care for the migrant workers in Singapore—after the distribution of over one million Care Meals and 1.2 million essential items to more than 21,000 guest workers from 300 dormitories in 2020. In recognition of these efforts, HIA won the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award 2020 in the Organisations of Good category. 

 

The ADEO movement is also a good testimony to the close partnership between the public, private and people sectors. Over 100 organisations, such as the Singapore Kindness Movement, Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) Singapore, Law Society Pro Bono Services and the Singapore International Chambers of Commerce have come together to support the initiative. HIA also initiated various activities for MDWs since 2019 and initially planned to hold an event for 3,000 MDWs during International Women’s Day in 2020. However, the plans were halted due to the pandemic restrictions.

 

The Minister of State for Manpower, Ms Gan Siow Huang, attended the launch of ADEO on 12 December as the Guest of Honour together with only 50 representatives of partnering agencies from the three sectors due to the safe management measures. She shared her hope that through the formation of ADEO, it will help the government to improve the outreach and support for the MDWs.

 

President of HIA, Reverend Ezekiel Tan shared, “It is our joy that as we commemorate the International Migrants’ Day to launch the new movement, ADEO, together with MOM and many other partners to provide more care and support for our migrant domestic workers, especially during these trying times to improve and uplift their physical and mental health, and emotional well-being. We are heartened to see so many partners willing to work with us to bring some cheer and warmth during this festive season and to appreciate their efforts, and through ADEO, we look forward to making meaningful and valuable impacts in the lives of the migrant domestic workers in Singapore. ”


Showing care and love to value the contribution of the MDWs is our small gesture to lift their spirits as we celebrate the International Migrants Day and Christmas, which is widely known as the season of giving and bringing warmth and joy to others.
 

The Ministry of Manpower Partnered with HIA/AGWO, Klook and Xperience Singapore to Bring the Guest-Worker Brother on Tours to Tourist Attractions in Singapore

During the holiday season, many of us will take some time off to enjoy leisurely activities with our loved ones. However, for the guest-worker brothers who have to spend their time thousands of miles away from their families to ensure that they meet the needs of their loved ones back home, this is quite challenging for them which leads to poorer mental health, especially when they have been confined in their dorms for a long period of time. 

 

As the government has slowly eased the COVID-19 restrictions, the guest-worker brothers are finally able to have a break and enjoy the activities that we and our various partners have brought together. Other than the Deepavali celebration and activities that were organised in November, we are now bringing the guest workers on a tour to tourist attractions in Singapore, such as the Cloud Forest, Universal Studios of Singapore, Singapore Zoo, and many more. 

 

The Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—an initiative of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—partnered closely with the Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) group of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Klook and Xperience Singapore for the tour, as part of our efforts to bring warmth and joy to the guest-worker brothers during this Christmas festive season. 

 

A big thank you to all our donors who have donated your SingapoRediscover vouchers so that our brothers will get to enjoy their day off, visiting places they have never been before!

If you would like to contribute, donate here.

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AGWO partners with MOM - Deepavali Carnival (4-7 Nov) & Launch of Religious Services and Online Programmes in Tuas South Recreation Centre (7 Nov)

In order to assist our guest workers and help them gain new skills during this trying period, SowCare—the community service arm of The Bible Society of Singapore—has been partnering closely with the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—to launch new initiatives for the guest workers.

 

Returning to the Community

AGWO was delighted to see our fully-vaccinated guest workers gradually returning to the community—with health and safety protocols still put in place through a prudent approach. This good news was released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 9 September 2021. AGWO has been supportive of this development and is also pleased to be working alongside MOM and other relevant authorities to recommence activities for the guest workers. 

 

Engaging Guest Workers during Deepavali

AGWO partnered closely with the Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Tuas South Recreation Centre (managed by JTC Corporation), various stakeholders, and religious bodies to organise carnival activities for the guest workers during the Deepavali from 4 to 7 November at Tuas South Recreation Centre. There were games, magic shows, photo booths, mental wellness talks, free haircuts, lucky draws, and many more. There was also a Tuas Got Talent competition where three winners received $200, $300 and $500 respectively. During the 4-day event, there was also a distribution of festive meals and gifts to more than 5,000 guest workers across dormitories mainly in Tuas areas and to more than 2,500 guest workers who were present at Tuas South Recreation Centre.

 

Launch of New Initiatives

On 7 November, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, the Senior Minister of State for Manpower, attended the event as the Guest of Honour. He launched the religious services and online literacy programmes for the guest workers and presented award prizes. The religious services were a pilot programme started initially in September every week to improve wellness and fulfil the guest workers' spiritual needs. AGWO has collaborated with Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) Singapore—under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY)—and major religious bodies to launch these religious services. 

 

The online literacy programmes were also officially launched by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, together with the distribution of laptops to the guest workers. The online programmes began in September in collaboration with the Dorm Mums—a group of dedicated female volunteers who are committed to improving the lives of the guest workers.

 

When the programmes started in September, there were over 60 guest workers who registered and more than 10 teachers who volunteered themselves to run the various modules. The modules include three levels of English literacy, two classes of Finance literacy, 12 classes of basic Computer skills, 12 classes each for programming classes in Python and Front-End Web Design, and 12 classes for Microsoft Excel. To adhere to the safety protocols, classes have been temporarily held via Zoom every weekend. 

 

It was indeed so heartening to see all people from various different backgrounds come together to support and improve the lives of the guest worker brothers. May this Deepavali brought joy and happiness to our brothers as we journey together with them 👷🏿‍♀️❤️

BIG thank you to all the partners, volunteers and donors who have contributed so much of their time and efforts to make a difference. All these would not have been made possible without you ❤️

 

Visit hia.sg or agwo.sg to find out how you may be a part of future initiatives to care for our guest workers today!

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Meal Distribution to the Marginalised Community and Healthcare Workers

On 11 September 2021, Life Centre Community Services and Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) will be distributing festive meals to about 100 families in an HDB apartment block in Yishun, Singapore. The event is called All in, All Together!, in partnership with SowCare Together, Nee Soon Central Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC), Life Centre (Smyrna Assembly), and Wellington Primary School. 


The All in, All Together! Project is a ground-up initiative by a few like-minded individuals who have come together to lend a helping hand to support fellow Singaporeans during these trying times. This initiative is a continuation of Life Centre Community Services and HIA’s efforts to care for the needy and to bring some cheer to the community, and to support and appreciate our healthcare frontliners for their unconditional efforts during this pandemic. 


30 volunteers have been mobilized in order to deliver a care package (valued at $60 per household) to 100 underprivileged households in Yishun Block 162, to cover essential grocery items inclusive of healthier and sustainable choice items. The volunteers will be distributing 250 sumptuous care meals to the frontline staff from a government hospital. These meals will be prepared by a chain of selected restaurants.
Rev Ezekiel Tan, the Chairman of HIA said, “HIA is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Life Centre Community Services to serve and care for our fellow Singaporeans who are in need, especially those who are struggling in these challenging times. This is also our chance to extend our gratitude towards the healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly.”


The Executive Director of Life Centre Community Services and the Chief Outreach Officer of HIA, Rev Samuel Gift Stephen said, “In these trying times, it is so nice to see the community coming together to support one another. Singapore was built on the foundations of our pledge regardless of race, language and religion. This event, All In, All Together!, echoes this call for individuals to look beyond themselves and to serve each other.” 


We would like to thank our donors, partners and volunteers for giving their benevolence, time and contributions to make this such a fulfilling event for our fellow Singaporeans.


For more details on this event and past projects, visit hia.sg and lifeccs.org. 

A National Day Celebration Show for the Guest Workers Streamed Live on 8 August at 8pm on AGWO’s Social Media Platforms

In celebration of Singapore’s 56th Anniversary, the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)—a movement of Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA)—organised “The Road Ahead... Together” a special National Day celebration to honour and appreciate the contribution of our guest workers and foreign domestic workers to Singapore. This special virtual show was streamed live on AGWO’s Facebook Page (AGWOSG) and YouTube Channel (Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach) on 8 August at 8pm. The event was in partnership with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Project Dorm and was supported by Cochrane Recreation Centre (RC), Tuas South RC, Kranji RC, Penjuru RC, and Terusan RC. 

 

There were special performances by Anthem of Hearts—a band that has performed in prestigious venues and programmes such as Vasantham's Nenjukullae in 2017 and Pradhana Vizha. Awlad—who has been popular with his electrifying Bengali songs amongst the guest worker community—who also collaborated with the Anthem of Hearts. There were also exciting and interactive dance performances by Yaar Panj-Aab Bhangra Troupe—a group of young Bhangra dancers coming together to show a fusion of rich Bhangra culture with innovative modern dance moves. Rhythms Aesthetic Society also performed an interpretative dance number—a group of dancers that staged Krishna Guruvayoorappa, His Mystical Journey, a prestigious theatre production at Victoria Theatre. 

 

Mr Ezekiel Tan, President of Hope Initiative Alliance said, “The pandemic has affected many of the guest workers. They feel homesick and also miss gathering with their friends in Singapore, owing to the health and safety protocols. Through this event, we hope that such a gesture of care towards them would bring them some much-needed cheer.” 

 

Mr Samuel Gift Stephen, Lead Director of the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach, also shared, “It is also a way to appreciate the sacrifice of our guest workers, who have made such invaluable contributions to Singapore, and to recognise their courage, strength, and resilience.”

 

“As we celebrate our National Day, we want to acknowledge and recognise the contributions of our migrant workers who have helped to build and develop our country. We would like to thank our community partners AGWO and HIA for organising this show to bring our National Day celebrations and cheer to our migrant worker friends,” said Mr Tung Yui Fai, Chief of the Assurance, Care and Engagement Group (ACE) from the Ministry of Manpower.

 

There was a lucky draw by AGWO, where registrants—who registered by 1 August—stood a chance to win $3000 worth of cash prizes. The Ministry of Manpower also partnered with Singtel to organise a contest for our guest-worker brothers to design a greeting card that depicts what the Singapore Spirit means to them. The winners of the contest were revealed during the show. In addition, there were also special appearances by some of the guest-worker brothers who wished Singapore a happy birthday in their native language. 

 

AGWO also organised a weekly donation drive, supported by Dorm Mums—a dedicated group of female volunteers who have been taking care of the well-being of our brothers tirelessly. As part of this initiative, AGWO had a three-day cupcake distribution exercise for 8,000 guest workers during the National Day celebration. During the school holiday, 6,800 goodies were also baked and delivered to 50 dormitories.

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.