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Youths of Diverse Religious and Racial Identities Volunteer in Preparing for Iftar for Migrant Workers Residing at North Coast Lodge Dorms

On March 16, 2024, a group of youth volunteers from Sowing Care Together (SCT) at Hope Initiative Alliance, representing various ethnicities, dedicated their Saturday afternoon to prepare and serve iftar meals to the migrant brothers. This activity was organised with Assurance, Care and Support Group (ACE) from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Indian Muslim Social Service Association, An-Nur Mosque, An-Nahdhah Mosque, F-FRY, and Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach in Hope Initiative Alliance. 

The youths joined other volunteers from partnering organizations at Marsiling Community Centre to prepare food for over 1,000 migrant brothers residing at North Coast Lodge Dorms. They assisted members of the Indian Muslim Social Service Association (IMSSA) in packing the food to be served during the breaking of fast later in the evening. They also helped with preparing the food for sahur (the morning meal) before Muslims begin their fast. 

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. During this sacred month, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, refraining from consuming food and drink. The fast is broken with a meal called iftar, traditionally starting with dates and water, followed by a larger meal. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five Pillars of Islam and is a time for spiritual growth, increased devotion, and acts of charity.

The taste of biryani — a mixed rice dish widely favoured by our migrant workers far from home — is an attempt to relieve homesickness. But the heartfelt process of preparing this dish with fellow Singaporeans has brought us closer to our migrant brothers. The various stages of serving biryani, from simmering in large pots to portioning into takeaway containers, have sparked lively conversations among SCT members, with some sharing insights into the diverse cooking styles of biryani across different regions of India. Subsequently, during the engaging sessions with the brothers at North Coast Lodge Dorms, many brothers expressed their love for biryani, fostering a mutual exchange as we shared our own experiences in preparing this beloved dish – even to Singaporeans. Through these interactions, we found ourselves truly bonding over biryani. 

With Ramadan ongoing, we were joined by Muslim volunteers who were fasting, adding a special significance to our gathering. However, our experiences and efforts pale in comparison to the daily challenges faced by the migrant brothers. Their work is inherently strenuous and exhausting. Despite this, they diligently observed their fasts alongside their demanding jobs. In conversations with them, we learned about their experiences of fasting while working. They shared that their Singaporean bosses and supervisors demonstrated understanding by allowing them short breaks during the hottest parts of the day. Overall, SCT youths' interaction provided valuable insights into their fasting experiences.

Notable among the volunteers was SCT Young Leaders Council member, Karthik Ramasamy, who is a Hindu vegetarian. He helped in preparing the chicken briyani, transcending religious dietary differences and demonstrating a deep understanding of the social cause he was engaged in.


Sivani, a volunteer with SCT said: “Engaging in iftar with migrant workers provided a profound opportunity to extend a warm welcome and embrace them as integral members of the Singaporean community. As we shared the meal, conversation flowed effortlessly, creating an atmosphere of inclusivity and belonging. It was a moment where cultural differences dissolved, replaced by a shared sense of camaraderie and acceptance. Through this experience, we not only gained a deeper understanding of their lives but also reaffirmed our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive society where everyone feels valued and respected.” 

Zhu En, a member of SCT Young Leaders Council, who regularly volunteers with migrant workers cause in HIA shared: As volunteers, we are coming together to acknowledge and appreciate the guest workers. This includes the effort to make them feel welcomed in our community through genuine interactions like learning about their culture and building relationships. Today, we are blessed to have the chance to understand how Muslim guest brothers are observing Ramadan as well as break fast together. We are essentially, bridging the gap to connect both worlds through understanding our similarities and differences. After all, we are Together in Singapore".


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