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Clan, NGOs to bring festive cheer to migrant workers

SINGAPORE — While thousands of Chinese nationals are flocking back to their hometowns to welcome the Year of the Rooster — a period marked by feasting, merrymaking and family reunions — a large group of Chinese migrants here will be spending the festive season far away from home.

SINGAPORE — While thousands of Chinese nationals are flocking back to their hometowns to welcome the Year of the Rooster — a period marked by feasting, merrymaking and family reunions — a large group of Chinese migrants here will be spending the festive season far away from home.

To help these foreigners experience the warmth and joy of the season, the Huang Clan Association (Singapore) will treat about 150 migrant workers to a meal of yu sheng and traditional Chinese steamboat, as well as a karaoke session, at its complex in Geylang on Feb 4.

While the event is aimed at reaching out to workers from the Chinese mainland, the organisers will also invite workers of other nationalities.

This is the first time that the association is organising the event in partnership with social enterprise Love Action Project. Aimed at promoting cross-cultural exchanges, its supporting beneficiary is the Migrant Workers’ Centre.

Apart from being treated to a hearty meal, the workers will also be given hongbaos, Mandarin oranges and international phone calling cards, each with 180 minutes worth of talk time.

Noting that youths may equate clan associations with “a thing of the forgotten past”, Mr Stanley Ng, 32, the association’s secretary-general of the youth committee, said they are looking to refresh and rejuvenate the image of clan associations and make it more “palatable” to the young. One way is by adopting social causes and providing platforms for youths to be engaged in.

Mr Ng and long-time friend from his university days, Mr Joe Tan, co-founder of Love Action Project, hopes to make this Chinese New Year gathering for migrant workers an annual affair.

“(We want) to get more clans involved in this, so that we can unite the clans in Singapore for a common cause,” said Mr Tan, 34.

Meanwhile, other organisations, such as HealthServe and Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), are also doing their part to help bring some festive cheer to migrant workers.

For example, HealthServe is organising an outing to the Istana on Sunday, and holding a reunion dinner early next month.

A HealthServe spokesperson noted that there are many Chinese workers who, after being injured on the job, are unable to work while waiting for their compensation claims to be settled.

“HealthServe community ends up being these workers’ ‘family’ while they are here in Singapore. As the workers are not able to celebrate CNY with their families back home in China, we organise these outings and dinners so that they are able to celebrate a holiday that is extremely important to them … (It’s) a way to get their minds off of their situation, see a bit of Singapore, and enjoy themselves,” said the spokesperson.

Ms Jacqueline Tan, the communications/partnerships executive for Home, which is organising a joint celebration with HealthServe on Feb 10, noted that some Chinese workers are staying back in Singapore while waiting for their salary- or injury-related cases to be resolved.

“Celebrating the Chinese New Year with them is just our small way of bringing some cheer into their lives, and that we are a community and they are not alone in their problems,” she said.

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