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A sweet gesture: 2,400 baked goods to be distributed at migrant worker dorm in ground-up initiative

SINGAPORE — Migrant workers at The Leo Dormitory in Kaki Bukit are set to receive a sweet surprise on Sunday (July 4), courtesy of an initiative called “Birthday Makan” by Welcome In My Backyard (Wimby), a volunteer-run campaign that aims to bridge the gap between migrant workers and the rest of the Singapore community.

A sweet gesture: 2,400 baked goods to be distributed at migrant worker dorm in ground-up initiative

Ms June Ling, owner of Cookie Crumbles SG.

  • Birthday Makan is an initiative by Welcome In My Backyard (Wimby), a volunteer-run campaign 

  • It raised sponsored bakes from members of the public for migrant workers

  • They have raised close to 2,400 bakes, and will be delivering them to the migrant workers on Sunday (July 4)

  • Wimby hopes to make such initiatives more large-scale in the future

SINGAPORE — Migrant workers at The Leo Dormitory in Kaki Bukit are set to receive a sweet surprise on Sunday (July 4), courtesy of an initiative called “Birthday Makan” by Welcome In My Backyard (Wimby), a volunteer-run campaign that aims to bridge the gap between migrant workers and the rest of the Singapore community.

Under the initiative, which was started to mark Wimby’s first anniversary, six bakeries were chosen to bake sweet treats for migrant workers, and get their customers to chip in. 

Between April and mid-June, members of the public were able to sponsor a bake, ranging between S$2 and S$5 each, at any of the six participating bakeries. 

“It was actually an idea that was suggested to Wimby by a local resident,” said Ms Elly Chaw, the media strategy lead at Wimby. “Initially, we felt that 1,500 (sponsored bakes) would be a good target, but we raised close to 2,400 bakes eventually.”

Ms June Ling, owner of Cookie Crumbles SG, a home-based bakery, is one of the bakeries on board the initiative. She said the entire process has been an eye-opening one.

“Before this, the topic of migrant workers has always been an ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ matter to me. But after listening to Wimby’s pitch, I thought it was a great project to embark on, and it was something I wanted to explore,” said Ms Ling, 25. 

She adds that migrant workers’ integration into the wider community is now an issue that is close to her heart.

Ms Ling also went the extra mile to design customised packaging for the initiative, “to add an extra touch of love for its intended recipient.” 

She will be heading down with volunteers from Wimby to the dormitory on Sunday to personally deliver the baked treats to the migrant workers, and said she is feeling very excited.

“Previously, I wasn’t aware of the hardships that migrant workers have gone through during this period, and I hope that through this (initiative) they don’t feel like they’re forgotten,” she added.

Another baker participating in the initiative, Ms Neo Jasmine, similarly agreed to join as she felt that the initiative was a meaningful one.

“I heard a lot of stories about how migrant workers are stuck in their dormitories, and the multiple difficulties they face, so this is my way of reaching out to them,” said Ms Neo, who owns home-based business Awildflower Bakery.

She added that the response for the latest initiative exceeded the response she received last year when she participated in a similar Wimby initiative, called Backyard Makan.

“This time round, (my sales) were double the amount compared with last year. I think people are more aware of Wimby and the plight of migrant workers,” the 28-year-old noted.

As part of the initiative, members of the public are also encouraged to leave messages of gratitude when they sponsor the bakes. These will then be hand-written onto cards that will be delivered together with the bakes. 

“We have over 200 orders, so that’s about 200 cards we have to write out,” Ms Ling quipped.

Ms Chaw said that Wimby hopes to make such initiatives more large-scale in the future, but noted that manpower issues may pose a challenge as they are completely volunteer-run.

“With the current restrictions, it’s very difficult for Singaporeans to interact with migrant workers, so this initiative provides some form of interaction and it serves as a good intermediary,” she said.

Ms Chaw added that they will be commencing a small pilot project at The Leo Dormitory, where they will provide around 600 postcards for migrant workers to send back to their families. The postcards were designed in collaboration with two local artists. 

“We are definitely looking forward to organising in-person events again, because that’s something we haven’t done in a long while (due to the Covid-19 situation),” she said.

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