Stories Of Impact
Helping migrant workers with a home and a heart
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

Helping migrant workers with a home and a heart

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Happy group of individuals posing with a 'home' sign.

When Li Meimei*, a single mother of two young children from Chongqing, China came to Singapore last year, she had hoped to be able to work to pay off the loan of RMB 200,000 (SGD 40,000) which she had taken out in her home country.

However, she got far more than she had bargained for when she started working for a beauty and massage parlour in Singapore. Not only did Li have to pay kickback to her employer, she was also coerced to perform illicit acts for customers. When Li refused, she was punished with menial labour such as cleaning and clearing out rubbish.

While working, Li suffered a fall and fractured her tailbone. Her employer was unsympathetic, and after discovering that Li would take a long time to recover, cancelled her work permit and attempted to repatriate her without compensation of salary or returning her kickback.

Eventually, Li managed to seek reprieve when she approached the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME). HOME is supported by the Migrants Emergency Assistance and Support (MEANS), a Community Impact Fund (CIF) managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). HOME provided Li with shelter, food and a transport allowance, even paying for her medical bills which allowed her to continue treatment for her injury.

Singapore is host to more than a million low-skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers from countries in the region, and many of these workers experience similar situations faced by Li Meimei. Unpaid salaries, overwork, physical and psychological abuse are the problems that some of these men and women have to endure during their employment in Singapore. A significant number of migrant workers are also victims of forced labour and human trafficking.

Through CFS’s casework team, HOME was able to assist 1,400 marginalised migrant workers in 2019. Out of that number, 409 workers were provided with financial assistance to pay for temporary accommodation, seek medical care and buy food. CFS disbursed a grant of over $47,500 in June 2019 using donations via Giving.sg. Such financial assistance is also extended to support male migrant workers who are evicted from their dormitories, or for migrant workers to purchase flight tickets and bus rides to reach their home countries safely.

HOME received IPC charity status in 2004, and continues to be one of the few organisations in Singapore that provides support to migrant workers and is dedicated to upholding their rights. Their efforts are primarily directed towards the welfare and empowerment of migrant workers, which are focused on but not limited to shelter, transport, crisis support, skills development, counselling and medical needs.

*not her real name

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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The Business Times – Educational giving vital in breaking poverty cycle: Ng Chee Meng

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“Education is a strong driver of social mobility and is critical to breaking the poverty cycle between generations, a point that was made by Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng at the sixth annual global Credit Suisse philanthropists forum on Thursday.

This, as educational giving could enable the next generation to improve many aspects of their lives, be it health or income, he said.

“A key reason why giving is important to me is that it supports and creates a virtuous cycle in our society. Those who give become role models to inspire others who may be younger to do the same and over time, this virtuous cycle lends disproportionate influence over long periods of time.”

Simple acts of charity or strategic philanthropy targeting root causes of social challenges would build a more caring and cohesive society for future generations, said Mr Ng.

Governments could support this cycle of giving through the private sector, he said, adding that in Singapore, non-profit organisations advise donors and help match their donations to worthy causes. For example, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and the Community Foundation of Singapore have been promoting a giving culture over the years.” Read more.

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The Business Times: Collective action to meet community needs sustainably

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AS companies today find themselves caught between the dilemma of limited resources and the compelling desire to create social impact, it is increasingly apparent that the key lies in collective solutions.

Challenges facing our society are ever-changing and usually stem from multiple root causes. Therefore, systemic solutions for such issues need collective knowledge, resources and will.

Credit Suisse, alongside NVPC and Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), hence formed a working group to provide education for disadvantaged children and CoLABS was launched on Feb 8, 2017.

…..CoLABS is a collaborative platform that enables companies to not only deepen their understanding about education needs but also bring about scalable impact and a platform for risk diversification and creation of innovation solutions. Read more.

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LIFT (Learning Initiatives for Employment) Community Impact Fund – Training and increasing employability for marginalised groups

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The Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund (CIF) from the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) provides social enterprise funding to enable disadvantaged groups to obtain training in order to be more employable. 

The funding provided has allowed two social enterprises, the Bettr Barista Coffee Academy and Dignity Kitchen develop a more standardised training programme for their students, as well as expand the number of training places available to aid more disadvantaged groups to enter the workforce.

Both social enterprises were covered in the story, along with the experiences of a beneficiary that had benefited from the programme. It was reported that the two enterprises had provided training for 115 people from April 2020 to March 2021, and managed to get 73 people employed, out of the 91 that had completed the training. Amongst the 73 employed, 55 of them remained employed for more than three months, showing the success of the programme.

The first story covers the journey of Jiefan, an 18 years old who had dropped out of school a few years prior and was on probation due to violating the law. He went through 20 interviews in two months, yet was not hired due to his probation and surveillance sentence. After a recommendation from his social worker, Jiefan received training at the social enterprise Bettr Barista, where he not only learned how to brew coffee, but also to control his emotions and improve his communication skills.

The second story talks about the experience of Jerry Tan, 23 years old, who had suffered from a stroke four years ago back in his second year in Singapore Polytechnic. While he survived, the left side of his body was left stiff and weak, and his left arm still remains unresponsive up till today. In addition, with the vision in both of his eyes also affected, Jerry was disadvantaged physically. He underwent a one-month training course in Dignity Kitchen to complete a series of Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ), following which he worked in a Japanese restaurant for about a year, before returning to Dignity Kitchen to serve as a cashier due to Covid-19. Jerry is now currently helping to train other colleagues with physical disabilities while he considers his future education and career.

The article also featured a quote from Joyce Teo, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of CFS, explaining how the disadvantaged people also needed some training to adapt to the workplace environment, as most of them had never gotten a chance to enter a formal workplace in society. She also spoke about how she hoped that the public could actively support and donate to the LIFT fund to help subsidise the training fees for the socially disadvantaged population, which could cost $5,000 per individual on average.

If you would like to support someone in their journey towards sustained employment opportunities, please visit our donation drive on Giving.sg here.

This translated article was originally published by Lianhe Zaobao 

Credit: Lianhe Zaobao © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.  

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The Business Times: EDIS manages CSR like a business

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For many, CSR (corporate social responsibility) has been an extracurricular activity, almost cosmetic in the way it sits outside the realm of real business. However, companies such as Economic Development Innovations Singapore (EDIS) are exceptions, given the way it manages its business – which is collaborative, sustained and in-depth.

EDIS is an international economic development company which undertakes the development and management of integrated industrial and urban areas.

Leveraging on its experience in Singapore, EDIS provides strategic advice to other countries. Innate to its business is the need for a long-term, strategic view, flexibility, and a nimble attitude, which it applies to CSR. Read more.

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