by Patricia Siswandjo on

Most of us enjoyed a well-deserved break from work yesterday thanks to the Hindu festival, Deepavali.

Yet, for the majority of Indian migrant workers in Singapore – many of whom do celebrate Deepavali – this public holiday was just another work day for them.

Instead of celebrating the Festival of Lights, they laboured overtime in order to earn more income, so that they can pay off their agency debts, as well as to send money back to their families. Those who managed to take the day off spent the holiday far from home, video-calling and missing their loved ones.

Which was why, on the eve of Deepavali (Nov 5), five volunteers from local non-profit migrant workers welfare group #Itsrainingraincoats spent their afternoon distributing nearly 150 pizzas, and several boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, to migrant workers at construction sites near Lornie Road, Bukit Timah Road, Clementi Road, and Sunset Way.

Helping, Migrant Workers, Food, Empathy
Image Source: Facebook / Itsrainingraincoats

This heartwarming gesture was part of the #OHWOW initiative launched by the group on Nov 3 as a means to reach out to those who are away from their families on Deepavali, and to thank them for all the work they’ve done over the past year.

The initiative aims to spread some festive cheer with treats such as a restaurant outing, an invitation to a home-cooked meal, and hearty lunches at various work sites, said Dipa Swaminathan, founder of #Itsrainingraincoats.

In a Facebook post on Monday, the group wrote: “Thank you Singapore!

“100s of pizzas were distributed today, surprising and delighting migrant workers toiling under the hot noon-day sun with greetings of Happy Deepavali and a side of Krispy Kreme donuts!

“Thank you to everyone of you who donated. We can’t do this without your support and we will continue with this initiative through Christmas, so please keep it coming.”

Speaking to The Pride, Dipa said: “The workers were delighted and thanked us immensely and wished us happy Deepavali.”

Helping, Migrant Workers, Food, Empathy
Image Source: Facebook / Itsrainingraincoats

“One of the workers said this has never happened to them before – to be surprised with such yummy treats while working.”

Dipa, who organises and volunteers at other migrant worker welfare initiatives, shared that one worker said he had seen her before at another event she helped organise at another construction site. Dipa said: “It was nice to be recognised with a big smile.”

“These workers built this city for us and keep it clean. We owe them a lot,” she added.

“Furthermore, they also celebrate Deepavali, but are here alone without their families and without the means to celebrate much. This is a small gesture to make them feel we think about them at this festive time!”

Those who are interested in contributing can visit the #Itsrainingraincoats Facebook page to donate items such as food, mobile data cards, or other gifts such as raincoats.