The upcoming Deepavali holiday will be a day of joy for Hindu devotees in Singapore, while the rest of us get to enjoy some time off.
But some foreign workers may have to spend the occasion working, while missing their families back home in India.
Lawyer Dipa Swaminathan understands that. So the founder of local volunteer group, It’s Raining Raincoats, which advocates acts of kindness and giving towards foreign workers here, is organising a Deepavali Drive, where people in Singapore could help spread some festive cheer to the workers.
Speaking to The Pride, Dipa said: “Last year, we did a pizza drive-by for the first time, and the workers were really pleased when we passed them the food at their work sites. It was a good feeling for many of our volunteers too, so we decided to run it again this year.”
For the past few years, It’s Raining Raincoats has routinely organised giveaways of food, secondhand clothes, raincoats, and prepaid data cards to migrant workers.
Now in its second year, the Deepavali Drive is calling for donations of vegetarian pizzas, samosas and data top-up cards, as well as volunteers who can help deliver the items to the migrant workers on Oct 19.
“There are no targets. We just hope to reach as many workers as we can. We’re also keeping it simple – the meeting point will be my home, and anyone who wants to donate pizzas can just have them delivered there on the day by 11am. Volunteers can then pick up the food and items, and head out to distribute them to foreign workers.”
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This year, the aim is to reach out to those who work on the roads, such as those who prune trees or are stationed at roadworks sites.
The food and donated items will also be shared with any foreign worker they encounter, as Dipa declared: “It’s about spreading that festive cheer regardless of their race and religion, and doing something nice for those who help to build Singapore.”
To many Singaporeans, a pizza meal and a $10 mobile data credit may not seem like much, but that gesture of care can mean a lot to migrant workers here.
Dipa shared: “When a car drives up to them, they get a little scared that someone is coming to scold them or complain about them. But when they see us walking up with smiling faces and hot pizza boxes, they’re just delighted. So many of them tell us they’ve never had something like that happen to them in all the years they’ve worked here.”
And that opportunity to break down barriers and do something kind for this invisible community is not limited to those who sign up for the Deepavali Drive, as Dipa pointed out: “A lot of times, there’s paralysis by analysis in Singapore, where we worry about what could happen if we do this or that. In reality, these gestures don’t need to be perfectly choreographed. Giving can be spontaneous and joyous.
“If you can’t join us, why not do something similar in your own neighbourhood? You could buy some fruit for the gardeners in your estate and any construction worker near you, to show that you care and appreciate these men for what they do to build our country.”
To learn more or sign up as a donor or volunteer of It’s Raining Raincoats’ Deepavali Drive 2019, please click here.