Singapore— A charity aimed to upskill domestic helpers held a party not only in honour of the country’s bicentennial and National Day, but to also celebrate the domestic helpers who are part of our daily life.
There was also a special birthday cake for the seven domestic helpers with birthdays in August.
The Straits Times (ST) quoted Siti Mur Wati Bawel, an Indonesian domestic worker who has been working in Singapore for twenty years as saying, “I am happy because it is nice to celebrate my birthday with my friends here.”
Approximately 300 domestic helpers attended the gathering organised by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) at its headquarters/clubhouse in Jalan Bukit Merah.
Additionally, embassy representatives from the domestic workers’ home countries, including Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Myanmar, were also present at the celebration.
In her speech at the celebration, the assistant treasurer of the organisation, Leslie Yong, said,”Besides celebrating Singapore’s independence, the occasion offers our domestic helpers and friends another opportunity to better understand the culture, customs, and values that we embrace.”
The attendees were serenaded by a band of domestic helpers from different foreign countries, who played National Day songs such as ‘Stand Up For Singapore.’
They also played a trivia game concerning various aspects of Singaporean life and culture such as food, music, and history, and played traditional games like chapteh, five stones and hopscotch.
Of course, the attendees were also treated to a delicious feast of local treats, such as durian, chicken rice, and roti prata.
FAST is an organization supported by the Ministry of Manpower. According to its website, its objective is to “level up the skill sets of FDWs working in Singapore with core skills so that they can add value to their work and thus benefit their employers and the local community as a whole;” as well as to “enhance their future employability through acquisition of specialised and professional skills sets.”
A non-profit organization, FAST provides and promotes social support for Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs). The group is responsible for offering developmental courses for FDWs, and also provides a befriending service and a 24-hour Helpline for FDWs in the country.
Founded in 2005, FAST was formed to keep an eye out for and take care of the domestic helpers around Singapore coming from other countries. As the group’s Facebook page says, “These Foreign Domestic Workers sacrificed much to be working in our homes over extended periods. Some form close bonds with employers and some don’t – but we are here with an extended hand for them.”
Groups such as FAST are necessary for Singapore. There are an estimated 250,000 foreign domestic workers in Singapore, some of whom end up in situations where there are mistreated or harmed since “they are the only group of migrant workers not protected under Singapore’s Employment Act, but are covered under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act,” which means that have no formal legal protection.
In 2018, FAST was a recipient of the Philippines Presidential Awards 2018 “Kaanib Ng Bayan” Category -/TISG