Singapore—The hawker culture is such a big part of Singaporeans’ every day life that living without it is almost unimaginable.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic forced many of us to go without our regular doses of our favorite Hokkien prawn mee, crab bee hon or oyster cakes, even after some restrictions have been lifted.
Perhaps more importantly, movement restrictions have served to threaten the livelihood of many of Singapore’s hawkers, the majority of whom are people 60 years of age or even older. Plus, some of the hawker aunties and uncles don’t have the digital savvy to pivot to online platforms or to move to other jobs if needed.
Enter Hawkers United – Dabao 2020, which Business Insider (BI) has called a “Virtual hawker center.”
We first wrote about the Facebook group a few months back, when Singapore was still under the Circuit Breaker, and we’re happy to note that it is still going strong, perhaps even stronger than ever.
According to Melvin Chew, the owner of Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck and Kway Chap Stall at Chinatown Food Complex and the founder of the page, its aim was very simple. “[The] objective is to help hawkers to survive. Consumers can find food and drivers can earn some income.”
BI also quotes volunteer admin Jill Sara as saying that the Facebook group has been good for the hawkers’ bottom lines. She said that “the general consensus is if you post on Hawkers United you will see a spike in sales.”
However, older hawkers are still having difficulty using the page.
“Sometimes they don’t even have a touchscreen phone so they’re not on Facebook, they don’t have a social media account, so it’s hard. We encourage members to help post on behalf of the hawkers,” she told BI.
And so, younger customers have come to the rescue. One example of this was when one netizen wrote about a woman who “is very elderly and even shaking when she’s standing up but is still opening her stall everyday and trying to get on with life amidst the virus.”
The older lady in question is a stall owner who sells dim sum at Kwek Seng Huat Eating House.
The netizen added, “Due to Circuit Breaker, she hasn’t been able to sell much of her food items and business has been very poor. PLEASE HELP IF POSSIBLE.”
When the post ended up on the Hawkers United – Dabao 2020 page not only once but several times, so many people came to buy her dim sum that the woman ran out of food to sell within four to five hours.
In an update to her post, the netizen wrote, “Due to overwhelming support for Granny, she is able to finish selling her stuff 4-5 hours daily and you might not be able to buy anything from her if you go too late.Thankful that there are many many kind Singaporeans who rushed down to help Granny and shared this post.”
So, the next time you get a hankering for one of your favorites, we encourage you to visit the page just to see what’s available. You never know, but you might just end up with some new ones! —/TISG