#HerWorldHerStory: She distributed food to Malaysian workers stranded in Singapore

by Hayley Tai & Cheong Wen Xuan  /   September 3, 2020

The real estate agent started an initiative to deliver sponsored meals to Malaysian workers who were stranded in Singapore


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I can’t imagine being stranded in another country alone with no money. This was the plight of many Malaysian workers in Singapore when Malaysia announced the Movement Control Order in March. They were given little more than 24 hours to return to Malaysia in the wake of the pandemic. Many faced financial difficulties with job losses. I read about their plight on social media and learnt that many needed food. The workers were used to having or packing their meals in Johor Bahru before commuting to Singapore, where food cost much more. Their savings depleted quickly. I told my husband, “Let’s help as much as we can”.

We formed an informal initiative to deliver daily meals like fried rice and briyani. To reach out to the affected workers, I posted the initiative on my Facebook account to provide us with their names, numbers and addresses in Singapore. The post caught on with so many people! Through word of mouth, food sponsor Dignity Kitchen, reached out to us.

Every day, we set off in our car at 4pm to collect the sponsored meals by different eateries as well as the public, who paid for it in advance. Then, we distributed the meals to about six locations like Alexandra and Sembawang. By the time, we were done, it was 10pm.

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We relied on food donations and paid for the travelling expenses from our own pockets. From delivering 80 packets of food daily, it went up to nearly 500 packets at one point.

One family even paid for 100 packets of chicken rice… I was so touched by the many who came forward to help. It’s tiring having to juggle this on top of my real estate job. But as long as I’m healthy, I’ll keep helping them.

What I enjoy most is meeting new faces during deliveries. I can see the smiles in people’s eyes even though they’re wearing a mask. I’ve become friends with the workers… they call me, “kakak” (Malay for sister). They’d come up to me to give me a hug… it moves me to tears each time I think about it. It shows how much they trust us even though we’re complete strangers.

This article was first published in Her World’s August issue. Grab a copy today!