April 13, 11:58pm: This was the exact moment I felt compelled to do something about the migrant worker health crisis. That night, I got a Gov.sg Telegram message that foreign workers had become a significant majority, with 280 out of 386 Covid-19 infection cases. I was devastated, knowing the difficulties they face in our system, and, of course, the communication barrier. After Googling how to build a website, I started to work on the translation site immediately to offer medical history questions from English to Bengali to help foreign workers and frontliners communicate. I had a (ready) translated English-to-Bengali medical history document, such as checking a patient’s travel history and symptoms, uploaded. My parents and two sisters helped to translate some materials previously, so all I had to do was to piece them together and do the audio recordings.
In eight hours, Sudesnaroychowdhury.wixsite.com/covid went live. It now has over 50,000 hits a month, with over 100 volunteers working tirelessly to improve the content. I’m touched by the generosity, kindness, and spirit of people rallying together during such times. The volunteers also helped to release a new mobile web version, Translatefor.sg, which contains romanised Bengali pronunciations, plus translations in 10 languages like Mandarin and Tagalog. I was very moved when a professor from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore told me that he shared the site with a group of over 1,600 doctors and 150 of his medical school batch mates (class of 1995).
The volunteers are now providing other free services, such as translating documents for hospitals, interpreting medical consultations via Zoom or phone, and reaching out to foreign workers to provide them with mental health assistance or food.
The needs for the websites are 24/7… and the fatigue gets to you. OMG… it was so difficult… and is still so difficult! I was able to dedicate three hours a night after coming home from work in the first few weeks. Now, I use my days off and weekends to work on them.
This article was first published in Her World’s July issue. Grab a copy today!