Stories

Bridging Communities with ZJ

我们的威海市去年说是中国宜居城市之一!(Our WeiHai city is ranked one of the top liveable cities in China last year!)” Coming from WeiHai city in Shandong province, ZJ describes his hometown with pride. Located next to the sea, it is a picturesque city filled with mountains and beaches. For 10 years, ZJ worked in a fishing rod manufacturing company there and found peace in his work.

After facing some personal difficulties, he decided that he needed some time for himself and coupled with the booming job opportunities to work in Singapore during that time, ZJ made the big decision to migrate out of his hometown to a foreign land. One of his hometown friends working in Singapore recommended him to an agent, who then introduced him to a printing company, where he is worked at till now.

When he first came to Singapore in 2013, he was very worried about how he can acclimatise into an environment that is completely unfamiliar to him. Moreover, doing a job that he had no prior experience in meant that he had to learn new skills quickly. However ZJ was able to adapt quickly to living in Singapore and even began to enjoy his work due to the remuneration he received from working overtime.

In December last year, ZJ suffered an injury while trying to fix a machine, his hand was deeply cut and his nerves were severed. He had a surgery done and has been going for physiotherapy sessions ever since. During physiotherapy, he met YG, another one of HealthServe’s beneficiaries, who introduced him to HealthServe as ZJ said he could not cook food for himself. He has made many friends and having this community has helped him to learn about the inner working of procedures in Singapore. Without HealthServe, he feels that he would have been very bored and would not have been able to sleep or eat well.

Having lived in Singapore for the past 5 years, we asked him about the main differences he sees between China and Singapore. Interestingly, he told us that while the governance is better and the environment is cleaner in Singapore, he does not understand why many elderly continue to work even though they have reached their retirement age. If they were in China, they would be enjoying their golden years in the parks or with their families. Not only so, he remarked that many Singaporeans he saw were very wasteful. “比如说冰箱有点小问题,新加坡人喜欢买新的,不要修。(For example, if the fridge has small problems, Singaporeans like to buy a new one, instead of fixing it.)” 

In HealthServe, we serve migrant workers who come from various countries – Bangladesh, India, China etc. Apart from helping these migrant brothers through their difficult times, we are glad that through our conversations with them, we are also able to learn a lot about their perspectives. We hope that through such open discussions, we can bridge communities and gain a deeper understanding into their cultures.

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During physiotherapy, he met YG, another one of HealthServe’s beneficiaries, who introduced him to HealthServe as ZJ said he could not cook food for himself. He has made many friends and having this community has helped him to learn about the inner working of procedures in Singapore. Without HealthServe, he feels that he would have been very bored and would not have been able to sleep or eat well.

ZJ has not returned home in over a year and at one point had not met his family for 5 years. He worries that he is missing out on the chance to take care of his young son, who is attending primary school. We hope that his case will be resolved soon and that he will be reunited with his family soon once again.

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