As written by Huda and Pawan, Communications & Engagement interns of HealthServe. We got to know Melon better when he joined our Going Home Programme. This programme addresses the psychosocial and rehabilitative needs of injured migrant workers.
It was in 2019 that Melon left his home in Dhaka, Bangladesh to work in Singapore, with hopes of supporting his family. His stay in Singapore, however, was far from smooth-sailing.
In Singapore, Melon found work in the plumbing industry. He had not worked for long when his employer tasked him with tidying up the company storeroom for an upcoming audit. While doing so, Melon lifted up a toilet bowl in an attempt to shift it. However, he struggled under its weight, lost balance and fell.
“I go home, wah, I no take shower, I no eat”, he recalled. Despite having taken six pain relief tablets, he added that “night time very very pain”.
The next morning, he awoke in terrible pain, alone in his room and unable to move. He visited an outpatient clinic as advised by his employer and was then referred to a restructured hospital. There, he discovered the cause of his immense pain; a CT scan revealed a spinal fracture.
Upon hearing that he should do an emergency surgery, Melon fretted. “If I do surgery, who want to employ me? If employer see my details, background, who want to employ me?”
As the eldest child, he felt the weight of caring for his family on his shoulders. “I need to work also, I still very young. I have family, parents. I need to work”, he shared.
Fortunately, he heeded the advice of a supportive community – from his mother, his employer’s daughter to his doctors – and decided to proceed with the surgery. “Just listen to them, they know better than you”, his mother had said.
On the seventh day after his injury, he completed surgery. That marked the start of his recovery process.
“Next question is how I know HealthServe is it?”, he chuckled, sitting in front of us.
Smiling, we responded, “Soon, but not yet”; we still had to hear the rest of his story!
From his demeanour, it was clear that he felt very comfortable and familiar with us – unsurprising, as it was close to two years since he had first gotten to know HealthServe. While in hospital, a medical social worker attended to him regularly, and connected him with Daniel and Mr. Tim from HealthServe.
Every day, they visited and bought food for him, and over time they got to know each other better. Three months later, when he returned to his dormitory upon discharge from the hospital, they continued to visit him.
“I am very proud of HealthServe, they help me too much. I never hoped some organisation can help this kind”, Melon shared with a smile.
Melon has many friends in HealthServe. When asked who his friends in HealthServe were, he answered, “all are friends”. Truly, Melon has befriended many in HealthServe, and I have heard many people speak warmly of the positivity and friendliness he brings with him wherever he goes.
When asked whom in particular in HealthServe he was good friends with, he responded without hesitation: Jasmine, from our Casework & Social Services team. He recounted that at his lowest point, she had counselled him via video call for an hour daily.
“That time, I am very serious, very very serious… I remember I crying… That time, I never hope I can recover”.
Looking back, he shared that the help he had received and the friendships he gained kept him going.
“If I am sick long time, if HealthServe no with me, I think I don’t know what. Really, I found out HealthServe like family member. I love HealthServe.”
Since the surgery, Melon’s health has improved significantly. He shared his plans to swim in the local river upon his return to Dhaka, an image my inner romantic was drawn to. One of us exclaimed, “Everyday can go!”
Since our chat, he has returned home, but I still find myself wondering what he is up to. Did he end up going swimming in that river? Did he finally get to meet all of his family and friends? Right now, I don’t know, but I am sure that whatever he is doing, he is bringing joy to the people around him.