Stories

Regaining Strength in His Hands

CR first started working as a carpenter when he was 17 years old, upon completion of his secondary school education. In hopes of a higher paying job to support his family, CR decided to leave his family of 6 back in his home province in Jiangsu, China. Since then, he has worked in other countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka before coming to Singapore in 2001 and has worked in different contracts here for a total of 15 years.

Because he struggled with overcoming the language barriers in the other countries he has worked in, he shares that he prefers working in Singapore as he understands the language and it is more developed. CR likes the clean and green environment in Singapore and he feels safer to work and live here. For instance, CR mentions that most of the people he has interacted with in Singapore are courteous, and the drivers will never hesitate to stop for pedestrians to cross the road, unlike in China. When asked about his hometown, CR proudly describes it as one by the seaside with a port that has developed well in recent years.

In June 2018, CR’s hand got cut by a motor while he was sawing wood at work and bled profusely. CR was rushed to the nearest hospital but his surgery was delayed by 11 hours. 3 months later in November 2018 during a follow-up at the hospital, the doctor assessed that the first surgery was successful but did not produce the maximum results and was insufficient for proper healing. As such, the doctor recommended CR to go under the knife once again in an attempt to reduce his disability. Due to the severance of nerves, it resulted in CR losing his sense of touch from his middle till his pinky fingers. 

However, his company was reluctant to provide a letter of guarantee required for the second surgery and tried to convinced CR not to undergo the surgery in fears that the cost of his operation will exceed the budgeted amount under WICA. By the time he managed to obtain the letter of guarantee from his company it was no longer valid for procedures in year 2019. Due to these circumstances, the hospital made a decision to change the surgeons assigned to his case, which unfortunately complicated and delayed the surgery even further.

CR learnt about HealthServe through a Chinese migrant brother whom he met at MOM. After sharing his predicament with him, the Chinese migrant brother recommended CR to approach HealthServe for help. We learnt from CR’s case worker at HealthServe that he was very discouraged and was prepared to forgo the surgery. He repeated many times to his case worker during the 5 months of agonising wait between November 2018 to March 2019, “If no surgery, nevermind.” HealthServe assisted CR to negotiate with MOM, the hospital and his company before he was finally able to get an updated letter of guarantee and gain access to the second surgery he needed in March 2019. He is currently going for physiotherapy and hopes that his hand functions will improve although he has accepted the fact that he has lost his hand functions permanently.   

CR used to feel very isolated as he was living in his dormitory alone and used to bottle his anguish up. However through HealthServe, CR has befriended many migrant brothers with whom he shares his troubles and sorrows with. CR also shares that some of his newfound

friends even reach out to him on a regular basis to ensure that all is well with him. He enjoys the outings that HealthServe organises, such as Gardens by the bay.

Due to CR’s injury sustained at work, he was unable to return home during Chinese New Year this year and it has been a year and a half since his last visit back home. Instead, CR video calls his family frequently but hides the truth about his injury to prevent them from worrying. When asked about his plan for his future, CR shares that despite the hot weather and long hours, he still wants to work in Singapore because the salary that he is able to earn here, albeit rather low, is still more desirable than back home.

However, he acknowledges the fact that he may not be able to return to Singapore due to his advancing years and his injury. As such, he may have to find a different industry to work in back home as his job typically requires 2 hands.

We are currently working together with CR and the relevant parties involved to hopefully reunite him with his family soon!

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