The Solidarity Marathon, founded by four like-minded individuals and cross country enthusiasts, Yew Chong, Charles, Rajesh and Jon. They strived to raise funds for HealthServe by pushing their limits and pledging for a virtual run spanning a distance of more than 670km. In an interview with the founders, Charles, a medical student, and Neo, an accountancy student, we asked them why they decided to raise funds and awareness for HealthServe.
When asked why they wanted to support migrant workers, the founders shared with us that migrant workers were a community misunderstood by society due to stereotypes. Citing a childhood story, Charles spoke of how he had formed an impression of migrant workers as being helpful and proactive when a fellow brother guided him and his grandmother back home when he was young. Yew Chong always wondered why migrant workers were treated differently and began to question this as he became older. This spurred him on to embark on this project and do his part for the migrant worker community. Charles also shared that his experiences as a PE teacher at Rainbow Centre for children with disabilities and volunteering at the NGO, Homeless hearts, inspired him to embark on social work, as he saw the “enthusiastic and overlooked side”of these communities.
“HealthServe plays an important role in the support eco system of migrant workers in singapore because it provides the basic needs of food, water and healthcare”- Charles
The founders, who were in the same school cross country team for 6 years, were moved by the support and guidance HealthServe provided to migrant workers. They realised that their friends and family members were not aware of the services provided by HealthServe and their great impact on migrant workers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aiming to be a network that promoted HealthServe, they encouraged others to donate or pledge to run a challenging distance to show solidarity with our migrant brothers.
They talked about how good quality healthcare is difficult to obtain in Singapore for foreign workers with low income, causing the health and productivity of many migrant workers to suffer. This is especially important for migrant workers who engage in physical labour everyday since they often do not know where to receive aid due to a lack of funds. They told us the crucial role HealthServe plays to mitigate this by providing affordable healthcare and ensuring migrant workers are not forced to return back to their hometowns if they get injured.
Charles also mentioned how HealthServe played a part in improving the mental health of migrant workers, through different events and activities. He said that this was very important for migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, since they often had more restrictions and were confined to their dormitories in isolation. The physical and mental support HealthServe provided to migrant workers made us a more appealing beneficiary to them.
“They rely on other people’s experience instead of making their own. Sometimes the stereotypes are unfounded”- Yew Chong Speaking of how the experience with HealthServe had impacted him, Yew Chong said he realised the need for a change in perspective regarding migrant workers such that it is not “us vs them” . He recognised the importance of mutual understanding between migrant workers and Singaporeans and fostering this through raw conversations and friendships with them.
We are grateful that young individuals such as Yew Chong, Charles, Rajesh and Jon recognise the importance bridging communities and are willing to run an extra mile to support HealthServe and our services to migrant workers.