From June to September, HealthServe met more than 3000 migrant workers through our weekly cruise ship engagements. Our team had the chance to connect and learn about their stories and time in Singapore so far. Here’s Zakir’s story so far, we hope that more of our migrant friends can feel safe and welcome in Singapore as Zakir does.
Zakir was very happy with the books that NLB donated to HealthServe, “good for brain and thinking” he said as he looked through the books during our Cruise Engagement session. He chose 3 english books to help him pass his time on the ship.
Married with 3 children, his eldest son is studying in University, hoping to become a doctor. Zakir counts himself lucky, prior to 2020, he used to see his family in Bangladesh 3 times a year (this is rare, many are sometimes unable to return home yearly due to flight ticket prices and lack of paid leave).
An active learner, and fluent English speaker, Zakir finished University in Bangladesh and is currently studying at Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic. He describes his hometown as a beautiful small village – he enjoyed looking across the padi fields as the sun rises, most of all, he misses the fresh homecooked food back home.
Zakir has been working hard in Singapore since 1998 and takes pride in his work, his skills were soon recognised and he was promoted to work in the office. As the sole breadwinner of the family, Zakir has provided a comfortable standard of living for his family back home and he hopes to continue doing so.
To him, Singapore is a place where he feels safe on the streets. With a relatively low crime rate, he does not have to worry about being robbed. He was pleasantly surprised when he took the MRT in Singapore for the first time, “everyone queue [properly], don’t push each other” as he compares this to the chaotic experience of taking trains in Bangladesh.
As he recounts his first time in Singapore, he admitted he had difficulties adjusting to the food here. “ It smells so different, I never eat before at home”, it took him a few tries but now he enjoys Nasi Lemak and other Malay food.
After spending more than 25 days on the cruise ship, Zakir is now back to work and hopes to continue working here to support his family.