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3 women rally help for workers at Westlite dorm affected by Covid-19, pool over $10,000 worth of supplies overnight

Rome may not have been built in a day, but much good can still be done within a short span of time through the kind actions of others.

More than 300 people banded together overnight to donate over $10,000 worth of supplies to the 2,000 odd foreign workers staying at the Westlite Jalan Tukang dormitory, after reports were published on their alleged lack of access to proper medical care.

Workers staying at the dormitory alleged neglect, and that those who had tested positive for Covid-19 were not properly isolated and did not have access to medical support. 

Their situation came to light last Wednesday (Oct 13), when frustrated residents gathered en masse to confront the management at the accommodation, with videos surfacing of the non-violent altercation.

According to The Straits Times, residents at the dormitory are of different nationalities but rallied together to lodge their complaints.

In addition to the allegations, photos online appeared to show Covid-positive workers sleeping on the floor outside the dorm rooms so as not to spread the virus to their roommates.

Residents also claimed poor living conditions and said they had been given food that had worms in them or was spoiled, The Straits Times reported.

The police were eventually called and armoured riot police arrived at the scene to defuse the situation.

More than 300 joined WeChat group to help

Upon learning of their plight, three full-time mothers living in Singapore immediately formed a WeChat group to offer help to the affected workers, amassing more than $10,000 worth of supplies overnight.

The women, who are of Chinese nationality, were moved to act after reading about the situation in the news, reported Shin Min Daily News.

One of the women, a 37-year-old surnamed Hu, told the Chinese evening daily: “I didn’t expect more than 300 people to join the group overnight. It was touching to see people donating so enthusiastically.

Hu noted that those in the group comprised new Chinese immigrants, stay-at-home mums, or workers here on employment passes.

“We are not big bosses nor are we rich, but seeing our compatriots suffer, it made us want to come forward to help them.”

Hu added that one person had generously donated 200 boxes of apples, while others donated their own supplies of face masks, disinfectants, food and anti-fever medication. 

The supplies, estimated to have a combined value of over $10,000, were delivered to the dormitory on Thursday.

However, Hu pointed out that there was still a lack of medication for fever and colds, and hoped more can join the group to donate to those in need.

Of their motivation to do something to help, Hu said: “I have lived in Singapore for 13 years and understand the struggles these foreign workers must be going through. They came here to work in order to support their families back home. We didn’t wish to see their health and safety compromised due to the pandemic.”

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The Ministry of Manpower had stated on Wednesday that it was aware of the allegations against the dorm and preliminary investigations had found delays in transferring workers who tested positive for Covid-19 to the appropriate facilities.

Westlite Accommodation also acknowledged the delays, which it said were due to a spike in cases over the past week.

About 1,400 of the 3,420 beds at the dorm are occupied by workers from Sembcorp Marine, reported The Straits Times. The facility was newly-built and had just started operating in the second quarter of this year.

Under the new Covid-19 health measures announced two weeks ago, fully vaccinated workers who test positive but have no symptoms are to be isolated in a dedicated facility within the dorms for up to 10 days.

Those with symptoms are to be taken to community care facilities or hospitals depending on their condition.

candicecai@asiaone.com

Reference