In a collective effort to care for migrant workers during the COVID-19 period, Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) launched a new art project and a mask sewing project with the financial support of Maybank. Today, 13,200 masks sewn by volunteers were handed over to Mr. Yeo Guat Kwang, the Chairman of Migrant Workers’ Centre, for the Centre to distribute to migrant workers.
To further integrate migrant workers into the local community, Tzu Chi and Maybank will invite 550 migrant workers to join in an art project titled “Stay Home Quilt””, which is driven by Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre, partnering with 3Pumpkins Community Arts Lab and their resident artist, Jimmy Ong (note). Each participant will receive a sewing kit to create any patterns on a piece of upcycled denim fabric and share their inspiration or story behind the creation through pen and paper. The fabric artworks designed by the migrant workers will be consolidated into commemorative art pieces for display in the dormitories’ recreation rooms. For every piece of completed fabric artwork, Maybank will pledge a S$20 donation to Tzu Chi to support their future outreach programmes for migrant workers.
Lim Choon Choon, Manager of Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre said, “We started the mask sewing project in April where CYC Tailor collaborated with us for the first four batches, and Maybank came on board for the final batch by sponsoring materials and activating their staff volunteers to sew alongside our community volunteers. A total of 54,546 handmade cloth masks were produced for Migrant Workers’ Centre. In addition, we have launched the ‘Stay Home Quilt’ art project to provide a medium for migrant workers to share their life experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak. We encourage them to express their emotions — pining for family love or supporting their friends to keep well — through the act of sewing and self-reflection. The number ‘55’ symbolises Singapore’s celebration of independence and commemorates the workers’ contribution in making Singapore a safe home.”
Sharon Eng, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Maybank Singapore said, “We are delighted to help enhance the well-being of migrant workers and stand in solidarity with the Singapore community. The economic and social impact from this crisis will last far beyond the health pandemic, and we are all part of a bigger community, therefore Maybank will continue to look at how to support vulnerable groups as the situation evolves. Besides partnering with Tzu Chi, Maybank sent care packs to 7,500 migrant workers and personal protective equipment for dormitory staff at Tuas South Dormitory through Migrant Workers’ Centre during the Ramadhan fasting period, as we understand that many of them were spending time alone in their rooms and we wanted to cheer them up with their favourite snacks.”
Tzu Chi would like to thank all community volunteers and their family and friends involved in mask sewing during the circuit breaker period. Tzu Chi plans to continue to improve the quality of life of migrant workers after the circuit breaker period and will incorporate art into the recreational life of healthy and recovered migrant workers living in dormitories. More art and communal activities will be rolled out for migrant workers in the next six months.
The lead artist of this project is Jimmy Ong. The project is organized by Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre and 3Pumpkins, sponsored by Maybank Singapore, and supported by Singapore International Foundation, The Majurity Trust, PAssionArts in Nee Soon GRC, Chong Pang Community Arts & Culture Club, and Nee Soon East Community Arts & Culture Club.