Making a Difference in the Lives of Migrant Workers in Singapore

Making a Difference in the Lives of Migrant Workers in Singapore

Migrant workers have been an integral part of Singapore’s workforce for several decades, with a history dating back to the early days of the country’s development. Since then, the number of migrant workers in Singapore has continued to grow, with over 1.4 million according to the Ministry of Manpower, accounting for more than a third of the country’s workforce. These workers come from various countries, including Bangladesh, India, China, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines, and work in a wide range of industries, from construction and manufacturing to domestic work and hospitality.
A migrant construction worker resting by the side of the road in Singapore

The majority of foreign workers in Singapore are men who work in industries such as construction and manufacturing, enduring physically challenging working conditions and long work hours. These workers make significant sacrifices to provide for their families back home, and their hard work should be recognised and appreciated.

On the other hand, domestic helpers, women who make up a significant portion of the remaining foreign workforce in Singapore, also face their own set of challenges. They leave their homes and families behind to provide essential services to households across the country, and they deserve our respect and gratitude for the sacrifices they make every day.

The difficulties encountered by migrant workers in Singapore are often overlooked by the common person, despite their valuable contributions to the country’s economy. It is crucial to recognise the need for improvements in their day-to day-lives, for example in their living conditions, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this blog post, we will discuss ways in which we can improve and help the lives of migrant workers in Singapore. We will highlight the problems they face, the impact that COVID-19 had on them, and ways we can make a difference in their lives.

Challenges Faced by Migrant Workers

Migrant workers in Singapore encounter various challenges and difficulties, that can be concerning and difficult. They may have limited access to social services due to various factors including language barriers and unfamiliarity with the local system. As a result, they may not receive adequate healthcare, which can affect their quality of life and work performance.

Three construction workers staring at a bridge behind a skyline

While some migrant workers in Singapore may receive fair compensation and work in decent conditions, there are instances where they may be required to work for extended hours in unfavourable settings. Such situations can be both physically and emotionally draining and can adversely affect their overall well-being. It is important to recognize these issues and work towards addressing them as a society.

As a community, we have a responsibility to provide a safe and welcoming environment for migrant workers in Singapore. Recognising the contributions of migrant workers and addressing their challenges can not only benefit them but also foster a more inclusive and diverse society.

The COVID-19 Impact on Migrant Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on migrant workers, particularly those living in worker dormitories. Due to travel restrictions, many workers were unable to return to their home countries, leaving them stranded in Singapore. Furthermore, with the construction industry facing a slowdown and reduced job opportunities, many workers faced difficulties finding outside work.

Construction workers resting on the side of a construction site

Compounding the situation was the fact that many workers lived in close quarters in large numbers, making social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures challenging to implement. As a result, worker dormitories became hotspots for COVID-19 transmission, leading to a surge in cases among the migrant worker population.

The Singapore government took swift and strict measures to address the situation, including the closure of dormitories and the establishment of temporary housing facilities to house affected workers. These measures not only helped to contain the spread of COVID-19 among the migrant worker population but also highlighted the importance of safeguarding the health and well-being of all members of society, especially vulnerable groups like migrant workers. We must continue to show compassion and support for our migrant worker community, as they continue to play a vital role in the growth and development of our nation. 

The pandemic has intensified the social isolation experienced by many migrant workers. As a result of strict border controls, these individuals have been unable to visit their families and loved ones in their home countries. Moreover, due to limitations on gatherings and social activities, it has become even more challenging for them to establish connections with others and cultivate meaningful relationships. These circumstances have increased feelings of loneliness and homesickness among them.

It is unfortunate that migrant workers, who have already encountered various challenges and difficulties, are facing further hardships due to the pandemic. As a community, we should aim to provide them with more assistance during these challenging times by equipping them with the necessary resources to remain healthy, safe, and connected.

How You Can Get Involved and Make a Difference

Volunteers carrying bags and boxes labelled donation

The lives of migrant workers in Singapore can be very difficult, and they face a range of challenges. While their hard work is admirable, they often encounter obstacles that make their situation challenging. Nonetheless, there are ways to support them and help improve their lives. Here’s how: 


Extend a Helping Hand Through Your Donation

Donating to organisations that support migrant workers is a powerful way to show your compassion and support for those in need. These hardworking individuals often lack access to basic necessities like food and medical supplies, and your donation can help fill that gap and make a real difference in their lives. 

Just imagine the impact your donation could have on a migrant worker who is struggling to make ends meet. Your contribution could help provide them with the essentials they need to survive and thrive in a foreign country. It's a simple but meaningful way to show your appreciation for their contributions to our society and help lift them in their time of need.

One organisation that is doing amazing work to support migrant workers in Singapore is the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI). ACMI is committed to providing support and assistance to migrant workers of all faiths and backgrounds, helping them navigate the many challenges they face while working in Singapore.

But the people leading ACMI cannot do it alone - they rely on donations from generous individuals like you to continue their important work. Your donation can help support ACMI's efforts to improve the lives of migrant workers in Singapore, providing them with the resources and support they need to thrive.

Volunteering Your Time

Imagine being far away from your home, family, and friends and not having anyone to turn to for help or support. This is the reality that many migrant workers face in Singapore. However, you can make a difference by volunteering your time to support organisations such as ACMI. By doing so, you can help distribute food and supplies, offer language assistance, and spend time connecting with migrant workers.

Volunteering is not only a chance to give back to those in need but also an opportunity to learn about different cultures and build meaningful relationships. Imagine the joy and gratitude you could bring to a migrant worker who is seeking a better life.  Even a small amount of your time can make a big difference in their lives.

It's difficult to witness the hardships and challenges that migrant workers encounter in Singapore. However, we have the power to make a significant impact by supporting them in every possible way. Through our donations and volunteering, we can provide them with the necessary resources, offer them companionship and emotional support, and enhance their overall quality of life. Let's join hands and strive to make a positive difference in the lives of these hardworking individuals.

Help The Lives of Migrant Workers in Singapore with ACMI

ACMI is dedicated to providing migrant workers in Singapore with the essential support they need. Their services include counselling to help workers cope with the emotional and psychological challenges they may face and befriending programs to build supportive communities. They also offer legal aid in collaboration with volunteer lawyers and shelter in partnership with Good Shepherd Centre.

ACMI provides financial assistance to workers when necessary and offers educational, vocational, and pastoral care training to help them develop new skills and improve their quality of life. Their Bread Basket program also provides gifts of meals, provisions, and social interaction to needy workers.

Through their advocacy and public education efforts, ACMI strives to raise awareness of the challenges faced by migrant workers and work towards promoting greater respect and understanding for these hardworking individuals in Singapore.

If you would like to support our work and help improve the lives of migrant workers in Singapore, we encourage you to consider donating to Caritas Singapore. We are a non-profit organisation that aims to assist those in need. Through various initiatives, we aim to help the poor, the marginalised, and those who are struggling to make ends meet. By donating to Caritas Singapore, you can help us in our mission to create a more just and compassionate society.  

To enable us to continue our social mission of making Singapore a better place, we welcome your support through donations in the form of cash, cheques and legacy giving.

Ways to Give to The Caritas Singapore Family:

Thank you for your kindness and compassion towards migrant workers in Singapore.