Charity Drive By Music Star Shabir Helps Hawkers And Migrant Workers At One Go
STORY: Sim Ding En
08 June 2021
Amid this pandemic, many of us have been doing our part to help the different communities in need, whether it's buying food from our beloved hawkers and preserve our UNESCO-recognised hawker culture or sparing a thought for our migrant worker friends.
One superstar and his team have taken things further.
After coming across an article about how an elderly hawker was suffering due to the current restrictions, local Kollywood star Shabir was moved to tears.
Prompted by a surge of compassion, Shabir and his team at Shabir Music Asia kick-started a fundraising campaign called "WeEat" that supports our hawkers and, at the same time, lets our migrant worker friends have a taste of local cuisine - it's an ingenious way of making two friends with one gift, so to speak.
We speak to Buvan, the Executive Music Producer at Shabir Music Asia, to talk about this awesome endeavour and how the rest of us can help.
Tell us a bit more about the WeEat initiative.
When the pandemic first hit, we - Shabir Music Asia (SMA) - had previously worked with COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC) to produce "Letters", a series of music videos aimed to bring cheer to the lives of migrant workers through messages of strength, resilience of faith, with inspiring words by significant poets.
This time around, our team came up with the idea of buying food in bulk from our hardest hit hawkers and sending them to dorms where our migrant brothers stay.
This then gave birth to WeEat.
WeEat sponsors and orders food in bulk from the hawkers and sends it to the workers’ dormitories to show that they are in our thoughts during this time.
What goes on behind the scenes to make this initiative work?
As of now, the team of SMA along side with the volunteers part of CMSC are going on the ground, interacting with the affected hawkers, hearing their plight and helping to transport food to the respective dormitories.
Last week, we went down Amoy Street Food Centre to help collect food and this week Shabir and myself will be doing a delivery as well. We have also been getting a lot of calls and messages from people expressing interest to come down and volunteer for WeEat.
One of the stall owners said that she thought she was being scammed until she got paid for the food. The hawker could not believe that someone was willing to help them during this time.
This initiative has brought a lot of joy to both the hawkers and the migrant workers as they feel that someone is thinking of them and supporting them during this time.
What kind of food does the WeEat initiative provide our migrant worker friends that they might not have tried before?
First of all, when we were on the ground interviewing our migrant brothers, we found out that there were some concerning issues.
Our migrant brothers are currently not allowed to go outside of their dormitories apart from work and they have not been able to come out into our community since the last Circuit Breaker.
We often hear Singaporeans lamenting about not being able to meet our friends or consume food outside. Can you imagine how this would have affected the mental health of our migrant workers?
The workers have always been curious about our local Singaporean food but generally do not dare to try it as they don't know what to order and how to order it.
To them, what is mee-bee hoon campur goreng? Or what is kopi si siew dai or what is ondeh ondeh or goreng pisang? Food like this is uniquely Singaporean and we want to build a bridge between our community and our migrant brothers through this food exchange.
What sort of feedback have you received from the migrant workers?
Our brothers have sent videos and pictures of themselves enjoying and indulging in the food and are ever grateful.
One particular voice note I received today humbled and moved me tremendously. Seeing that we have started this fundraising initiative, a group of migrant workers had requested that they wanted to donate to help support our local hawkers during this period.
This endearing voice note single-handedly warmed my heart and reminded me of why we do this.
How important has the CMSC been during this pandemic, and in what ways has it helped our migrant worker brothers?
Established on 6 April 2020, the COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC) is a fully volunteer-run group-up initiative that started as a collaborative effort between a few smaller migrant workers supporting groups, together with other like-minded volunteers, to meet the needs of our migrant friends affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To this end, they also actively engage their dorm operators and employers, the relevant Ministries as well as the wider public, so that the issues can be dealt with through a multi-sector perspective.
The effort is a highly collective one, and they believe that everyone has a part to play.