EXCLUSIVE: These Guys Are Running 4,107km To Raise $20k For Migrant Workers
STORY: Audrey Phoon
16 May 2020
How far would you go to help someone? In the case of amateur football club Purple Monkeys, the answer is 4,107km - or the distance between Singapore and Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
With group activities paused due to COVID-19, the 40-member team, who used to play every weekend, has come up with an efficient way to stay fit and do good at the same time. They’ve pledged to cover the equivalent of the route within a month in an attempt to raise $20,000 for migrant workers in Singapore, via daily individual runs in their neighbourhoods.
“The distance caused a few eye bulges at first, and then we just kind of went, f*ck it,” says team member and Run to Dhaka co-organiser Jonathan Gerard. “The more we saw in the news how the number of COVID-19 cases within the migrant worker dormitories was rising, the more we wanted to do something to help.”
Purple Monkeys founder Dian Liang, who started the club 10 years ago, has a personal affinity with the cause. “I did a part-time shift as a cleaner when I was younger, and many of my colleagues were migrant workers. Most were good, educated men who left their countries to seek a better life for their families. Some were misled by bad agents and given jobs they hadn’t signed up for.
“Though their pay was really bad and they could only afford to eat plain rice with curry, these guys wouldn’t hesitate to buy me tea. We should do what we can to help them - they’d do the same for us if the roles were reversed.”
The club’s Run to Dhaka commitment is through May, which means that each Monkey has to put in an average of 3km to 4km per day - no easy feat, considering that most have to manage full-time jobs and parenting. They clock their distances on the running app Strava (which the public can track by following ‘Purple Monkeys FC’ on it), and the team posts its progress on its social media pages.
Donations of any amount are collected via the club’s Giving.sg webpage and go to the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund, a humanitarian charity run by the Migrant Workers’ Centre. The initiative ends 1 June.
For the players, it’s all part of the fibre (fur?) of Purple Monkeys, which also holds an annual charity tournament to support the battle against breast cancer. “It’s become part of the culture of our club,” says Gerard. “To try and do what little we can to help other people or causes we feel are worthy.”
So what next, once the 4,107km is done? In time, maybe a friendly match with migrant workers, muses Liang. Or, says Gerard cheekily: “We could always decide to run back to Singapore!”
Support Purple Monkeys FC’s Run to Dhaka here.
Help our migrant worker friends
There are many ways you can do your part for the migrant community. Read our piece "You've Got A Friend In Me", in which we highlight how you can contribute to the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund, the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, and Hope Initiative Alliance.