Look refugees in the eye: Powerful video experiment breaks down barriers



The film shows natural, spontaneous reactions between people meeting for the first time in a warehouse near Berlin’s old Cold War-era crossing, Checkpoint Charlie. The refugees came from Syria and Somalia and had lived in Europe for less than a year.


In this experiment, it is clearly shown that by having a communication, the barrier between people of different culture will melt down.

Existing platform: i am a migrant


i am a migrant is a campaign and platform. We create a place for the personal stories of migrants. We want to challenge the anti migrant stereotypes and hate speech in politics and society.

i am a migrant lets migrants tell their own stories – on this website, in social media and many other places worldwide. Together we want to show: Migration has a human face. Migration is diverse.

This is why we are interested in the stories of all migrants, regardless of whether they have been away from their home country for 40 years or 40 days.

Your support is needed! Become part of our campaign and help us share the personal stories of migrants.

This is how it works:

You want to tell your own migration story?

  1. Write down your story and upload it together with your picture on iamamigrant.org
  2. Create your personal i am a migrant poster to put on your wall, to send to your family and friends and to make your social media profile

You know somebody with a compelling story, who you want to write about?

  1. Ask migrants about their personal story
    1.  Record the interview with a smartphone or recording device
    2.  Write it down
    3.  Take a good quality picture
  2. Upload directly to iamamigrant.org
  3. Tell your friends and share the i am migrant profiles

i am migrant is a global campaign supported by a broad alliance of partners, including International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI).


I think that this website is very beautifully done. It has the ability to share migrants’ stories from all over the world, that might help the visitors to know more about them. The page also has an interactive a map showing global migration flows! Unfortunately, they do not feature Singapore inside.

Journal: International Migrant Workers’ Use of Mobile Phones to Seek Social Support in Singapore


International Migrant Workers’ Use of Mobile Phones to Seek Social Support in Singapore

by Arul Chib, Holley A. Wilkin, and Sri Ranjini Mei Hua


International migrants often need social support to deal with an unfamiliar environment and reduce stress caused by prevailing attitudes in their host country, as well as that induced by distance and separation from their family. This study investigates whether mobile phones facilitate or inhibit migrants’ ability to seek the social support needed to reduce the stress they experience in their host country. Further, gender differences are examined and discussed. A quantitative survey of men (n 56), primarily Bangladeshis working in blue-collar occupations, and women (n 60), primarily Filipina domestics, was conducted in Singapore. For women, mobile use alleviated stress by increasing social support; emotional support had the greatest impact on their psychological well-being. Male migrant workers were more likely to experience stress the more they used their mobile phones and when receiving increased emotional support. This finding is in contrast to traditionally held assumptions about the beneficial impacts of mobile phones. We caution against treating immigrants as a homogeneous group, and recommend inclusion of variables such as gender to understand the role of technology-mediated social support in alleviating migrant stress. We further propose that policies and programs facilitating transnational communication for low-income migrants need to be examined carefully in terms of their unintended impacts.

Learning points:

  1. Migration stress that Migrant Workers face is related to:
  • Poor mental health that manifests in anxiety, depression, apathy, feelings of isolation.
  • Homesick and loneliness.
  • Discrimination in workplace and society.
  • Financial constraints on social and self-improvement activities.
  • Interpersonal relationship issues.
  • Language barrier.
  • Financial difficulties.

*I need to pin down one issue that I will work on.

2. Despite many organizations that are available to help migrant workers, such as Transient Workers Count Too and HOME, the migrant workers can’t access the service due to restrictions enforce by their employers or a general lack of awareness.

3. Bangladeshi construction workers are more difficult to integrate to the society due to their coming from lower socioeconomic brackets and not a good command of English. They are commonly known as “unskilled” manual laborers.

* They might be my main subject of research.

Existing Initiative: Migrant Workers Awareness Week 2016



1. Lunchtag #1 & #2
31 January, 0930 to 1300 & 3 February, 1130 to 1500
This event allows two people who would never otherwise have met to connect over a meal.

Lunch Tag #1 will kick-start the event with a friendly lohei decoration competition involving both students and migrant workers, which will be followed by lunch in the Yale-NUS College dining hall.
Lunch Tag #2 will be held, picnic-style, at the Botanic Gardens. This lunch will involve foreign domestic workers from the HOME Shelter and interested members of the public.

2. Empowerment through Writing: Voices from the Margin
31 January, 1830 to 2100
in collaboration with Banglar Kantha, a Bengali newspaper
*Only the Poetry Reading and Cultural Night component [6.30-9pm] is open to the public.
Support the Bangladeshi migrant workers by watching their performances and listening to their poetry under the stars!

This event comprises four segments:

i. Writing Workshop: for migrant workers to improve reading and writing in English
ii. Post Home: a platform for migrant workers to send postcards to their loved ones back
iii. Poetry Reading: where poems written by participants will performed and translated
iv. Cultural Night: to end off the event, there will be a night of music and dance where
our guests will showcase their talents through performances and a fashion show.

3. Speaker Series
Opening Panel – Migrant Workers: Persons or Projects?
1 February, 1145 to 1400
Covering a broad range of issues from manpower needs and planning to migrant workers’ rights on the ground, the opening panel aims to deliver a discussion which takes into account economic, social, and political factors. This panel will be moderated by Prof. Sheila Hayre from the NUS Faculty of Law, and graced by our Guest-Of-Honour, Mr Victorio M. Dimagiba, Jr., Minister & Consul General of the Philippines Embassy.

Distinguished speakers include:
Mr Tan Fang Qun, Deputy Director of Workplace Policy and Strategy Division in Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
Mr Jolovan Wham, Executive Director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME)
Mr Alex Au, Treasurer of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2)

Foreign Domestic Workers: Foreigner or Family?
3 February, 1145 to 1400
What unique issues do foreign domestic workers face? How are their rights protected when they work behind closed doors? This panel aims to zoom in to the issues pertaining to foreign domestic workers here in Singapore.

Distinguished speakers include:
Ms. Caryn Lim, Deputy Director of Workplace Policy and Strategy Division, Foreign Manpower Unit in Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
Mr. John Gee, Chairman of the Research Sub-Committee at Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2)
Mr. Desmond Chin, Chairman of Nation Employment Agency
Prof. Sheila Hayre, Senior Lecturer at NUS Faculty of Law

Sex Work: Labour or Vice?
4 February, 1145 to 1400
There has always been controversy surrounding the issue of sex work. Is it legal or illegal? Is it more of a grey area? Moderated by Prof. Jaclyn Neo from NUS Faculty of Law, this panel aims to bring an informative and comprehensive discussion of issues surrounding migrant sex workers. For a more genuine perspective of what is happening on the ground, Lisa, one of Project X’s Program Coordinator and Outreach Officer will be joining us at this panel as well.

Distinguished speakers include:
Ms Vanessa Ho, Coordinator of Project X
Ms June Chua, Founder of The T Project
Ms Sallie Yea, Labour Migration and Human Trafficking Scholar
Ms Lisa, Program Coordinator and Outreach Officer at Project X

4. Learning Journeys to Geylang & Tuas View Dorm
2 February, 1500 & 1800
Participants will be given the chance to explore the heart of where many migrant workers live and work, in order to give an up close and personal experience in understanding their different situations. Each Learning Journey will focus on a different area specific to a category of migrant workers.

5. Dialogue in the Dark
4 February, 1700 to 1830
Participants will converse with migrant workers from varying occupations, such as sex work to construction. These conversations will be held in the dark, where visual differences between both parties become blurred.

6. A Day in the Life: an Exhibition
31 January to 4 February
A Day in the Life chronicles the journey of migrant workers: how they came to seek employment abroad, and the hardships faced upon arrival in Singapore. This exhibit seeks to raise awareness about several issues regarding migrant workers such as unfair practices, rights and privileges, situations of abuse, and living conditions.


Rapid Growth in Singapore’s Immigrant Population Brings Policy Challenges



This is a more comprehensive overview of migration in Singapore: low-skilled foreign workers, high-skilled foreign workers, foreign students, emigration from Singapore.

Ongoing Issues, Challenges, and Social Change

Having greatly liberalized its borders in the past few years, it is not surprising that Singapore’s migration reality has become more complex. The influx of large numbers of new immigrants into the city-state seems set to continue, even as emigration accelerates and fertility rates fall to a new low (1.15 children per female in 2010, down from 1.60 in 2000). In this context, attracting skilled foreigners to live, work, and settle — while keeping low-skilled workers under thumb — will likely remain a priority for the foreseeable future.

With the prospect that increased immigration could bring new challenges to Singapore socially, the government is working hard to maintain a state of harmony within what is already a multicultural nation. In several high-profile ministerial speeches in 2011, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day rally speech as well as former-Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s recent reminders about the nation’s reliance on immigrants for growth, Singaporeans were encouraged to take a long-term view; continue to welcome talent; and, at least for a while, to “accept the discomfort” of having more foreigners around. While not expected to relinquish their cultures and languages, immigrants have been urged to participate in local events so that they can learn more about the traditions of their adoptive communities.

In 2009, Singapore’s National Integration Council was established to promote interaction and national solidarity between locals and newcomers. Notably, a S$10-million (U.S. $7.95-million) Community Integration Fund was created to sponsor activities that foster bonds between Singaporeans and immigrants. Additionally, 2011 saw the launch of the Singapore Citizenship Journey, an enhanced orientation program for new citizens comprised of online elements, field trips to heritage sites, and community sharing. The People’s Association, which appoints “Integration and Naturalization Champions,” further engages new citizens through home visits, grassroots activities, and community work.

Social integration is, however, far from smooth on the ground. To some locals, newcomers — particularly the ubiquitous Mainland Chinese — are commonly seen as uncouth and prone to objectionable behaviors like littering, eating on public transit, and talking loudly on the phone. Similarly, South Asian construction workers and Filipino domestic workers have also been singled out as targets of public backlash. With criminal activity rising, including several high-profile murders in mid-2011, foreigners have also been blamed for the deterioration of public safety in Singapore.

Immigrants have responded with their own set of rejoinders. A spate of online disputes in 2011 involving Mainland Chinese immigrants ridiculing Singaporeans as “ungracious,” “disgusting,” and “inferior” reveals the extent of social discord despite the state’s efforts toward immigrant integration. In August 2011, an immigrant family from China went so far as to lodge a complaint against their Singaporean-Indian neighbors for the smell of curry emanating from their cooking. In response, a Facebook page urging Singaporeans to prepare curry on a designated Sunday drew over 57,600 supporters. Ironically, Singaporeans of different ethnicities have become more united in this time of discord with immigrants.

Another point of contention relates to the belief that immigrants compete with Singaporeans for jobs. While the state insists that only jobs unfilled by citizens are assumed by foreigners, the government is still frequently criticized for not curtailing the uptake of managerial and professional positions by non-Singaporeans. Suspicions that the labor market is giving preferential treatment to the foreign born — described as “cheaper” and “harder-driving and harder-striving” than Singaporeans — are not helped by certain official statements. In particular, unemployment figures are routinely published as an aggregate comprising citizens and PRs, which obfuscates the actual unemployment rate among Singaporeans.

Paradoxically, a more tolerant side of Singapore emerges when it comes to the rights of unskilled and low-skilled foreign workers. Civil-society action has sought to address the adverse working conditions of foreign-born domestic workers — about 200,000 in Singapore today, mostly women and mainly from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka — since the early 2000s. Many have benefited from the social and advocacy support offered by nongovernmental organizations like Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics and Transient Workers Count Too. Not only have these groups raised public awareness about the plight of foreign domestic workers, state agencies are now more inclined to attend to cases of abuse.

Similar help has also been extended to the other 670,000 work-permit holders. Some issues being addressed include workplace safety, wage and foreign-levy policy, accommodation standards, and the regulation of unsafe truck transport for migrant workers.

While their efforts are comprehensive in scope, the success of civil society in Singapore remains tied to the will of a strong state. Foreign-born domestic workers, for instance, have long been deprived of regular days off as part of their employment. This particular aspect of domestic work will change beginning January 2013, when a new law mandating days off will take effect. But such extended, hard-fought battles highlight the difficulty that advocacy groups face in lobbying within a depoliticized space. They also hint at how citizens’ distrust towards immigrants can further rigidify officially sanctioned surveillance curbs on foreign workers.

In sum, as Singapore comes of age in its development, new opportunities and problems have once again opened up the former colonial city to mobilities. While Singapore has long depended on external resources to satisfy its needs — for its workforce, jobs, education, talent, and even marriage — the country’s goal to augment its population today presents much more complex risks, uncertainties, and challenges, often exacerbated by inconsistent policy outcomes. Indeed, the streams flowing through the highly globalized city have become decidedly more turbulent in recent years. With wisdom, perhaps the nation’s political leaders can weather the storm that is now brewing.

Sheryl Chen, 22, Sharing Her Encounter with Xenophobia



Never felt more ashamed to be a Singaporean.

I was on the way home from meeting my French friends that I met while on exchange in Korea (backstory will be explained later on). People who take 41 from Jurong East will know that the bus passes by lots of workers’ dorms at Toh Guan, so it’s really common to have lots of Indian/ Bangladeshi FW on the bus at night.

The start of the bus ride was rather normal, with people just filling up the bus and taking their seats. That peace was broken as the bus started rolling out of the interchange. This Chinese uncle started shouting “Fuck can you shut up? Stop talking!” at a FW who was on the phone. The FW immediately told him that it’s a public space and asked him what’s wrong with speaking on the phone. I can’t remember what the Uncle said but it was something along the lines of how he doesn’t like the way he talks and the FW should know his place as a foreigner AND THEN the uncle told the FW that he should be respected because he’s an Elderly Singaporean (wtf dude?)

At this point EVERYONE on the bus was just silently looking at the commotion happening but no one was stepping in. I understand if the rest of the foreign workers didn’t want to step in due to fear of escalating the situation, but there were definitely other Singaporeans on the bus who could have stepped in to get the uncle to calm his giant mantits. At that point I interjected and (politely) told the uncle to calm down. He just kept telling me not to “act smart” and kept verbally abusing the FW with Hokkien vulgarities (classy).

I told the FW to come sit opposite me instead, and he took the offer. Despite this, uncle just kept going on and verbally abusing the FW and yet demanded that the FW should respect him. At this moment I had a very boss moment and told the uncle that RESPECT HAS TO BE DESERVED. Uncle’s best comeback was to tell me not to act smart again.

The bus fell (awkwardly) silent, until the uncle was about to alight and told the FW to “behave himself as a foreigner.” Oh that gall. FW obviously got dulan and confronted him about it so the uncle challenged him to a fight off the bus (LOL secondary school bengs don’t die, they just graduate from toilet fights to bus stop fights). The FW next to me and I both had to restrain the victim FW who was obviously riled up. So I told the uncle that his ancestors were also immigrants and we are all immigrants (yeah bro, your ancestors are from China. What are you gonna do about it????). Uncle started being physically aggressive towards me (and the said victim actually physically shielded me from the uncle :'< ) At that point I shouted at the uncle to just get off the bus (and yes, no other Singaporeans came up to help.)

Once that bugger got off the bus, the other FW and the victim had a debate about not aggravating the crazy. Victim commented that he hoped Crazy Uncle was not Singaporean, because that just gives Singaporeans a very bad name (ooooo I have news for you bro ?). He also said that its okay if he gets scolded, but I shouldn’t be scolded because I’m innocent and I’m female, which was why he was also physically shielding Crazy Uncle away from me. At that point I was rather emotional because I just kept thinking how shitty racist Singaporeans are, and also how I had used my Chinese privilege to stand up for something but I totally forgot about the privilege I possess as a female (and that I’m really more privileged than I thought.) What I really wish I said to him was that I’m really sorry that he had to experience this, and it’s even sadder that I cannot guarantee that it will never ever happen again to him.

As they got off the bus, the FW sitting next to me said “thank you sister for supporting us.” It was the victim whose final sentence to me made me emotional though. He thanked me and went “Because of you, I still have faith in Singaporeans.”

We are all foreigners. What makes you so special than other FWs just because your ancestors came here 3 generations (or maybe 2 for that uncle) ago? Were they not foreigners too? What makes you superior?

Who died and made you god that you can judge and rank cultures over others? Singaporeans have a penchant of looking up to angmohs and bending their backs over just for them. I’m pretty sure the situation will be much different if it were an Angmoh talking on the phone. We also love east Asia (don’t get me started on K wave) and we treat them so well. But when you hear someone is Filipino/ Indian/ Bangladeshi/ PRC you immediately start looking down on them and want them out of your space. You give them so much shit on a daily basis and yet you blame alcohol intoxication for causing riots. #neverforget

Singaporeans, you are really so ugly.

This is one of the example that xenophobia is real in Singapore. However, some people also stood up to challenge the notion 🙂

Existing Platform: StandUpFor.SG




What would it take from us to make Singapore a great city?

We have a vision for Singapore: a more gracious place. A more creative place. A more inspiring place. We believe that you too can start somewhere. And it is our sincere hope that we inspire you stand up for our Singapore too.

On 1st May 2016, they had an event in Little India to create a conversation between the locals and migrant workers. The migrant workers also got to write their thoughts on a piece of paper, and hang it on the wall.

Feelings of home amongst Tamil migrant workers in Singapore’s Little India


Feelings of home amongst Tamil migrant workers in Singapore’s Little India by Wajihah Hamid


Low-wage Tamil migrant workers have long been contributing to Singapore’s economy. Despite labouring there for three decades and being connected to the existing Tamil diasporic community in Singapore, they have been left out of both state rhetoric and society, often due to claims of transience. However, a fatal traffic accident in the locality of Singapore’s Little India in December 2013 involving a Tamil migrant worker that morphed into a riot has again brought the problems of these men and their presence within the vicinity of Little India to the fore. This paper is based on a wider ethnographic study of a group of Tamil migrant workers from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu who were working in Singapore in 2012. The homely feelings experienced by the migrant workers highlight their feelings of homesickness vis-à-vis the need for a sense of belonging felt amongst transnational male migrant workers. On the other hand, practices that make the space unhomely for them not only illustrate their social position but will also lead to to the study of the governmentality of migration and control of migrant bodies.

Keywords: Tamil migrant workers, Singapore, Little India, transnational home, policing, governmentality