A mass picnic opposite Mustafa Centre in Little India yesterday afternoon saw more than 5,000 foreign workers and Singaporeans turning up to mark International Migrants Day, which falls on Dec 18.

Some of the workers received handmade “Thank you” cards penned by school children in Singapore, and youth volunteers from the National Youth Council’s Young ChangeMakers team mingled with the workers to chat and play games.

There was also a photo exhibition and a video screening to showcase and thank foreign workers for their contributions to Singapore.

The video featured workers sharing their hopes and dreams, their motivation to work here, and why they like being in Singapore. In the year, the video team also followed the workers when they spent their free time doing volunteer and charity work for nursing homes and non-profit organisations.

The photo exhibition, titled Invisible Hands, cast a spotlight on the lives and struggles of the migrant workforce, and came about when Ms Rachel Ng, who had a 12-week internship with the Migrant Workers Centre earlier this year, decided to document the daily lives of foreign workers.

The exhibition will make its way to NTUC Centre at One Marina Boulevard, Penjuru Migrant Worker Recreation Centre, and Tuas View Dormitory this month, with plans to take it further to the heartlands next month.

Foreign workers form about one-third of Singapore’s total workforce and they are a major contributor to the nation’s economic development, especially in industries such as marine, construction and manufacturing, where there is a labour shortage, the Migrant Workers Centre said. It is a call to recognise the workers’ contributions, and invites all to show respect, appreciation and fair treatment of migrant workers.

Mr Bennett Neo, co-chairman of Migrant Workers’ Forum, said: “Here in Singapore, migrant workers have stood shoulder to shoulder with us through our years of nation-building, and they have touched our daily lives in so many ways …

“Migrant workers are people, too, and having done so much for us, they certainly deserve our appreciation, respect and the simple dignity of being treated fairly.”

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