We will not be home for
By Jonathan Jiang
As we walk down Orchard Road on Christmas Day soaking in the festive mood from the bright and cheery lights or partake in a cosy meal with our family, we often forget the privileges that allow us to celebrate this special season in Singapore. It would mean having the luxury of a day off work, having loved ones close to us or having the spending power at shopping malls. So often, we do not notice or remember the migrant workers who make it possible for Singaporeans to go about our daily lives and enjoy special occasions. For that reason, my wife and I decided to bring our four-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter along to serve in the Christmas carnival at Penjuru Recreation Centre. The idea is to bring the joy of Christmas into the lives of these precious migrant workers.
At 3.30pm, the sky was overcast and by 4pm, there was a heavy downpour at Penjuru Recreation Centre. The thundery shower did not dampen the mood of the volunteers as we had our briefing and early dinner. The stage crew and performers were rehearsing and setting up the decorations while the game booth volunteers were preparing the stalls to welcome the migrant workers and ensuring that the safe management measures were in place. My family was assigned to serve at the hoops and cones stall. It was very manageable to involve my children because they enjoyed picking up the hoops tossed by the participants in their attempts to get the hoops onto the cones to win prizes. They were also the ones to hand out prizes to the winners and it provided brief moments to interact with the migrant workers.
The opportunity to serve presented teachable moments for my wife and me as our children asked invaluable questions like why Cornerstone Community Services was organising this event for the migrant workers, why people would give up their Christmas to serve, and how the game stalls and performance would benefit the migrant workers. It was those questions and moments when we could share our heart for the migrant workers with our children as they observe community service in action.
The best life lessons for our children came in the form of twinkles in the eyes of the volunteers and migrant workers when they were having fun; the palpable excitement in the air when the performers were singing and grooving to Christmas songs and dance performances, and witnessing the participants whipping out their smartphones to have video calls with their loved ones from their home countries because they were just having so much fun. As we were interacting with the participants in the queue, one of the participants told my wife that he has just been in Singapore for a couple of months and the carnival at Penjuru Recreation Centre on Christmas Day has already made 2021 an awesome year for him even though it was his first-time celebrating Christmas in his life.
Note from Editor:
The Christmas Carnival is organised by Cornerstone Community Services especially for the migrant workers. The celebration took place on 25 December 2021 (5pm-9pm) at Penjuru and Terusan Recreation Centre respectively. Over 4,500 migrant workers attended the carnival with support from 73 volunteers.