In October this year, my church celebrated World Migrants Day to recognize the foreigners who leave their families behind and come to our shores to earn better wages. These hard working individuals who include domestic helpers are often in search of a better life and face the difficult experience of migration in its various forms. Their working hours are long and draining and we should accord them respect and consideration.
We need to provide them with decent meals and it pains my heart when I see many of the foreigner construction workers sharing their meals during lunch time on the pavements near the sites where they toil from morning to night.
I was delighted when the Assistant Parish Priest of my Catholic Church, Reverend Father Cornelius Chng highlighted the need for the congregation to treat these workers fairly with kindness and compassion. Father Chng highlighted a very important message in his homily where he mentioned that while we give these workers a big treat once a year at Christmas; we tend to forget about them after the event is over. This is very true and many of those who are needy also experience this.
During the period when my wife was alive, we always looked forward to some fine dining that was provided by our church 4 times a year. I also got birthday treats on Valentine’s Day with my wife from an organization. It not only gave us the opportunity for some fellowship, but we were treated to some great seafood meals and set meals. This prevented social isolation and made us feel loved and cared for.
Unfortunately, now that my wife has died, I can no longer benefit from such fine dining as I just can’t afford it. It is such a sad state of affairs that one has to be mentally ill or suffer from some form of disability before support is given. Am I that easy to forget?
His counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who was on a working visit to India from 3rd to 7th October this year to strengthen bilateral cooperation VIP hospitality and fine cuisine. I read in a newspaper the sumptuous menu that was offered, and it included big prawns with masala, fried chicken, fish curry and a slew of other mouth watering dishes. While I am glad that our PM received the best fine dining, I wonder how those who are less fortunate and cannot even get 3 meals a day would feel when they read some material. Given that there are many people, including children who go hungry on the hour, by the hour, we need to exercise some form of sensitivity?
There are so many elderly wheelchair bound Singaporeans who are selling tissues at the MRT stations, some of them with legs amputated.
Visit the Philippines and you will see street children begging for a few pesos to buy a meal. India also has their fair share of people who are living in poverty. The most powerful nation on earth – America has thousands of homeless citizens.
I hope that someday people who are financially secure will be able to find it in their hearts to offer some fine dining to those who long for some better meals so that we all learn to be gracious, caring and inclusive society. Will that day come?
Raymond Anthony Fernando