Jan Recounts her Experience with Migrant Construction Workers in Singapore.
After reading this part of the Pope’s message. The thought immediately came to mind. What does “logic of the world” mean?
After reading up on it, I came across an explanation: “There are things in this world which are absolute truths. And there are things in this world that are absolutely impossible. Logic only allows you to deal with true or false values. And therefore, allows you to deal with things that are absolute truths and absolute impossibilities.”
Possible of Impossible?
So I asked myself: “Possible or impossible?”
- Is it possible to love the migrants?
- Or is it impossible to love the migrants?
I would like to share a deep and personal encounter I had with a group of migrant workers back when I was working at a construction company.
When I first worked at my previous company I was tasked to look into the welfare of the foreign workers or what we know today as construction workers.
I was employed as a Finance and HR Manager in that company. This was something that was not necessary in my scope of work to do. I was initially hesitant, as looking into their welfare meant that I had to be in close contact with the workers. Being the only woman, I was cautious and careful at first.
Bonding Over Recipes and Food.
But somehow slowly, I ended up having conversations and looking out for them like a mother. I developed close friendships with them. Bonding over food recipes and cooking. Some would even cook an extra portion of fried chicken wings for my nieces and nephews.
I was surprised by their willingness to be so open to me. They would even relate their family and monetary problems to me. Seeking advice, understanding and direction. We were so close that there were two of them who would call me ‘Mother’ or ‘Mummy’. I in turn called them my ‘Son’.
The Ultimate Test of Friendship.
A couple of years ago, two Bangladeshi’s one of whom is ‘My Son’ came to ask if I would be willing to sponsor their family to come on a holiday to Singapore for a month. My ex-boss, my colleagues were all not willing to by sponsors.
Seeing their eagerness to bring their family members to have a glimpse of their life in Singapore, I came forward and agreed to sponsor both families. Back then I remember the reaction of my family members. “Are you crazy?”, “What if they run away and never come back or refuse to go back?”, “How will you be responsible for them?”
I understood my family’s concerns. However, I was determined because of the trust I had in them. So, I signed off on the papers.
On hindsight, I’m glad to have sponsored the family. It not only made my friend really happy but I was privileged to have been part of their time here. I’m also grateful for this opportunity to respond to the Lord’s invitation to care for another. It has really opened up a part of me of which I’m more than capable of doing and that is to love my neighbour as myself.
Is It Possible to Rise Above The Logic Of The World?
The logic of the world tells us that it is impossible to love another because we should care for ourselves first. That we should protect ourselves.
However, through my experiences with the migrant construction workers in Singapore I feel that it is possible for all of us to show our love and concern.
We need to trust in God and have faith in Him. Life is not a straight road but one of many twists, ups, downs and bumps. But in spite of all of this, there is hope!
Just as Jesus said to His disciples: “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
Come friends, let us seek to understand and make room for each other. So that we may all be one in God’s family.
Jan Teng looks after the Skills Development Centre at ACMI. Her experience was first shared to colleagues and other member organisations at Agape Village on 13 September 2019. His sharing was inspired by the 5th point raised by the Holy Father “It’s Not Just About Migrants: It is About Putting The Last In First Place.”
This is the Fifth of a series of reflections on the 10 points raised by Pope Francis in his 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees Message.