A harmony meal for Bangladeshi migrants indeed

Staff Correspondent | Update:

Marlene Chua, 28 (extreme right) and her sister with their guests on 17 June. Photo source: CNA InsiderAt least eight families of Singapore hosted Iftar or dinner for the Bangladeshi migrant workers, showing a gesture that is considered unprecedented.

The hosts prepared the meal and invited the workers who are building Singapore’s roads and high-rises, reports CNA.

The Singapore families were said to have been inspired by a video posted by Singapore-based Television channel CNA Insider about life of a Muslim Bangladeshi worker during Ramadan or the month of fasting.

The hosts ranged from Singaporeans of Bangladeshi descent to non-Muslims who catered especially for their guests’ halal diet, said the report.

“When we saw the video feature by CNA insider, it really struck a chord with us,” Tayef Quader, 30, was quoted to have said.

Bangladeshi decent Tayef and his wife Farhana Hossain - who work at a local university -- cooked dishes such as chicken biryani and beef tripe curry and invited two guests.

“We have never had the opportunity to show them our appreciation and host them at our own home, so we jumped at it. Sharing our meal during this holy month is an even greater blessing,” Tayef told the media outlet.

Among the Singaporean hosts were Marlene Chua, 28, a civil servant and Nicholas Yeo, 31, who made sure their guests were received with utmost cordiality, the report said.

“My wife, friends and I just set out to treat them like we would anyone else, and it was a great chance to get to know them better,” Nicholas was quoted to have said.

Overwhelmed by the friendly gestures from the Singaporean hosts, 32-year-old Shariful Islam was said to have been emotional. A father of an eight-year-old daughter named Fatimah, he was reminiscent of his days she spent with his family back homemany times that night.

“I’m missing my mother, my wife, and my daughter Fatimah, I so miss, so miss,” he told CNA Insider, eyes welling up.

The hosts said they learnt more about the struggles that migrant workers face in Singapore - but also found admiration for the volunteer work the men did, and “their dedication to improve themselves in spite of the limited free time they have”.

To facilitate the home visits at short notice, CNA Insider tied up with two organisations named SDI Academy and the IYC, the latter aims to involve different groups - like migrant workers and non-Muslims - in the Eid celebrations to shatter the people’s negative stereotypes of each other.

IYC co-founder Noor Mastura said she hopes participants would become ambassadors to their own communities by this kind of interactions.

Amazed by the experience, one of the hosts, Yeo said, she would be glad to do this “on an annual or even more regular basis” and urged more Singaporeans to reach out and invite migrant workers to a meal.

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