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Comforting voices on air at quarantine facility

A radio program aimed to spread love and hope through the broadcasting of music, stories and experience sharing was launched by Tzu Chi Singapore at a temporary facility that shelters returning workers from China.

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(Photo by Wong Twee Hee) 

"We learned more about the epidemic situation through the broadcasting programme. We would love to listen to more songs, that would be helpful to alleviate everybody's mood," shared Mr. Xue from Jiangsu Province, China, after completing the 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) at the dormitory. 

As the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, the Singapore government has strengthened its border control, requiring pass holders to comply with the 14-day stay home notice upon returning to the lion city. Besides limiting the number of people returning to Singapore in a day, the government has also worked with dormitory operators to house these foreign workers.

In view of a need to make the quarantine easier for these foreign workers, Mr. Oh, a dormitory operator had met with Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) to jointly launch a Temporary Settlement Programme for Returning Workers in February 2020.

The temporary facility set up by the dormitory operator and Tzu Chi Singapore was helpful to the returning workers. Although each dorm was shared by 14 people, there was still ample space in the room. Xue, the returning worker from China did not have a hard time serving his Stay Home Notice as he managed to get along quite well with the rest of the Chinese workers in the same room and found the living condition and meal arrangement to be satisfactory.     

"Body temperature was taken throughout the journey back to Singapore to monitor our physical condition," shared Mr. Yuan from Xinyang, Henan as he recalled his journey from China to Singapore. He also said that proper arrangements have been made by his employer before he arrived at the dormitory. Confident in the epidemic preventive measures carried out by the China government and Singapore government, he said that he is keeping in touch with his family members in China every day and so he is not troubled by the situation.

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Some Chinese foreign workers are unable to serve their Stay Home Notice at their rented place. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)

Calming minds with positive media

As soon as the programme was initiated, Tzu Chi volunteers were already at the dormitory pasting Jing Si Aphorism posters, setting up bookshelves before the workers arrived with the hope of bringing forth positive energy.  Care packages were distributed to the foreign workers when they arrived to shower them with warmth and care. The team also took a step further by planning a series of radio broadcasting programmes to create a calming ambience for the foreign workers in the dormitory.

Upon receiving the broadcasting assignment, Tzu Chi staff, Liew Chek Yin revealed that she and her team had a brainstorming session to come up with the programme outline. They also invited interested community volunteers, Tzu Chi Teenage Group as well as the Youth Group to participate in this task. Although most of them have no experience in broadcasting, everyone was happy to assist and contribute creative ideas.

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Volunteers pasting Jing Si Aphorisms on the wall of a dormitory. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)

Some simple audio equipment was also installed by the dormitory operator for better broadcasting quality. The pre-recorded programmes which includes the sharing of Jing Si Aphorisms and ‘Master Tells Stories’ were broadcasted from 11am to 2.30pm during lunch break and after taking into consideration the rest time of the occupants.

There was also a live broadcast from 4pm to 6pm every weekend that covers updates on COVID-19 and sharing from Tzu Chi volunteers. The hosts shared about charity, medical missions, international disaster relief, environmental protection with the occupants on air. A few home visits volunteers, environmental protection volunteers and members of the Tzu Chi Singapore executive team were also invited to share their life experiences, and the path of their personal learning and growth, with the hope of inspiring kindness and love to all.

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Despite having no experience in broadcasting, the volunteers do their best to broadcast messages of love and positivity to the dormitory occupants. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)

Inspiring great love and respect for all

"My heart is connected with theirs, and I hope they can lead a normal life," said Zhou Haiyan, a Tzu Chi volunteer from China whom agreed to host the live broadcast programme without any hesitation. She decided to use the theme of "time, space, and peoples’ relation" to encourage all migrant workers in the temporary facility who are from different parts of China to interact and care for each other.

After completing the 14 days Stay Home Notice, the foreign workers were visited by members of the Tzu Chi Singapore Entrepreneurs Association where volunteers shared briefly on the history of Tzu Chi’s compassionate relief missions and the spirit behind the “Bamboo Coin Bank Era”, as well as the charity work carried out by Tzu Chi volunteers in mainland China during this epidemic.  The foreign workers were also invited to join in this path of Great Love.  Before the workers left the temporary facility, a care package and a bamboo coin bank were handed out to them as a blessing.  They were encouraged to drop small donations into the bamboo coin bank every day to cultivate blessings and help others.

Entrepreneur volunteer coordinator, Sim Sem Peng who visited the dormitory every day, said "I hope to interact with the workers to show them care like that of a family member. I think it is worth it,” Sim believes that what he is doing is something meaningful as it is not easy for these workers who left their home and are also worried about their family members back home.

Master Cheng Yen advised us that the new coronavirus is a lesson from nature, reminding human to repent, be grateful and have respect for all beings. Whilst urging everyone to take proper precautionary measures when helping others, she also said that the best way to prevent the disease from spreading is to adopt a vegetarian diet.

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Entrepreneur volunteer Sim Sem Peng giving a briefing about Tzu Chi at the temporary facility. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)

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