Welfare for workers

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Student volunteers from NUSSU and NUS Community Service Club (CSC) carrying the donated t-shirts to the collection point to be picked up by the delivery van

15 June 2020

It was a typical catchup call with one of the migrant workers. Dean of Students (DOS), A/P Leong Ching came to learn that some of the guest students arrived at the Community Recovery Facility (CRF) @ NUS without sufficient clothing, and they had to live with only a few sets of clothing during their stay at Prince George’s Park Residences (PGPR).

In another discussion, NUS Students’ Sports Club members who knew about the plight of our guest students were planning for a donation drive of their own. They reached out to Office of Student Affairs (OSA) and proposed to donate their balance event t-shirt stock to the workers.

Combining the call for clothing donation from DOS and students’ offer to support the migrant workers’ cause, OSA saw the opportunity to link up the various student groups for the clothing donation drive.

Shaun Tan, Vice-President (Internal) of the NUSSU 41st EXCO, and his team approached different student bodies and enlisted them to contribute to this meaningful cause. Together with Sports Club, NUS Community Service Club (NUSCSC), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Club and Tembusu College responded to the call and stepped up to the task.

With the clearance from Vice Dean of Students A/P Ho Han Kiat, the team carried out their plans. A maximum of two representatives from each of the five clubs were allowed to return to campus and look into the logistics. With this, a lean team of eight students was formed to coordinate the donation of 2,000 t-shirts for the workers.

Pulling off this donation drive was no easy feat. They had to consider the manpower and time constraints. It was a race against time as students had to conduct stock takes, re-pack the t-shirts into boxes and deliver them to the respective collection points which would be picked up by the delivery driver – all in a short span of three hours.

Student volunteers from Tembusu College (left) and NUS Students’ Sports Club (right) transporting the t-shirts for donation to the collection point.

On top of these constraints, students had to abide with the University’s safety and health precautions in view of COVID-19. A seemed to be ‘normal’ for a regular pick-up and delivery turned out to be somewhat challenging. Due to the zoning of the NUS Kent Ridge campus, the pick-up schedule had to be carefully orchestrated as the clubs had different collection points.

“What was estimated to be a single trip delivery turned out to be three trips due to the overwhelming donations!” said Shaun.

Although it was back-breaking work for these student-volunteers, they were full of motivation and smiles. All of them were willing to go the extra-mile, even if the physical mile was to carry the boxes of clothing to the delivery van.

Boxes of t-shirts waiting to be sorted according to floor and rooms. 

Lawrenz Sim, Division Head of Sports and Student Wellness at OSA saw through the herculean task of delivering all 2,000 t-shirts to the guest students.

He said: “It was really NUS in harmony, teamwork at its best. From NUSSU and Sports Club championing the donation across various student bodies, to OSA handling the campus-wide collection and delivery from multiple locations and finally passing the baton to NUS Conference & Events (CEU) colleagues who sorted and also coordinated the door-to-door delivery of these items.”

NUS CEU staff going through a sea of boxes of donated t-shirts

Shaun Tan remarked: “To some of us, having to shift so many boxes may make them feel weariness and dread, but I felt a lot of joy and knowing the purpose of my actions made me feel that my effort was worthwhile.”

He added that it was heartening and fulfilling to see the NUS community come together with a common purpose to support the greater community and hopes that this small action by his team could go a longer way to help those who need it.

"It was really NUS in harmony, teamwork at its best" - Lawrenz Sim

Left: Guest students at CRF@NUS received NUS students’ t-shirt donations and wore them proudly for their daily morning workout.

Right: Guest students expressed their thanks over WhatsApp messages to NUS staff who were coordinating the daily exercise regime to ensure workers have adequate health and wellness care.


Writer: Low Jia Hui, Undergraduate, CNM
Editor: Elissa Chia