'Photo studio' for migrant workers recognised at Kindness Carnival
When Miss Harriet Koh greeted a migrant worker who was trimming plants in Hong Lim Park, he thanked her profusely, saying he often felt he was invisible here.
That encounter in 2014 touched the photographer, and last December, she set up a pop-up studio for a day in Little India to take free portraits of Indian and Bangladeshi migrant workers.
The initiative, dubbed Portrait for Migrant Workers, attracted 120 migrant workers, who each received two photo prints of their portraits.
Said Miss Koh: "I wanted to give them a chance to feel special... with something tangible to keep for memory's sake or send home to their family."
The initiative was one of the 10 ground-up movements which was recognised during the Kindness Carnival on Saturday, launched in conjunction with Kindness Day SG.
Organised by the Singapore Kindness Movement, the inaugural carnival at OCBC Square commemorated initiatives which promoted kindness and graciousness in society.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu was present to induct the ground-up movements into the Kindred Spirit Circle, which seeks to affirm individuals and groups dedicated to spreading kindness within their community.
Said Miss Koh: "To be recognised for our simple initiative shows that kindness doesn't have to be elaborate to be meaningful."
She chose an alley in Little India with colourful walls and together with 20 volunteers, set up studio lights, a laptop and a printer to create the studio.
Said Miss Koh: "When we first approached them, the workers were apprehensive but curious, and after their portraits were taken, they started calling their friends over.
"Some even wanted to change into nicer clothes or shower before having their photos taken."
"I hope it brought a little happiness for the workers and made them feel welcome in Singapore," she added.
Cyclove was another initiative which was recognised during the Kindness carnival.
Led by 20 pre-service teachers from the National Institute of Education in partnership with cycling component maker Shimano, Cyclove aims to teach migrant workers to repair bicycles.
Project leader Nicholas Tan, 25, said his team was inspired to start the initiative after interacting with numerous migrant workers who said they wanted to learn a skill to upgrade themselves.
He said: "After learning that cycling was a common mode of transport for workers, we decided to equip them with a skill which is useful in their daily lives."
Bike repair workshops and cycling cruises to Gardens By The Bay were held during the carnival for 50 migrant workers .