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SINGAPORE SKYLINE. Migrant worker Natarajan Pandiarajan, right, enjoys the view on board the Singapore Flyer attraction in Singapore on March 7, 2021. Pandiarajan is among at least 20,000 migrant workers being treated to rides by members of the public and businesses. Migrant workers are getting a bird’s eye view of Singapore, with the public’s help. (AP Photo/Annabelle Liang)

From The Asian Reporter, V31, #4 (April 5, 2021), page 4.

One Good Thing: A Singapore skyline view for migrant workers

By Annabelle Liang

The Associated Press

SINGAPORE — The capsules of the Ferris wheel in Singapore were peppered with rain.

Not great for a bird’s eye view of the city. But the migrant workers riding the Singapore Flyer attraction did not mind.

They were a fraction of at least 20,000 workers getting a treat, from members of the public and businesses.

The ItsRainingRaincoats initiative began calling for tickets to be donated to the workers in January.

A volunteer felt it was a meaningful way to use tourism vouchers from the government, founder Dipa Swaminathan said.

Singapore citizens age 18 and older have received 100 Singapore dollars ($74.30) in vouchers. They were to spend it on attractions, hotels, and tours — businesses that have lost income during the coronavirus pandemic.

Swaminathan’s group worked with the Ferris wheel operator and a booking platform to get tickets routed to the foreign workers.

"There are so many people who appreciate the contributions workers have made to Singapore and this is their chance to give back," Swaminathan said.

"There’s a lot of joy in giving. I think that’s what causes the public … to support us in these kinds of endeavors," she told The Associated Press.

The group will keep organizing rides as long as tickets stream in.

A ticket, which includes entrance to an interactive display, costs 35 Singapore dollars ($26). There are currently enough for 20,000 workers.

That is 2% of the 700,000 to 800,000 who live in Singapore, Swaminathan estimates.

She said the "contained" nature of the Ferris wheel makes it a good fit.

Volunteers reminded the riders to keep their masks on and keep a one-meter distance during a recent visit.

Ganesan Thivagar visited with his dormitory mates. They waited while rides were briefly halted for bad weather.

When it was time to board, the 540-foot-high view was spotty.

The 34-year-old was unfazed. He marvelled at how Singapore had changed since he arrived 14 years ago.

He quickly got to taking photographs for his family in India’s Tamil Nadu state.

"I am happy to enjoy the trip and enjoy together with my friends. Thanks to Singapore (I get to) come here," Thivagar said.

Workers like Thivagar have had a rough time, as their dormitories were early hotspots for coronavirus infections.

Migrant workers have accounted for most of Singapore’s 60,000 reported cases.

Although the situation is under control, workers have tighter movement restrictions than the general population. These are being eased by authorities.

Natarajan Pandiarajan, 29, said the restrictions were "really difficult," so he was grateful for breathers like his recent ride. "Inside many feelings I also have. But this time now, coming on, happiness," he said.

"One Good Thing" is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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