Photos courtesy of Qi Kai, Kevin and Victor from WSC Publicity and Publications Team
With the success of a movie screening night for the migrant workers in NTU and Transient Workers Count Too mid-2015, the Silent Builders decided to venture out of NTU to reach out to more migrant workers on a larger scale. This time, the team collaborated with Geylang Adventures to organise Backalley Fest, a food-cum-handicraft carnival for migrant workers in Geylang. With the aim of breaking down social barriers between the migrant workers and local community through arts and food, local youth participants and other residents in Geylang were invited to the event. Largely due to publicity and street invitations by volunteers, there was a larger than expected turnout for the event of more than 150 participants.
Another objective of the event was to debunk the myth of backalleys, typically thought as scary and dangerous, and showcase these in a different perspective as potentially fun-filled and creative spaces.
The migrant workers and local community enjoyed various booth activities such as:
- Backalley Art Jamming – a casual art jamming booth mainly led by Artify Studio where participants let their imaginations take hold as they created artworks.
- Backalley Farming – led by Foodscape Collective where participants were introduced to urban farming and learnt to plant edible seedlings and herbs that require low maintenance.
- Backalley For All – wooden blocks, screws and craft materials were provided to participants to design their own keychains. These could either be kept as a souvenir or donated to the needy children from WSC Friends of Children programme.
- Backalley Friends – A photo booth set up by Precious Moments for participants to take photos during the carnival. Additionally, a migrant mail booth was set up beside the photo booth and free free envelopes, writing and postage materials were provided so that they can write a letter to their families.
- Backalley Free Market – items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, clothes and snacks were packed and distributed for free to workers.
I am thankful of this rare opportunity to interact with the migrant workers. I used to think that they are scary and unapproachable. However, my experience today tells me otherwise. On the contrary, they are really sociable and amirable folks and I have made friends with many of them.
A local youth participant
About The Silent Builders
The team consists of two students from College of Science. Having returned from a semester exchange in June 2014, both students noticed that there was a lot of construction going around on campus and they decided they should do something to make these workers feel welcome in the school. Their first project was an on-campus appreciation event.