Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Bowl of Rice - Home

The first cycle of A Bowl of Rice was completed last Friday, 27 June.

"On Sunday, I went to a gallery to see an exhibition. The rice used was 250kg and had 9 pieces of gold in the center. At first, the drawing was small. The artist used a rice bowl to make the patterns. Then it (the drawing) grew bigger day by day and covered the floor. It looks like a carpet.

After I left, I heard that some workers came and cleaned. The rice was packed and poor people took them. I like this exhibition because it helps poor people. But I think the rice will be dirty because it is on the floor."

response to A Bowl of Rice by Yang Seo Yeon, 10 (below)

Indeed, 8 women from H.O.M.E came to assist us in the clearing of the rice. From there, the rice has been distributed to H.O.M.E and Catholic Welfare Service Centre.

H.O.M.E is an independent organization started by an incredible lady, Bridget, and houses 120 women who are migrant domestic workers. Most of them are either abused by their employers or forced to work illegally in shops and were caught by the police. All are awaiting police cases, which take 3 to 6 months, even up to a year.

As I spoke to Bridget, she expressed great enthusiasm to bring the women down to be part of A Bowl of Rice. One concern that she has is that these women have gone through traumatic periods, and positive activities are important to help them take their minds off their misfortune, not to mention recover their trust and confidence in people. The result is a very empowering session where the women cleared the rice, and Zai played drums.

Despite running the shelter for 4 years, Bridget still gets questioned by her friends. “Why are you not helping Singaporeans, but helping foreigners?” To that question, she smiles and responded “It’s almost like we are living in the dark ages... For Singaporeans, there are already organisations helping them, and they have their families with them. These migrant workers… they have nobody here and no where to go to.”

As we got to know more about H.O.M.E, Zai and I decided to pay the centre a visit. It confounded us that a humble three-storey house could shelter 120 women. All in all, it requires about SGD 40,000 to run H.O.M.E per month, not including the men’s shelter which is now under renovation. Despite the fact the Ministry of Manpower refers migrant workers to H.O.M.E for shelter, the organization does not get any governmental funding. Neither does the society at large know about the existence of this organization.

When we were at the centre, the ladies choir sang their hearts out to us and when we asked if they would like to perform in the gallery this coming Sunday (6 July) everybody shouted “Yes!” Bridget emphasised that having such an event gives them something to look forward to, and put aside their troubles for a brief moment. Right now, I believe some of them are already practicing their traditional harvest songs and dance in the centre.

Hence, we to appeal you and your friends to come to the exhibition with a humble rice contribution.
Sunday (6 July) , 2.30pm
Sculpture Square
along Waterloo Street/Middle Road (Map)

Your presence is not only to witness the second cycle of the artwork, but also lend your spiritual and, or, financial support, to all these ladies - strong women who took risks to travel around the world to support their own families, while taking care of ours.

Note: Zai is working in the gallery everyday to complete the drawing. After the 2nd drawing is cleared, he will continue working on the 3rd drawing till 13 July. Gallery opening hours are 11am-6pm

Video Credits: Vincent Yap, Zai Kuning
Photo Credits: Vivian Lee, Lin Shiyun


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