Interview with Siva, our colleague currently in quarantine under the isolated dormitory.
Siva at one of Sunseap's Solar PV projects (taken in 2019).
By Natalie Tham
April 9, 2020
Last week, the Government announced that some of the foreign worker dormitories in Singapore would be gazetted as isolation areas, due to a spike in COVID-19 infections in dormitories. At the moment, thousands of migrant workers are being quarantined and confined to their dorms. We spoke with Siva, one of our colleagues affected by this quarantine, over Whatsapp to find out more about how he's doing, to give us a little insight into the current situation for many of Singapore's workers.
Siva is a senior site technician and site supervisor under Maintenance (O&M). He has been with Sunseap for 6 years. Although he did express some worry from when the situation first evolved, he still appeared optimistic when I spoke to him.
Q: Hey Siva, could I ask you a few questions regarding the situation in the dormitories?
Q: How did you and your friends feel when you first heard the news? Were there any huge concerns that you had?
A: We felt insecure as we did not know what was going to happen to us. All of us worried about our family members back home and thought of how to handle the situation.
Q: Do you and your friends call your families every day?
A: Yes, we call them twice a day. They ask so many questions! We say one thing only; our company & the Government takes care of everyone. In the past two days our family members panicked, but now they are okay.
Q: That's good to hear Siva. Could I know how are the living conditions in your dorm? (how many people are in a room, how big is the room, are the rooms and the toilet clean, etc)
A: Our dormitory is like a HDB block. There are 12 people living in each room. In each room, there are 2 toilets, 2 shower rooms, 1 kitchen, and 1 living room. We clean the toilets twice a day and do housekeeping.
Q: Did the cleaning of toilets start after the quarantine was imposed?
A: No. We have always had our own duty roster which we follow
Q: I see. How do you and your friends pass time everyday now since you're not working?
A: Haha. Very difficult question! The dormitory management provided free Wi-Fi. Most of our colleagues watch movies and play games. Others cook & exercise.
Q: Ah, okay. What about meals? Does the management provide 3 meals daily?
A: Yes. They provide 3 meals a day. In the morning we have noodles & fried rice. In the afternoon and at night we have rice, veggies & meat.
Q: Thank you for taking the time to share with us Siva. Do you have a message you'd like to share with everyone?
A: Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. I wish everyone safety and health.
It is a difficult time for everyone, but especially so for our indispensable foreign colleagues in Singapore, who worry about the health of their loved ones back home, their friends and themselves. By contrast, most of us have the means to maintain physical distance from family and friends. In hindsight, being able to take the necessary precautions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is a matter of privilege, but it shouldn't have to be.
Currently, Sunseap is working with the necessary government agencies and the dormitory to find out more about what we can do for our foreign colleagues affected by the quarantine. We are seeking to help them feel safe and keep their spirits high.
The health of all depends on every one of us. Let us continue being socially responsible, stay indoors unless absolutely necessary, and look out for the people around us. Altogether, our collective efforts will help individuals like you, me, and Siva return to our daily lives quicker.
Content has been edited for clarity