Powerfully Different

For one of our current CARE projects, I’ve been partnering with an NGO in Singapore working to challenge structural inequalities Foreign Domestic Workers in Singapore face, particularly regarding access to living a healthy life both mentally and physically as migrant workers. At first, all I knew about them (the domestic helpers) was that they were somehow different from me. But what kind of different?

Reviews of Sandcastle and Invisible Cities (Films for Social Change)

Screening: February 25 and 27, 2013, 1-3.30pm Venue: CIT Auditorium Films: Sandcastle (Boo Jun Feng) and Invisible City (Tan Pin Pin) “Film is extremely flammable and it reacts on all kinds of fumes that are extremely combustible.” – Tan Pin Pin during the post-screening panel.


After watching Sandcastle by Boo Junfeng and Invisible Cities by Tan Pin Pin, I left the auditorium with many unanswered questions. The films were shown as part of the Films for Social Change series organised by the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), a CNM affiliate organisation that specialises in health communication research. For me, both directors certainly achieved their goal of challenging the audience to question and go beyond what was presented at the literal level of their works.


I felt many emotions while listening to my interviewee recount tale after tale of evil employees. I felt shock. I felt disgust. I felt angry. I felt sad. But as she ran through the sordid details of how an employer raped her, I just felt stupid. I felt stupid not being there to pull that bastard off her. I felt stupid that my country would allow such assholes to run free. I felt stupid that the authorities were working so slowly and ineffectually. I felt stupid that after all this, all she wanted was to work so she could send money home to pay for father’s medical bills, and I had no way to help her. I felt so stupid that no matter how much sympathy or pity or fury I felt, all I could do was hear her out. All I could was pull horrified or sad faces as the tears rolled down her face. I couldn’t even bring myself to ask her stupid questions like, “What does health mean to you?”