The “Respect Our Food Rights” Campaign was launched by CARE on the 11th of June, 2015, based on collaborative research conducted with an advisory board of Bangladeshi migrant construction workers and HealthServe, an NGO that serves the health needs of migrant workers. The ongoing campaign was designed and co-constructed by an advisory board of Bangladeshi construction workers. The central theme of the campaign is to shed light and raise awareness regarding access to decent and quality food for migrant construction workers (MCWs) in Singapore, and it generated considerable media coverage in The Straits Times, Today Paper, and online blogs.
Sixty five MCWs collaborated with a research team by lending their voices to tell stories of poor quality food being provided to them by catering companies. A survey, conducted with 500 Bangladeshi workers, documented the state of inaccess to quality, hygienic and health food experienced by the workers. Survey responses also point toward the potential solutions desired by the workers, including: Greater monitoring and enforcement of food safety standards for male migrant workers. Particularly important are the monitoring and evaluation of the quality of food delivered by caterers.
The effort included a mass media campaign comprising bus and MRT adverts, TVC ads, a dedicated website, social media outreach and a 12-minute long documentary film, “Respect Our Food Rights”, featuring the lives and stories of Bangladeshi migrant construction workers living in Singapore. These are stories of disappointment, expectation and aspiration. Co-constructed by the voices of the MCWs, the documentary ends by encouraging Singaporeans to advocate for better food access for the invisible backbone of the Singaporean construction sector.
The campaign is aimed at raising awareness on the specific issues of poor food quality faced by MCWs employed in Singapore. Guided by the culture-centered approach (CCA) pioneered by Prof. Mohan Dutta, the workers were central to the decision making processes in framing core messages and helping to design the above mentioned collaterals.
This is CARE’s second ethnographic documentary film which follows the success of the “Respect Our Rights” campaign co-created in collaboration with Foreign Domestic Workers: www.respectfdwrights.com Both projects are guided by key principles of the CCA method, where subaltern communities are their own problem configurators and solution providers. CARE, in partnership with HealthServe, has helped to co-create environments where the migrant construction workers can come together to develop solutions to problems during their employment stints in Singapore.