The Ministry of Health has been providing daily updates regarding the number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore, and seeing the explosive numbers of the migrant workers testing positive leaves you with a feeling of dread. While frantic efforts are being taken to resolve the crisis by members of civil society and the government, a level of anxiety remains as you think of what these workers must be going through. It remains true that it is always the underprivileged socio-economic groups who bear the brunt of any disaster.
In order to assist the doctors and frontline workers treating the migrant workers in Singapore, Dr Sudesna Roy Chowdhury, a fresh graduate of NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, decided that something needed to be done to ease the communication barrier between the workers and the doctors. Furthermore, it had to be done immediately.
There were several requests for translation support from doctors, so Sudesna, with the help of her family, her siblings being doctors as well, sat through the night with the shared intent and resolve to help. Overnight, she created a website. The website had Bengali translations of various terms and phrases pertaining to COVID-19 and other common health related queries doctors and healthcare workers may have to communicate to their patients.
Close on heels of Sudesna setting up the website, Niranjana Krishna and her friends Aarthi Achuthappa, Shahera Safrin, Vaishnavi Naidu, and Sharanya, some of whom were secondary school friends of Sudesna, took to translating the site into Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. They received overwhelming support from forthcoming volunteers from across Singapore who were happy to chip in and assist with the translations. In the process they also collated a pool of dedicated volunteers, who have been supporting the team in helping various NGOs, hospitals and community initiatives with COVID-19 related translations.
Here is the link to the websites: https://linktr.ee/covid19translations
With the pandemic evolving daily, more information and updates are being continuously added to the sites. Also, the core team is working with doctors and NGOs working on the ground to ensure that the site is useful to the migrant workers themselves. They have thus included sections such as Mental Health and COVID-19 FAQ, and have infographics on topics such as Employment Rights, Government Regulations, Psychological Symptoms, and more. They also hope that these sites will be useful internationally as well, especially in regions where there is a high density of South Asian migrant workers.