"To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist." - Robert Schumann
In these dreary pandemic times, Singaporean composer and Tamil singer-songwriter Shabir had a stroke of genius to bring joy to the lives of not one, but two of the people groups hardest hit by recent COVID restrictions in our society.
About a week ago from reporting, he partnered with migrant worker support groups to start WeEat — an initiative that aims to pool funds to bulk order food from 20 hawker stalls, and afterwards deliver them to migrant workers who have been staying in their dormitories since last year's implemented Circuit Breaker.
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Since then, many kind-hearted Singaporeans have chipped in and his campaign has reached its goal of raising $10,000, as reported by the official Ray Of Hope fundraising page.
The hawker stalls which benefitted from the initiative are largely located in business districts, where footfall has been light ever since work-from-home arrangements became the default for many companies.
Aside from providing targeted financial support to these stalls through the bulk orders, WeEat also aims to provide a publicity boost to them through its affiliated social media channels.
For the migrant workers, WeEat has provided them with the opportunity to taste local delicacies they might not have gotten to try as a result of strict dormitory requirements, as well as to learn more about the history behind these iconic dishes. To achieve the latter, WeEat collaborated with online platform 24asia.news to create a series of videos in the most commonly spoken tongue in Bangladesh - Bengali - to introduce the dishes to the migrant workers.
WeEat is currently spearheaded by the team from Shabir's music production house, Shabir Music Asia. They're also working together with COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition, a ground-up volunteer group that provides support and relief to migrant workers in the pandemic.
Aside from taking the lead on this generous social campaign, the singer-songwriter has also been gaining a considerable amount of traction in the Indian music scene recently.
On World Music Day (21 Jun), Shabir's single 'Aayizhai' was one of 14 indie songs selected to be broadcasted across the country on Fever FM, India's top radio station. It was the only Tamil song on the list and marked the first time a Singaporean artist was featured on the channel.
To find out how else you can support the WeEat initiative, as well as to check out some of the hawker stalls featured in the project, do stay tuned to the social media pages of the following organisers — Shabir, Shabir Music Asia and COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition.