Sisters and Brothers, all

Encourage one another and build one another up ~ 1 Thess 5:11

Sisters and Brothers, all
“Brothers, thank you for coming!” That was how Nervin Pillai, Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) Senior Specialist, welcomed his cohort of 15 MWC Ambassadors to prep them for the first IT Literacy workshop run by our JRS Migrant Outreach team.

Catching that lovely warm welcome was a wonderful reminder of how, when we share the Fratelli Tutti vision of a global family, a world without borders, not being bothered by where a person was born or lives, we can then more easily stop referring to migrant workers as “foreign” workers and instead, start addressing them as our “sisters” and “brothers”.

Who were these “brothers” and “sisters” at MWC? As Ambassadors, not only were they peer support leaders for fellow migrant workers, especially the newly arrived ones, but having had training in basic employment rights, they were also the go-to guys who could help their peers address employment issues early.

First time collaboration JRS-MWC
Mary Lee, spearheading this, our first JRS collaboration with MWC, said it was gratifying to see how MWC was very supportive of our IT Literacy programme — overseeing the logistics, providing suitable infrastructure for a conducive learning environment, and gathering an enthusiastic and committed cohort of learners through their effective publicity of the programme.

JRS Singapore ED, Gordon Pinto, presenting to the MW Ambassadors.
The cohort of MWC Ambassadors who attended the IT Literacy workshop.

As for MWC, Nervin said he was immensely grateful to the JRS team for dedicating time and expertise to run such a programme, as he was of the view that IT skills and knowledge of Microsoft applications are invaluable. He was hopeful that the training would help empower the MWC Ambassadors, significantly enhancing their career prospects, and contributing to success at their workplace.

Our IT Literacy Programme
Conducted over five sessions on Sunday afternoons (August – November 2023), the programme on Microsoft basics in Excel and Word, also incorporated brief sessions on Financial Literacy and Cybersecurity. The trainers were Andros, Jocelyn and Mary, supported by different groups of facilitators for each session, including Charmaine, Corina, Elaine, Esperanza, Gabrielle, Gordon, Karen Singarayar, Lucas, and Veronica.

There was excitement in the air when we announced, at the outset, that there would be an assessment at the final workshop to check understanding of the lessons. Perhaps the thought of an assessment was additional impetus to the already highly motivated learners. As it turned out, more than half scored full marks, while the lowest score was still a high 87%, which meant most got distinctions and everyone else A’s. But of course, we know grades are not everything!

What were the real learning points, the memorable takeaways? For our learners, trainers and first-time/newish facilitators?
Learners’ detailed feedback Akan Datang! MWC is planning to share the participants’ feedback with JRS at the MWC certificate presentation ceremony in March! In the meantime, here are excerpts from a few of the learners’ bite-sized feedback and Nervin’s own thoughts:

The facilitators’ patience and engaging interactions created a nurturing environment, making it easier for our Ambassadors to grasp these essential skills. JRS support is truly appreciated and deeply cherished.

~ Nervin Pillai, Migrant Workers’ Centre Senior Specialist

I learnt many new things about IT and Excel.
~ Selvarasu Senthil

I now have basic skills in IT, Excel, Word.
~ Saw Lar Shu Phuang

Thanks to IT course I am now feeling confident to use Excel and Word. ~ Mia Mohd Arif

Happy I did IT course. Understand IT, Excel, Word, and internet safety now. Can be a better worker in my company.
~ Murugesan Nepolian

Above all, I was very encouraged by their enthusiasm to learn, and their commitment to the programme. I also liked how they readily brought out their own stories to share with their course mates, for example, when I was running the session on Financial Literacy, highlighting the importance of a disciplined approach to savings and warning of the pitfalls of borrowing from illegal sources, I was impressed that the more financially savvy ones offered advice to their peers based on their personal experiences.
~ Mary

MWC is a good partner to collaborate with: they are organized, and run a pretty tight ship. On the other hand, while our trainers had prepared a lot of good content for the lessons, I felt there wasn’t sufficient hands-on practice time. It’s easier to recall the lessons taught when there’s more practice. ~ Karen S

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As a newer volunteer on the team, seeing first-hand the participants in action, I realised it is a myth that all migrant workers are “unskilled”. While some may seem fairly well-versed in IT skills, others worked hard to pick up the skill, but many were hungry to upgrade their skills. In my opinion, it’s all about providing opportunities. The participants’ enthusiasm to learn and help one another was indeed heartening to see. I also learned a lot from how the JRS facilitators cheerfully interacted and encouraged the participants. ~ Veronica

Conducting Excel training was very fulfilling for me, especially when I witnessed the learners’ joy as they discovered the power and versatility of Excel. The real reward was in watching how they progressed from basic spreadsheet tasks to more advanced calculations. Truly, it has been both an honour and privilege to use my IT skills and knowledge to serve our brothers.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
~ 1 Peter 4:10

It would be great though, if a pre-training needs assessment could be done, so as to better understand participants’ roles, responsibilities, and specific Excel requirements. In that way, more flexibility could be built into the pace of training to cater to their diverse skill levels and prior experiences with Excel. 
~ Andros

It was extremely heartwarming to observe the building of camaraderie amongst the migrant workers. At the initial MWC organised post-workshop fellowship lunch, when they were still new to each other, I was delighted to watch them, after just a bit of nudging from us, spontaneously and generously sharing with one another work and life advice, and rather quickly building their supportive network. I hope they continue to support each other in the future. ~ Gabrielle

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It’s a very good programme that brought us and our migrant brothers together. I think this was what I liked most about it. ~ Charmaine

Invitation to Encounter, Accompany
Sisters and brothers all, perhaps it’s time to answer the call for an encounter with our migrant brothers, to accompany them on a learning journey, yes even learning together? Email us [email protected]