Covid-19 has presented challenges for many, and many have risen to the occasion. Wendy Oon, a Senior Executive in our Strategy & Projects team, has been with Allen & Gledhill for 20 years. Over the years, she has participated actively in raising funds for various charities under our CSR initiatives with her talents in art and craft – from balloon sculpting to baking teddy biscuits.
In the beginning of May 2020, together with a friend, she sewed 300 masks to be distributed to migrant workers residing in dormitories. At the time, the situation in workers’ dormitories was starting to unfold and there was an urgency in supplying the residents with masks.
We interviewed Wendy to find out more:
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THIS NEED AND WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO TAKE ACTION?
“When the circuit breaker started, I had been sewing masks for my family. I took up sewing last year and it has become a hobby. One of our Partners knew about my passion for sewing, so when she received an appeal for help to sew face masks for migrant workers, she forwarded it to me. This was in April 2020. I was aware that there was a shortage of face masks in Singapore and had been wondering what I could do to help. So, when I received the appeal I was very excited and immediately reached out to the organiser and submitted the volunteer application form.
The appeal was from a clothing company who could provide cloth and materials but they did not have enough people sewing to come up with the masks fast enough, so they issued an appeal for help. Their target was to sew 300,000 masks. I had to respond. After all, I loved to sew, it was a test of my skills and what could be better than to be able to contribute and sew for a meaningful purpose.”
HOW MANY MASKS DID YOU HAVE TO SEW AND WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE?
“Each volunteer had to sew 300 masks in 10 days. The materials were delivered to me on Thursday, 30 April 2020. This was probably too much for me but I was determined to do it. As I was working from home, on the first day, I started sewing at 7 pm and managed to complete 17 masks at around 11.30 pm. But after 17 masks, my sewing machine broke down! What was I to do? I felt so helpless.
The next day, I decided to call my aunt to ask if I could borrow her sewing machine. She said she would give me her brand new sewing machine, I was overjoyed! I then called a friend to tell her what had happened and asked for help, and she offered to sew 150 masks. I was also so glad to have three days over the 1 May long weekend to make as many masks as possible. I sewed the remainder after 6pm on weekdays. Every night before I went to bed, I would count the number of masks I had completed, and it really made me happy to know that I was closer to the target with each passing day.
With the task divided between us, my friend and I completed sewing 300 masks within 7 days instead of 10! This made me realise the importance of teamwork, and of family and friends and how I was so blessed to have this support system.”
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN THE MASKS WERE PICKED UP TO BE DELIVERED TO THE MIGRANT WORKERS?
“The project organiser arranged for the finished masks to be delivered to the migrant workers. When they were picked up from me, I felt such a sense of relief and achievement. I was very satisfied, happy, and glad to be able to help with this project. I hope that my small contribution was in some way useful and what I sewed with my hands were accompanied by prayers for the migrant workers who are away from their family, friends and support systems. Thankfully, as we have heard, many of them are young and fit and did not suffer severely from Covid-19 but the whole situation is difficult.”
WERE YOU ABLE TO LEARN ANYTHING NEW THROUGH THIS EXPERIENCE?
“My sewing skills have definitely improved, but most importantly, I learnt that to be able to reach out to others is a blessing, and being able to count on family and friends is a blessing. It could not be a total coincidence that I took up sewing last year, and that my skills were then needed. I could not just turn away. I also did it in memory of my father who I miss immensely. He was called to be with the Lord this February very suddenly. I realised that I am still grieving but I am sure he would have wanted me to help others, and I am very glad I managed to, with the generosity and help of my aunt and my friend.”
As part of the firm’s commitment to support the fight against Covid-19, Rahmat Lim & Partners (our associate firm in Malaysia) donated two units of ventilators to the University Hospital/University Malaya Medical Centre to assist in supporting Covid-19 patients experiencing respiratory failure. This was made possible through the help of the family and friend of RL&P who collectively raised more than RM200,000 over a short period of five days.