18-year-old celebrates birthday with migrant workers

SINGAPORE – Throughout his teenage years, Mr Jaydon Larsson Dunning has involved some form of altruism on his birthday.

Last year, he ordered food from a social enterprise eatery that hires people with special needs. In 2019, his family spent a day at a shelter for street animals in Sri Lanka.

On Sunday evening (Aug 7), he celebrated his 18th birthday with a group of 12 migrant workers at Sakunthala’s Food Palace in Race Course Road.

The second-year veterinary technology student at Temasek Polytechnic was also joined by his mother and five friends and relatives, including his grandparents and his mother’s husband, who distributed Indian sweets to everyone.

Within minutes, the hosts and guests were taking wefies and introducing themselves.

All 12 migrant workers are from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and they work at Keppel Shipyard.

A while back, Mr Dunning’s mother, Ms Karen Juanita Letchman, came across an initiative by non-profit organization ItsRainingRaincoats which helps people organize and host meals for migrant workers.

The organization supports the needs of migrant workers here.

Ms Karen, 45, an admissions officer at an international school, was waiting for an opportunity to carry out the “Makan with Migrant Workers” initiative, and felt her son’s birthday would be a fitting event.

Mr. Dunning was initially uncertain about the event because he was used to having small and intimate gatherings on his birthday.

“But after my mum elaborated on what we’d be doing and why we’re doing it, I thought it would be a meaningful and cool experience for all.”

Ms Karen added that it is not challenging to get to know the migrant community better.

Mr Divagar, 28, who has been working in Singapore for six years, said this was the first time he was having a feast at a restaurant here. He added that many of his colleagues have not had a meal with residents in Singapore before.

“Because of Covid-19, I only started going out on days off six months ago. Before that, I stayed in my dorm and went to work. Today is my second time in Little India,” added Mr. Divagar, who goes by one name.

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