Mr Sharif Pens Hardship Faced Working By In S’pore

With around 280,000 foreign construction workers here in Singapore, most Singaporeans may be used to the sight of migrant construction workers toiling under the sweltering heat.

Despite this, many are not be aware of the hardships that these migrant workers have to go through in their journey away from home.

One such worker from Bangladesh, Mr Md Sharif Uddin, penned the pains of coming to and working in Singapore in book titled Stranger to Myself.

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Made just $18 per day in 2008

Mr Sharif, now 40, came to Singapore in 2008 after his business venture into the book industry failed back home.

In making the journey south, Mr Sharif left behind his newly-wedded wife who was 3-months pregnant then.

Mr Sharif’s first job in Singapore paid a measly $18 per day, most of which were remitted back to his family.

Mr Sharif also attended night classes, in order to obtain qualifications which allows him to find better-paying jobs.

As of 2018, Sharif’s new job as a safety supervisor earns him around $60 a day.

But spending most of 11 years away from one’s family takes a toll on anyone, and Mr Sharif is no exception. He wrote in his memoir,

Sometimes I feel what it means to be lonely in the crowd of migrants, feeling the burden of age though I am relatively young. Maybe my exile from home and nation is a punishment for past sins.

And here’s a heartfelt poem that he penned about his ‘exile’.

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S’poreans do not understand foreign workers well

While grateful for his opportunity here, Mr Sharif claims that Singaporeans, as well as those back home, do not understand them well, in particular, the hardships that they went through.

In his words,

Some Singaporeans don’t understand our sacrifices, feelings and problems.

Mr Sharif also shared that his countrymen are often of the impression that life is posh away from home. But this, at least to him, is a huge misconception.

He wrote,

People [back home] think that we live a luxurious life in a foreign land where we earn a lot. Even after 11 years here I don’t enjoy life, I am always struggling.

Won best non-fiction award

Mr Sharif’s memoir was launched back in 2017 and has since sold more than 700 copies. The book also won the best non-fiction award the Singapore Book Awards in 2018.

The 176-page book is available for $18.60 on localbook.sg but appears to be sold out at the moment.

We hope Singaporeans and many around the world will be touched by Mr Sharif’s diary entries and will gain a better understanding of the difficulties faced by migrant workers working in a place far from home.

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