In just eight hours, Sudesna Roy Chowdhury built a website to translate medical instructions from English into Bengali.
The young trainee doctor, who had no expertise in this field, worked nonstop to ensure frontline healthcare workers could use the site to exchange key information.
She decided to launch it to meet the increasing need for interpreters and translators as the number of migrant workers infected with COVID-19 in Singapore rose.
Chowdhury, a 24-year-old Singaporean, said: “Community members from multiple language groups have also stepped forward to create their own versions (of the site), including those in Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and Telugu. Many more are in the pipeline.”
Morale has improved among Singaporeans, although they are still affected by the health crisis and much work remains to be done, she added.
One email she received stated: “Your (website) will save lives. … On behalf of Singapore, thank you.”
Since the city-state reported its first COVID-19 infection on Jan 23, more initiatives such as Chowdhury’s have been launched. They target different sectors of society, including the underprivileged, the elderly, healthcare workers, food and beverage outlets, and, most recently, migrant workers.
Melissa Kwee, CEO of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre in Singapore, said, “Singapore has a strong track record of responding generously in times of crisis, but this outpouring of kindness has far exceeded our expectations.
“We have witnessed ordinary people stepping up to meet various emerging needs; from letters of encouragement and care for our tireless frontline workers, to packing and delivering food when there was a shortage of regular volunteers－many of them older Singaporeans with greater (health) risks－to long lines of people donating blood.”
Kwee pointed to increased examples of online donations and the emergence of virtual volunteering.
The NVPC manages a national giving platform, Giving.sg, which saw a record-high number of donations during the first nine days of last month after the 3 percent transaction fee was waived and Singaporeans received S$600 ($422) in a government handout..
In addition, donations in the first four months of this year reached more than S$22.5 million－the highest such figure since the site was launched in 2015.
The NVPC has also set up a portal, SG United Donations-in-Kind, to handle nonfinancial contributions to charities such as Club Rainbow Singapore and the Migrant Workers’ Centre.