“Where I Know I’m Home” is a video series that captures the warmth between locals and foreigners in Singapore
Maheswaran Shanmugam and Thomas Franks, born in India and the United States respectively, hail from small towns on opposite ends of the earth.
But their paths crossed in Singapore, sparking an unlikely friendship between two men who supported one another as they tried to forge their lives here. “He’s a newcomer in Singapore and I’m also a newcomer,” said Mahes, a truck driver, who meets Thomas for prata lunches where they both eat with their hands.
Thomas, an entrepreneur, agreed: “We help each other feel a little bit more at home.”
Their story, which was captured in the video series, “Where I Know I’m Home” on the Singapore Kindness Movement’s Facebook page, resonated with the public. It garnered over 3,500 Likes and 1,200 shares, as well as many positive comments.
“We can all be friends if we just look at each other as human. Friendship does not look for race or color or religion but respect for each other is the answer,” wrote Marie Johnson, whose comment on the video received more than 90 Likes.
Giving and receiving
Mahes and Thomas’ story was one of three videos demonstrating the bonds and friendships that thrive in Singapore. These videos, which were supported by the National Integration Council’s Community Integration Fund (CIF), showed how foreigners in Singapore found communities that supported them when they needed help.
Like Mahes and Thomas, Teh-Hsin found a support system in Singapore, which helped him cope when his 25-year marriage ended.
“My friend invited me to meet a group of people who were very supportive. They helped me find clarity, and eventually I overcame some of the issues I was struggling with,” said Teh-Hsin.
The experience made him eager to help others in Singapore. After he remarried, he and his wife began fostering an eight-month-old girl who needed a home. The girl is now three.
“Once we found room in our heart to do this, finding space in our house was not an issue at all,” said Teh-Hsin.
Married couple Andrew and Karen Low, who became Singaporeans in 2012, have also found ways to reach out to society. Karen does home visits to the elderly, while Andrew runs a social enterprise for students to inspire them to serve the community.
“Having lived here for 26 years, Singapore has been good to me. And I just want to give back,” said Andrew.
The videos were well-received, with viewers chiming in with support and kind thoughts for the people featured. They also encouraged others to look beyond cultural differences, and to see how these differences could enrich our lives.
Yeoh Eng Yew, who commented on Teh-Hsin’s video, said: “Very touching story. A foreign born person making his home in SG and doing good deeds, protecting and loving SG in his own way. We should acknowledge good Singaporeans no matter where they come from. Because we serve our nation in each our own way.”