New Phone, New Hope

If you have an old phone lying around at home, chances are you have an opportunity to help a family in a big way.

By April 2017, Singapore’s mobile networks will cease its offering of 2G band connectivity to its customers. For most of us, this is not going to be a problem – chances are you either have a smartphone or a mobile phone that has 3G capabilities. Essentially if you’re able to browse the internet, send pictures via SMS and so on – or can see ‘H+’, ‘3G’, ‘4G’ or ‘LTE’ at the top of your phone – you have a 3G-capable phone.

This is not the case for a lot of foreign workers here in Singapore who rely on older model phones that use 2G mobiles. With almost a million foreign workers living in Singapore, this can cause a huge problem for those who have suffered injuries or have not been properly paid – not just to find out how to get help, but contact their families back home.

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping foreign workers who have been injured, unpaid or facing abuse from their employers. From construction and sanitation to domestic work, the advocacy group helps a considerable amount of people here in Singapore.

The latest initiative created by TWC2 is that of donating old 3G phones. Many workers rely on their phones to call home to speak to their families, and use associations like TWC2 to ask questions about their current work situation and so on.

With the 2G network being switched off in April next year, those mobile phones will be rendered unusable, stopping a lot of people from being able to contact loved ones and having access to information when it’s most needed. Money to purchase a new phone may not be available to them, putting them in a difficult situation if something goes wrong with wages or unlawful deportation. ‘Being injured or salary-unpaid leaves these workers with no income stream at all,’ TWC2’s Alex Au says. ‘Yet they are the ones most dependent on phone communication to get help.’

If you have an old phone that you’re no longer using, along with a charger, drop it off at TWC2’s office – visit the website for full details. Call 6247 7001 to find the closest office to you – you can also donate money for the group to purchase second-hand phones.