How are the big economies of the world running? Is it the big building, new technologies, rich banks and the bankers? Maybe. But if you take a close look at the street side bakeries, constructions sites, and even the happy homes, you will find few tense faces working hard to keep up with their lives.
These are disadvantaged migrants who have been lured by the big offerings of these so-called city of dreams. Through this blog, I want to make a small effort to connect and understand the challenges faced by these disadvantaged migrants. Following content pieces have been inspired by real-life stories.
Yes, we are talking about the disadvantaged migrants who work as a housekeepers, babysitters, constructions workers, office boys, gardeners, street cleaners who play a major role in keeping these economies up and running. Are these the native citizens of the State? No, they are definitely not!
A 40-Year Old Divorced Female Domestic Worker
Mary came to Singapore from the Philippines at the age of 25. She left her 18-monthsold son and a 5-years old daughter behind with her husband. Her husband’s salary was not good enough for the family to make a good living. Eventually, she decided to take the bold decision and step out of the comfort zone after taking a divorce from her husband.
Today, she is 40 years of old. In her 15 years of stay, Mary has witnessed many changes in the streets of Singapore. However, one of the major tasks remained the same. On weekends, she had to rush to the remittance centers located in the malls of Singapore.
Singapore malls remain crowded in the weekends because often the migrant workers who are allowed a day off in the week send money home.
An Out-of-Work Construction Worker
Due to slow down in the Real Estate business in India, 36 years old construction worker- Abdul had no work. After struggling for a couple of months, he decided to move to a Gulf country for employment. But Abdul would have never imagined that he was moving towards an even worse phase of his life. Just after on the second day of his work, the wall on which he was working on collapsed.
He got several injuries on the body. His shoulder got dislocated, spine got twisted, in summary, he was rendered useless by the accident. But the struggle has just started for the Abdul since paying for the expensive bills of the hospital was a nightmare. He was unable to take loans or the reimbursement of the medical expenses due to unreliable paperwork submitted by his employer. After two surgeries, Abdul is planning to go back home and start afresh.
A Student with a Scholarship and Dreams
Shasha always wanted to be a geneticist. She always topped in the class. Many of her classmates wondered how she managed to achieve this repeatedly even after her parents could not afford her tuitions. Coming from an average earning family of the Sub-Saharan Africa where many people don’t even have a proof of their own identities, Shasha always dreamed of making it big. But without proper funds to back her education, her dreams were bound to be shattered by the realities of the harsh world.
However, Shasha was fortunate enough to get an international scholarship. Soon the funds were transferred to her account. As expected, her account was with a regional bank, not offering great services, especially those which deals with the cross-border money transfer. And what happened next was inevitable. Even after getting admission in the top university, Shasha faced a lot of problems in paying the fees, not because she didn’t had funds, but due to the inability of her local bank to transfer funds directly to the university account. Yes, there are other cross-border remittance services available, but the whole process would take days, and if in case there is a holiday, even more.
Can Technology be Utilized to Help Disadvantaged Migrants?
The problems related to disadvantaged migrants are because of the absence of a Universal ID
– Each country has its own credit system, hence once a person travels from one country to another, his/her previous credit record becomes useless and he/she is not able to avail loans.
– Without proper documentation, even the basic medical services can’t be availed.
– An immigrant also needs to get his/her degrees verified by the university in the home country, which requires a considerable amount of effort and time.
A technology like Blockchain which deploys a network of distributed ledger can be utilized to form a universal database of people and all the information related to them, like medical history, educational qualification, transaction history and more. Since Blockchain records data immutably, this database would behave as a permanent alterable history of an individual, especially for the disadvantaged migrants like these. With the availability of such credible information, there would be no requirement for many of the verification and validation services, which would fast forward approvals and processing of many services.
But, is building such a universal database possible? It seems to be a distant dream when you imagine the organizations in different countries collaborating with each other. But sooner or later, everyone would realize that having a universal ID would prove to be beneficial for all and different governments hopefully would be able to see the bigger picture.