First held in 2015 as part of the Cooler Lumpur Festival, the Migrant Worker Poetry Competition has quickly established itself as one of the key events in the cultural calendar in Malaysia. In 2016, the contest will also seek entries from refugees in Malaysia as well and is therefore being renamed as the Migrant Poetry Competition, Malaysia. The objectives of the competition are to provide a platform for mutual understanding between Malaysians and migrants while celebrating the literary talent of migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia. The event also seeks to promote greater tolerance of multi-culturalism and give a voice to refugees and lower skilled foreign workers.
The competition is organized by a group of volunteers under the Migrant Worker Poetry Competition organizing committee led by Shivaji Das and Khairunnisa Kzaman. We are also supported by noted local writers Bernice Chauly, Anindita Dasgupta, Carol Leon, Looi Siew Teip and Sharon Bakar.
Different sections of Malaysian society have responded to the event enthusiastically as can be gauged by packed venue for the event and the reaction in social media. The contest has received widespread recognition in local media such as Timeout and The Malay Mail Online.
In 2016, the competition will reach out to refugees and a larger group of low skilled migrant workers to drive greater participation. This year, we are planning to organize it independently to provide greater focus.
We have been conducting a similar event in Singapore that is supported by The Embassy of The United States of America in Singapore among other organizations. (http://www.singaporeworkerpoetry.com/)
Call for Volunteers
We are now looking for volunteers to assist with the following:
Drive participation through working directly with target groups and relevant NGOs
Design marketing and promotional materials
Manage online platforms
Coordination during event day
Translations (languages required: Bahasa Indonesia, Burmese, Bengali, Tagalog, etc.)
Post event outreach
Total commitment expected from each volunteer: 1-2 hours per week for ~8 weeks from June to August