04/20/2022, 15.39
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Singapore mourns the death of Catholic activist Bridget Tan, champion of migrants

In 2004 she set up an organisation with her retirement money to provide legal aid and protection for migrant workers. In recent years, she fought against sexual slavery and human trafficking. Her work was recognised in Asia and the United States.

Singapore (AsiaNews) – Activists and human rights groups in Singapore and across Asia are mourning the death of Bridget Tan, a leading advocate for migrant workers and founder of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).

A prominent Catholic figure in the city-state, Tan died on Monday at the age of 73, seven years after a stroke that left her paralysed for two months in intensive care in 2014

“Bridget was an untiring advocate and champion of the rights of migrant workers,” HOME said in a statement.

Her first public appearance after her illness was in December 2014, during the celebrations for HOME’s 10th anniversary.

More recently, she closely followed its activities, which include support for domestic workers victims of abuse, skills training programmes, as well as legal and job counselling for migrant workers.

“Tan was a real friend and ally of the migrants; she always lent a listening ear and gave a helping hand to people in need,” HOME also said.

In addition to helping migrant workers in Singapore, she also spent time in Batam, Indonesia, working for a local NGO.

Bridget Tan was born in 1948, the third of four children. Her father was a physician and her mother a housewife.

Educated at the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) in Katong, a Catholic girls' secondary school, she worked in human resources in the private sector until her retirement at 55. She had two children, a son who is a doctor and a daughter who is a psychologist, as well as six grandchildren.

After her retirement, she continued to volunteer, starting with Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI), which she chaired.

She set up HOME in 2004 with her retirement money in order to provide services, assistance and legal aid to migrants.

That same year, she created another organisation in Indonesia, the Yayasan Dunia Viva Wanita (World Foundation for Women).

For her work, Tan was honoured over the years by the Asia Society, the US State Department, and the governments of Thailand and the Philippines.

Her deep connection with the Catholic faith emerges not only from her works, but also from her public statements.

In a 2011 interview, she said she “felt God's call” when Father Altamirano urged her to join the commission. In the latter, she was behind food, housing and training programmes.

In recent years, HOME has expanded its activities to include support for victims of sexual slavery and human trafficking.

In 2010 she was nominated for the Reader's Digest Asian of the Year award, and received an honourable mention. Five years later, she was inducted into the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame.

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