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Festival Participants

Who's gonna be there?

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Anju Mary Paul

Born in India, Anju Mary Paul is an international migration scholar and associate professor of sociology at Yale-NUS College. Anju Mary Paul’s first book, Multinational Maids (2017), looks at the stepwise migrations of Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers. Her second book, Local Encounters in a Global City (2017), was written with her students, exploring different spaces of globalisation in Singapore.

Caroline Brassard

Caroline Brassard has been teaching at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy since 2002, on topics such as development economics, econometrics, research methods, poverty alleviation, and aid governance, among others. Her research focuses on development policy lessons from disasters in the Asia-Pacific and disaster governance in urbanizing contexts. Prior to joining the LKY SPP, Caroline worked in Madagascar for UNICEF, in Bangladesh for CARE and in Vietnam for her post-graduate research. Caroline holds a PhD in Economics from the University of London.

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Cheng Chang

Cheng Chang is the co-founder of ‘4-way Voice Monthly(四方報)’ (2006), ‘Grandma Bridge Plan(外婆橋計畫)’ (2011-2015), ‘Singing in Taiwan(唱四方)’ (2013-2015), and ‘Taiwan Literature Award for Migrants’ (2014- ).  In 2015, Cheng Chang kickstarted the event ‘Bringing Back Books That You Cannot Read’, and found a Southeast Asia-themed bookstore called ‘Brilliant Time’. He is dedicated to improving understanding between migrants and locals, and building a diverse, fair, and friendly society.

Joan Santillan Amurao

Joan is from the Philippines and is the solo-parent of two lovely daughters. She is a migrant worker as domestic helper based in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. She loves to do writing freestyle, poem, story, qoute and reaction paper. She was the third prize winner in Migrant & Refugee Poetry Competition, 2018. Her aim is to motivate and encourage fellow migrants and as well as refugees around the world through her writing.
"People need people to remind us that life may be difficult, but it is just temporal."

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Jon Gresham

Jon Gresham is a writer and photographer based in Singapore. His short story collection, We Rose Up Slowly, was published in 2015 to critical acclaim. He is also a co-founder and director of Sing Lit Station, a literary community, and charity based in Singapore. He leads the Writing the City creative writing workshops and helps manage the Book A Writer programme placing writers in Singapore's schools. He can be found at

Lintang Panjer Sore

Born in a small village near Rembang, Indonesia, Lintang has been working as a migrant worker in Hong Kong since 2009. She is the author of several poetry collections such as Traktat Cinta dan Dosa Dalam Dendam, Telenta Pengukir Tinta Emas bagian 1 dan 2. Jejak Mata Pena, Kemboja Bercerita. Perempuan di Muara Rantau. Lentera sastra 2, and short story collections "Jamur Luka, Mimpi Yang terputus,  I am not an Angel, Pergi Untuk Kembali. Maafkan Aku".
Lintang has been running a library for migrant workers in Hong Kong since 2011.

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MD Sharif

Sharif is a migrant worker in Singapore who comes from Bangladesh. Sharif writes short stories and poetry and has been published in journals and anthologies in Singapore and Bangladesh. His favourite writers are Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Bibhutivushan Bandyopadhyay. He participated to Singapore Writers Festival 2017 and Singapore Poetry Festival 2018. "Stranger to Myself" is his first book; it won the 2018 Singapore Book Awards in the Non-Fiction category.

Mwaffaq Al-Hajjar

Mwaffaq Al-Hajjar is an engineer, creative writer, and performer from Damascus, Syria. Mwaffaq has been living in KL, Malaysia since 2016 and was the first-prize winner of the 2017 Poetry competition for migrants and refugees in Malaysia. He has also studied music (Solfège) in Damascus, Syria and performed in Theatre several times including at The Refugee Festival.
Mwaffaq is completing his first Poetry book that will be published soon.


Dr Natarajan Rajaraman

Dr Natarajan Rajaraman (Raj) is the Head of Medical Services at HealthServe - an organisation founded in Singapore that helps disadvantaged migrant workers through clinic and casework services. He oversees operations of their medical and dental clinics, as well as the development of community-based health programmes, research, education and health-related external collaborations. 

Raj has a background in medicine, global public health and education. His specific interests are in the health of vulnerable populations and post-conflict health systems strengthening through training healthcare workers and improving quality of healthcare facilities. He has previously served in Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste.

Dr Paddy McLisky

Dr Paddy McLisky is a General Practitioner working in Byron Bay, a small town on the east coast of Australia.  Paddy graduated from Medicine at the Flinders University of South Australia in 2005. He has been working with Doctors For Refugees for the past two and a half years, and is currently Secretary of the organisation. Doctors For Refugees is an entirely independent group of over 600 volunteer doctors, health professionals and concerned citizens, and receives no government funding.

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Petrina Kow

Petrina Kow is a Certified Fitzmaurice Voicework(R) Teacher based in Singapore. She coaches clients in Voice, accent and presentation. She is also a voice actor, an ex-radio deejay, and an emcee/host for corporate and family events. She is an actress and singer who was most recently seen in Kuo Pao Kun's Lao Jiu: The Musical. Petrina will be conducting a storytelling workshop for migrant workers during the Global Migrant Festival.

Samsul Said

Born in Pekan, Malaysia, Samsul is an International Award-Winning Photojournalist whose work ‘Life inside the Refugee Camp’ won the acclaimed 2018 Sony World Photography Awards in Current Affairs & News category. Samsul has more than 11 years of experience and is now involved with several NGOs in Malaysia. He is currently working on a long-term project about struggles of Rohingyas in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Malaysia. 

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Sharasyamsi Yahya

Sharasyamsi comes from Indonesia. She has been working in Singapore for nine years as a domestic worker. Her hobbies are singing and teaching music. She believes in learning continuously so that in the process, she can also help her family. She was the third prize winner in the Migrant Worker Poetry Contest 2015 and has also been featured in documentaries and talks.

Shamshad Chaudhry

Shamshad Ahmad Chaudhry, son of Chaudhry Latif Ahmad, is a resident of Rabwah, Pakistan, a city in the district Chiniot. He has done his MA in Journalism and has served as a journalist in his home country. Shamshad is living in Malaysia as a refugee since 2016, and actively participates in all community activities of Jama'at Ahmaddiya Community. In his home country, he served several newspaper agencies, magazine and television channels for more than 18 years. He is blessed with artistic mind and the ability to write poems, he wrote his first poem in 1989 and for this he received 3rd position in refugee poetry competition in Malaysia 2016. and First prize in 2018 migrants and refugee competition in Malaysia

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Su-Ann Oh

Su-Ann Oh is a visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) in Singapore, with a doctorate from the University of Oxford. Her research interests include refugees, migration, education and borders, with a geographical emphasis on Myanmar and its border with Thailand. She is currently writing a book on refugee education in camps on the Thai-Burmese border and is the editor of Myanmar's Mountain and Maritime Borderscapes: Local Practices, Boundary-Making and Figured Worlds (ISEAS Press, 2016). She has written several articles, book chapters and reports on education on the Thai-Burmese border ( Su-Ann also serves as a Board Member at Room to Grow Foundation, a foundation that helps care for unparented children on the Thai-Burmese border (

Zheng Xiaoqiong

Born in Nanchong, Sichuan, China, Zheng went to Southern China as a migrant worker in 2001. She has published over 10 poetry collections including ‘Journal of a female worker’, ‘Huangmaling’, and ‘Collections of Zheng Xiaoqiong's poems’. She has received multiple awards and her work has been translated into German, English, French, Japan, Korea, Spanish, and Turkish. Her work has also appeared in ‘Renmin Wenxue’, ‘Shikan’, ‘Independence’ and ‘Huosai’.

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Ziaur Rahman

Ziaur Rahman was born in Arakan State in Myanmar, but was raised in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Later he was trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia. He has since been living in Malaysia for more than four years as a registered refugee with UNHCR. Ziaur advocates for the rights of his people and was the first-prize winner of the NGO Incubator Pitch 2018 for his story telling campaign on social medias by Techsoup, Microsoft Malaysia and Yayasan Salam and supported by US Embassy in Malaysia. Ziaur has also written a book and is now waiting to edit and publish it. He was featured in the documentary Selfie with the Prime Minister, co-directed by Malaysian filmmakers Nor Arlene Tan and Grace Cho Hee Won

The Birds Theater

'The Birds Theater' is a group consisting of migrant workers from Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines. The name is a reference to migratory birds. United by an interest in theatre and performance, they have been receiving guidance from Haresh Sharma, Resident Playwright of The Necessary Stage.

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The Good Shop

The Good Shop partners with impact makers to bring positive solutions to benefit the community. They drive social procurement by providing a platform that communicates and educates the public through the supply of impact goods and services available in Malaysia. The revenue they generate goes to impact partners to support their causes as well as to The Good Shop’s own beneficiaries in support of marginalised communities, sustainable living, cultural preservation etc.

Hidden Tours

Hidden Tours is a Singapore-based non-profit that works with marginalised groups within our community. Walks are crafted and led by individuals associated with these groups to reveal a lesser known side of Singapore, giving them a voice to share their stories, struggles and also challenge misconceptions. Through these neighbourhood walks, we provide a platform for both locals and tourists to learn more about these communities and gain new perspectives from these unique guides and storytellers.

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Migrant's Band Singapore

Migrant's Band Singapore is dedicated to entertain migrant workers in Singapore through music, theatre, and poetry and to provide a free platform to learn and practice music. It also promotes Bengali culture.

Migrant Cultural Show - Singapore

Migrant Cultural Show is a platform in Singapore to showcase the various talents of migrants with performances and cultural activities to raise levels of consciousness in understanding, awareness and tolerance of inter cultural differences. This show also promotes cultural bonding among different nations and different countries Migrant workers.

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Migrant Writers of Singapore

Migrant Writers of Singapore is a bonding of migrants who are literature enthusiast from different nationalities, different beliefs and different walks of life yet bond together as family in the world of Poetry. Mostly these Migrant Writers are the product of the prestigious Migrant Workers Poetry Competition Singapore. They aim to give voice to the unheard voices,uplift the morale of migrant community and offer a platform to showcase their talents.Through literary activities these Migrants find a home,a family in this foreign land

Participants copy: Team Members
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