I met with some women from Indonesia who recognised me from last week's outreach. She smiled at me and this time, I had a much easier conversation with the women. I did not feel hesitant like last week. I had soap with me and was giving this out liberally. One of the women asked if I have face masks to give away for free. YL felt we were like a mobile convenient store.
Before we met with the Indonesian women, I had an intimate chat with J. She goes to work in a cab and goes home in a cab too. I asked her if this is costly and her reply was that she prefers it that way as she is not sure about the alighting stops near her home. I thought this was strange considering if you live in a neighbourhood for a long time that you find out about the nearest MRT or bus stops.
We moved on and met with a young Bangladeshi woman. She is new in Singapore and this seems to be a common sight with the Bangladeshi women. I have not recognized any of the Bangladeshi women from other outreach days. They are not regulars of Geylang. A Bangladeshi man was nearby to help us translate. He said that he was visiting a friend in Geylang but we don't think so. The Bangladeshi woman said she is Christian, she has a bindi on her forehead. I don't believe that she is Christian, she could be Muslim in the guise of being Christian.
In Lorong 16, we met with the transgender women. One of them does not look transgender but more like an Indian Muslim. She spoke in Malay and took the soap from me. She asked her friends in Malay if this is for washing the genitals. Jo, the volunteer said, he would arrange for some feminine wash someday. It seems like this could be a need for some. We don't know. However, the needs are varied. One transgender woman asked us why we do not distribute condoms to the men. She emphasized that as a sex worker she calls for her clients to use condoms otherwise she does not service their business.
One other important lesson I've had to remind myself last night was to not hesitate and speak to sex workers. I have to refrain from staring and smile more. I had an encounter where a Singaporean Malay sex worker felt offended by me staring at her. She declared unhappily to the other volunteers to tell me not to stare at her. I felt ashamed for having done so and thought about this more. I hesitated with Singaporean sex workers who are non-transgenders because I don't know if they will mind me talking to them. It seems as if I am used to the foreign women and transgenders but there are a group of women who are working on a different street which may not have the same feel as the other streets. I remember being bullied by some Malay students in my secondary school for having stared at them. Jo said my big eyes are too piercing for them and it is further enhanced with the lack of a smile.