A group of us from the office went on a Geylang Adventures expedition: to seek out a more grounded understanding of the social issues facing marginalised populations in the most diverse (and probably perverse) areas of Singapore.

Geylang is and has been our country’s “red light district”, which is the (somewhat) legalised area where sex work is permitted. And alongside that is the rife of illegal drugs, gambling, and potential outbreaks of violence.

And we got a deeper insight into how the space has been shared and shaped over time; how the community has grown and disintegrated in various aspects; and how societal stereotypes and prejudices prevent many of these groups (and the entire area of Geylang) from breaking out of this spiral.

There are many forces that keep people where they are – some visible, some invisible, some not even conscious to us – those nonconscious forces are the most dangerous and viscious.

Afterall, how can you change something that you do not know exists?

After the session of sharing and learning, I feel this sense of amazement at how this space is so wildly diverse in so many different ways; and also this heartfelt sense of empathy and compassion to the fellow humans (locals and marginalised populations alike) within this shared space that is Geylang.

Everyone has their unique life story, and their unique motivations that is personal to them. The moment we impose our judgment on who we think they are as a group of people, we remove their humanity and replace it with a label. That is prejudice without understanding.

Awareness Question: despite so many stark differences, does it make it any less home?

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