On my evening jog today, I chanced upon two foreign construction workers of Indian origin. Slight in stature, they were on walking on the pavement outside the construction site after a hard day's work.
When they heard my approaching footsteps, one of them pulled the other aside to make way for me. His friend grinned good naturedly at him, his long fringe peeping out from the yellow helmet.
As I glanced at their faces, it dawned on me how young these boys are. They are probably in their early to mid 20s.
My mind then wandered to the foreign domestic workers keeping our homes in order, waiters serving us in restaurants, and retail staff assisting us with our purchases.
Like the two boys building our city, many of them are young men and women. Youths at the prime of their lives, they are forced to leave their homes to eke out a living in a foreign land.
Like our youths here in Singapore, they are the pride and hope of their families, hometowns, and maybe even villages.
Like our kids in university, poly or the workforce, they are boys and girls who represent the aspirations and future of a generation.
Like any 20 something year old youth, they have their passions, moments of craziness, naïveté and needs.
Like any young person, they have their dreams and wishes, desires and wants.
The difference, however, is that fate has dealt them a very different hand from what we or our children have received.
The next time we feel the ugliness of xenophobia gripping our hearts, let us remember that these friends of Singapore are really no different from us.
While we celebrate the vitality and vigour of our youth, especially in light of our glorious showing at the recent SEA Games, let us not forget these invisible youths in our midst who work equally hard to build a better and brighter future for Singapore.
Without their youthful energies, many of the comforts which we take for granted here in the Lion City will all crumble to dust.