“Children look at me in fear, people stare and shun me, the MRT security will check my bag, and the police has also stopped me many times. But I am no terrorist, just a worker who has been severely burnt," Rahman Mohammad Ataur told Facebook page Millennials Of Singapore.
"Don't make excuses saying this is not safe"
Rahman is a Bangladeshi who was caught in an explosion after, he alleges, he was ordered to enter a manhole in order to access an underground water tank that needed to be cleaned.
This was in July 2016 — two years ago.
No one had wanted to do it, he said, because there was a bad smell.
Rahman told the page that his employer had said, "Don’t make excuses saying this is not safe, you say that this is not safe because you don’t want to do this."
Rahman was then given a halogen lamp to aid his vision underground. He switched it on.
Skin coming off his hands
The next thing he knew, skin was coming off his hands.
He was covered in flames, his voice was gone, and he could see his bones.
He didn't know it then, but an explosion occurred when he switched on the lamp. Apparently, gas had accumulated in the manhole, and presumably reacted with the halogen lamp.
His colleagues pulled him out from the scene.
(Side note: Halogens are a group in the periodic table consisting of five chemically-related elements: fluorine (F), chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br), iodine (I), and astatine (At).
"Halogen" means "salt-producing", and the elements react with metals to produce a range of salts.)
Third-degree burns, loss of hearing in both ears
Rahman suffered third-degree burns on 69 per cent of his body, as well as complete loss of hearing in his right ear and severe hearing loss in his left.
He was in a coma for three months.
Even after his discharge at the end of 2016, he required multiple surgeries to reconstruct his face.
However, he said, his employer stopped paying for his medical bills in July 2017.
Now, an ongoing online campaign hopes to raise funds for the worker to restore and reconstruct his ears (which are currently fixed against his scalp due to damaged skin and cartilage), among other things.
The ear surgery will cost around S$15,000. Sadly, his sight, hearing, and use of fingers have been irreversibly impaired.
In the meantime, Rahman covers his face with a scarf and sunglasses, so people he meets will not be afraid of how he now looks.
Still volunteers and takes self-improvement classes
Despite the incident, Rahman is thankful to be alive.
Apart from visiting fellow burns victims at Singapore General Hospital, where he was also warded, he also volunteers at the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) to help fellow Bangladeshi workers with workplace injury and salary claims.
In addition, he has been taking English and computer lessons for self-improvement.
Top image from Reviving Opportunities & Aid for Rahman's Facebook page