SINGAPORE - An unlikely friendship has blossomed between a three-year-old boy and a few foreign workers, after the boy saw the men at work.
According to a report by Lianhe Wanbao, the boy Jake struck up the friendship after he spotted the workers carrying out upgrading works in the carpark below his Housing Board flat late last year.
Enthralled by the heavy machinery at the worksite, Jake would visit twice daily.
He communicated with the workers via hand signals initially. But as he grew older and learnt to speak, he would talk to them.
In a video interview with Zaobao.sg, Jake said: "They are my good friends."
His mother, a 32-year-old operations manager who wanted to be known only as Annie, said: "Initially, we didn't know the workers well and they were shy, but as they became more friendly and open, we were less worried too.
"We are very happy that our son could become friends with them."
After Jake became closer to the workers, his parents realised that the workers would usually take their meals without any meat. The family would then buy fried chicken for them to supplement their meals. They also sometimes gave them drinks and fruits.
Jake has come up with nicknames for his friends - Foreman, Tall Uncle, Red Helmet Uncle, Digger Driver and Botak Uncle.
In turn, the workers - who hail from Myanmar, Bangladesh and India - affectionately call him "Baby".
The worker known as Tall Uncle said: "Baby is very broad-minded and he is a very good person. He will notice where everyone is, and if someone is on medical leave, he will ask about where the person is."
The workers dote on Jake. They would carry him and shower him with kisses, and often posed for photos with him.
Inspired by his friends, Jake now wants to become a foreman when he grows up. His parents are supportive of his ambition, and have bought him a helmet and a safety vest.
While the workers have now moved on to other sites to work, their friendship with Jake has endured.
Jake's family would make trips to visit the workers at the sites they are working on.
Annie said: "Even if it is just five minutes in a day, if he goes down just to smile and say hi, he does cheer them up a bit."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.