I found a home in HOME

By Cherie Roa

I found a home in HOME

 

In HOME I found many friends,

who come from different countries.

They are very friendly and very caring.

In HOME I feel secure, safe.

 

Some girls come and go.

When someone is crying,

I feel the same way too.

Some other girls give their free hugs,

say ‘don’t worry, everything will be allright.’

 

In HOME I found a family.

We are not sisters by blood,

But we treat each other like that.

Treat domestic workers as well as your dog

By: Rosita Madrid Sanchez

One Saturday afternoon while everybody was having a nap, I was at my balcony sitting down while my legs were up against the wall and my hand was holding a pen and a notebook. And this is the story I wrote:

“Liza! Don’t forget to bring my dog Sally outside this afternoon,” said Liza’s employer. “She needs some fresh air and she needs to mingle with some of the dogs here at the condo so she can get familiar with them. Remember you are not allowed to talk to anyone outside, especially with all the helpers in this condo.”

“Yes Mam!” Liza answered quickly.

But by the time Liza finished her work and it was time to bring down the dog, she heard loud thunderstorms, followed by lightning, and the sky was very dark.

“Madam! Madam!” said Liza, looking for her employer. She found her in her room, sitting down while having her food.

“Madam, I think it is better to bring down Sally tomorrow instead as it might rain very soon”, said Liza.

“WHAT?” roared her employer. “Are you a weather reporter ah? You see black clouds it will rain ready ah? Lazy maid! Go and bring the dog for a walk outside!”

Liza couldn’t say anything after those insulting words and just followed what her employer asked her to do. Soon, a strong wind started howling, followed by heavy rain and thunderstorms. Sally got frightened and ran as fast as she could, enough to drag Liza’s small body.

“Sally, Sally stop! Please don’t run anymore! It’s only rain and we are going home soon.”

Liza was dragged to the ground. It hurt her so much that she ended up with bloody knees and bruises on her face and arms.

“Oh my God, oh my God! Sally, please come over here. You are so wet, what happened to you sweetie? Oh my! Come here baby!” called her employer to the dog, not bothered about Liza.

“Liza, go straight to the kitchen!”

Liza was about to change her wet clothes but suddenly she heard her employer shouting, “Where is the towel for Sally? And bring her some hot milk. Faster! Later on Sally will get sick I tell you!”

When everything was settled, Sally was already in her bed and it was only at that time that Liza took a look at her bloody knees and bruises. She felt like crying and told herself, “You are okay Liza, go ahead and change your clothes then prepare dinner for your employer. You are here to work so be strong.”

Thinking about her situation, my tears came flowing from my eyes and I realized what a cruel world we have. Sometimes some people don’t care about others, especially when they are domestic workers. We may be domestic workers, but without us our employers wouldn’t manage going to work, taking care of their kids and their household. Us domestic workers can do all the chores like looking after kids, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the elderly or pets and yet we are taken for granted.

 Why can’t you give us the same love that you give to your animals? Is it because you are only paying us in exchange for our work and you think that you own us? We are humans too, with feelings and emotions and sometimes we feel tired, we feel happy or we feel sad just like everyone else; thus, we deserve your respect.

 

 

A WORKER IN A FOREIGN LAND

 

A WORKER IN A FOREIGN LAND        

By Myrna Javier del Carmen

I

As a dry leaf that hesitantly flies, and is snatched by hurricane away,

thus live on earth Overseas Foreign Workers, armed with aim, love and country,

impaled by an invisible hand, they work from cities to shore,

their memories will keep them company, of loved ones, a happy day of yore.

II

Overseas Foreign Workers, that is what we are,

struggling to ease life’s turmoil

somehow we manage without fear,

back home, we know they care.

III

We are here in a strange land, where different cultures vary,

ignorant and overwhelmed by this first world country, we do our best to adapt and carry,

letters are our only happiness, bringing joy to our daily tasks,

smiling and reminiscing, even to our slumber, they help us to stay and bear much longer

IV

Loneliness and painstaking memories are the plight of foreign workers like me,

some end up with bosses that are wicked and bad,

enduring all just so the family will have

V

Material things abound everywhere,  still we got to save for our love ones dear,

we resist succumbing to temptations, evil things just leads to doom and damnation.

VI

Contributing to our country economy, we are the unsung heroes of our own right,

I proudly say: Go dear Overseas Foreign Workers, go

Don’t turn back your face, for in your grief the world simply mocks you

 

 

 Myrna Javier del Carmen, is 45 years old, and married.  She hails from Banate, Iloilo, Philippines. Myrna has been working as a domestic worker in Singapore for 18 years.

Image by Elena Kotliarker

Dear Employer, Hear us, have a Heart

By Michelle Ortiz

I write this letter to get the attention of employers, on behalf of my fellow domestic workers, many of who can relate to this situation.

I’ve been working in Singapore for nearly 8 years, with 2 different employers and during my days off I often visit Lucky Plaza. There, I always talk to other Filipina’s. After we get to know each other, we like to talk about our jobs, our current situation living with our employers, and whether we are well-treated or maltreated. But this is not the main topic for us. If you ask a domestic worker whether their employers are good to them, they cannot answer you directly. They will respond with ‘I have no choice because I am afraid my employer won’t release me, and will send me home. So I have to bear with it, even though I’m unhappy.’

Honestly speaking, this is the most common problem for foreign domestic workers in Singapore, because some employers refuse to sign the release papers This means the domestic worker has no chance to find a new employer, their only choice is to renew or continue working with the current employer.

This is very unfair to us, because going back home, and reapplying for a job in Singapore again, is just wasting time, money and effort. There are a lot of papers to process, and some requirements that we need to comply to again.

Why is it so difficult for the employers to issue a release paper for their helper if they wish to transfer? Maybe they have their own reasons, but it is difficult to understand why they need to make things so difficult, where they can make it easy. Both parties could benefit. The employer can save money, by signing the release paper, instead of having to buy the plane ticket to send them home. This way, both parties can save time and money.

I will not generalise, but I know that many foreign domestic workers can relate to this. I wish that all employers could open their heart and mind, and consider this request. Also, I hope that MOM will request from employers to allow their domestic workers for transfer, if they wish to do so, especially those who have finished their contract.

I know that we all come here to work for a living, and earn money for our family back home, that’s why most of us just bear with it, even when we’re not satisfied, or ill-treated. Because we have no choice. I hope the employers of Singapore can hear us, and have a heart.

Thank you and May God bless us all.

Who likes chicken?

Our volunteer Jean Paller shares her recipe for Chicken Calabrese, a classic recipe with tomato, cheese and basil, that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds!

unnamed-8

CHICKEN CALABRESE

(Chicken breast with fresh tomato cheese and basil)

INGREDIENTS:

2-chicken breast

1-handful fresh basil

1-pack mozzarella cheese 150g

Salt and pepper

1-tbsp olive oil

Cherry tomatoes 350g

2-gloves garlic

1-oz, 30g Parmesan cheese

4-tbsp balsamic vinegar

METHOD:

  1. Season the chicken breast on each side with salt and pepper.
  2. In a frying pan add the olive oil on medium heat caramelize the chicken breast (make it slightly brown) on each side.
  3. Cut all the cherry tomatoes in half.
  4. Once chicken is caramelized on each side add crushed garlic to frying pan followed by the tomatoes.
  5. Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar and grate the Parmesan cheese over the chicken and tomatoes.
  6. Slice the basil and shred and add to pan.
  7. Put mozzarella cheese on top of the chicken breast or enough to cover the whole chicken breast.
  8. Bake in oven for 15 -20 mins at 200 degrees.

 

Jean Paller works as a domestic worker in Singapore, and volunteers with HOME in her spare time.

image

REMEMBER YOUR DREAM

By Maria Allen Cellan

Do we still remember the reasons why we are working in this foreign country? Do we still remember our dreams and our plans before we left home? I hope so. Or do we believe that dreaming is just wishful thinking, and that our fate has already been decided for us? Have we already decided that what we do now is what we want to do for the rest of our lives?

Remember those days when you were still planning to work overseas: what were the reasons that motivated you? Maybe you wanted to buy a house and a lot for your family, or maybe you needed to save up some money for a sick relative. Maybe you are a single mother who dreams about giving her children a good education. As for me, I have lots of reasons why I am working overseas. My dream is to save enough money to start my own business and get my Master’s degree in Business Administration, and maybe after that take a course to be qualified as preschool teacher.

Whatever our dreams are, we should never stop reminding ourselves why we are in a foreign country, working hard. We should always be thinking about what’s possible for us in our lifetime. I am pretty sure that most of us don’t want to spend the rest of our lives working overseas and away from our families. We need to keep our dream alive in our hearts, even as we are pushed to work harder and harder every day, enduring all the pains caused by work, all the sleepless crying nights, the homesickness, the starvation and even the lack of freedom and dignity for ourselves. All this endurance should not be wasted.

I like to think about what is possible and what can I achieve in my life. I don’t want to reach a certain age and regret that I never tried to do something new for myself that I can be proud of. Dreaming about something doesn’t mean it is going to happen right away: it takes time, effort, focus and hard work. But dreaming allows you to imagine how your life could be better than it is at the moment. When we dream, there are no limits.

But sometimes, we get caught up in the reality of daily life and forget why we are here. Some of us just accept our lot for what it is, and even stop trying new things that could help us grow or achieve our dreams. But we should not accept mediocrity as our destiny. I am not saying we can’t have fun during our days off; what I am saying is that we shouldn’t lose our focus, or forget our goals.

We are all better than we know. We must try to achieve our goals, and never settle for anything less. And most of all, we must never stop dreaming.

 

 

THE DREAM CATCHERS

 

By: Juliet Ugay

Do you ever wonder where some Domestic Workers spend their days off? Here is an example.

The ‘Dream Catchers’, they call themselves, a group of people who are full of hopes and dreams; and they help young kids who want to reach their dreams. This group is special because most of them are members of the LGBT community. The Dream Catchers were founded by couple Mitch and Josephine Sisor. Mitch has been working in Singapore as a Domestic Worker for 14 years now, and Josephine for nine years.

unnamed-7(1)

The couple met in Singapore, and eventually a sparkle flared up between them. The group started with just the two of them, and but soon gained more members. At the moment, there are 30 members, and counting. Like Josephine and Mitch, most of the members are domestic workers. They spent most of their Sundays off organizing events, raising funds, and doing photo shoots. Proceeds of the activities goes to different causes they are sponsoring or helping in the Philippines.

Some of their efforts include: donating goods for those who are affected by the typhoon in Bicol and Cebu in the Philippines, financial assistance for the medication of a new-born, financial assistance for the families of those who died in the typhoon so they can get a proper burial, and providing school supplies for the children of poor farmers in some villages.

According to Mitch and Josephine, organizing such events is very challenging and rewarding at the same time. Challenging, in the sense that they need to get everything organized before the event, they need to advertise it, find a venue, sell tickets, get sponsors for their prizes and practice or rehearse a few hours during Sundays. Rewarding, because they are doing fun things for good causes, and feel it is a good way to spend their days off.

I had the chance to be part of their event held last June 26, 2016 at Ceylon Sports Club in Balestier Road. I was invited to be one of the four judges in a competition called “ Search for Gwapitong Tomboy” which means search for the most handsome or good-looking member of the LGBT group. The other judges included Mark Hermoso, a Senior Marketing Consultant and a grand winner of the Dream Top Model competition, Joyce Sng and Mr. Taylor who works for a company specializing in educational technology. The event showcased creativity, poise and wit among the twelve contestants. The stage was graced by performances from different groups and emceed by Jho Salac and Mharz Mangosong.

From the twelve contestants, Edward Lee Anderson, 38, called Luna Silos in real life, emerged as the winner with her confidence. Edward, as he is commonly called by friends, works as a domestic worker, taking care of an elderly. When asked about her thoughts about being a “tomboy”, she said, “Being a lesbian in a Filipino culture where religion is mostly Catholic, has always been a taboo since way back and its pretty difficult to fit in because people tend to discriminate you as a person and you have no place in the society. Even your own family tends to step away from you. But I can’t change the way I am. This is me, and if people can’t accept that then it is their problem. I won’t pretend to be something else I am not”.

The event gave me the chance to meet and be around these people and I see their different sides. I thought they were fun and jolly people. If you look at them, you’d think their life is so easy because of the way they are, but there are many things hidden behind the laughter. They are humans who have feelings, and want to live a normal life. They should be respected too, and be treated fairly like everyone else.

unnamed-2

The Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) is an anti-human trafficking organisation advocating empowerment and justice for all migrant workers in Singapore