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.


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.



By: Juliet Ugay

The Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) held a forum at SCWO on Sunday the 19th of June 2016, in celebration of International Domestic Worker’s Day.

At the forum several important topics were discussed: the live-out option for Domestic Workers, the announcement of the Indonesian government to send zero Domestic Workers abroad in in 2017, and the zero placement fees for Myanmar Domestic Workers.

The forum also addressed the ratification of C189, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Domestic Workers.

The session was attended by many Domestic Workers (DW), as well as HOME staff and press. Three Domestic Workers spoke at the forum, including yours truly, Juliet Ugay from the Philippines, Indonesian Novia Arluna and Myanmar national Moe Moe Than.

I, Juliet, spoke about the live out option for Domestic Workers, its advantages and disadvantages, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and the Overseas Worker’s Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Some of the advantages for domestic workers to live outside their employers house are: greater personal freedom and space, more access to help, less isolation from family and friends, fixed working hours, less control by the employer over the worker’s personal life, and more privacy. The disadvantages include the fear for increased security and safety risks, and increased cost and time for transportation. Some fear live-out DWs would be more vulnerable to bad influences, and that there could be an increased risk of pregnancy.

Novia discussed Indonesia’s announcement to stop sending domestic workers abroad in 2017. According to her, the announcement created confusion for many DWs, as Indonesia proposed a law making it obligatory for Indonesian domestic workers to live out at the same time. She mentioned recommendations to improve protection of Domestic Workers, such as ratifying ILO C189, which includes specifying more clearly items like working hours, contract, minimum wage, annual leave, sick leave, and the weekly day off. Novia also included the enactment of law in National level.

Moe Moe recalled her bad experiences at the hands of her previous employer, who abused her physically and mentally. She gave examples of their abuse, how they made her do jump like a rabbit around the living room, how they threw her food away when they were angry, and only allowed her to go to the toilet three times a day. Tree years after Moe Moe went to the police, her case is still in court (

After that, Moe Moe discussed the problems Myanmar DWs face in Singapore. They include being underage, agencies overcharging, bad communication due to lack of English, abusive agents, no days off, injustice, long working hours, and women being victims of trafficking. Moe Moe expressed her concerns that that Myanmar DWs are more vulnerable, because they face communication problems due to their lack of command of English, and also their resilience in the face of abuse, which make it more difficult for them to ask for help.

Bhing Navato, the emcee of the forum, spoke further about C189, ILO’s Convention concerning decent work for Domestic Workers. She mentioned proposals covered in the Convention, which included minimum wage, weekly rest days, regulated working hours and many more that can improve jobs and lives of Domestic Workers. Singapore is among the countries in Asia who didn’t yet ratify the Convention C189.


After the presentations by the speakers, the participants were asked to form three groups. Each group was given specific topic (live out option, zero domestic worker in 2017, zero placement fee) and was asked to discus the topic and come up with recommendations. A group representative then shared these recommendations to everyone.

The recommendations will be presented during a meeting of HOME representatives, MOM, Embassies and Domestic Workers.

Amongst the recommendations made by the forum were the following:

  • Living-out for Domestic Workers should be made optional
  • Abusive employers should not be given any more chance to hire another DW, and should be punished according to law.
  • POEA, OWWA and OEC should be made free and accessible for Overseas Filipino Workers
  • There should be zero placement fee
  • Laws should be passed governing the protection of Domestic Workers to and from receiving countries.
  • Errant agencies should be punished
  • DWs should be taught to speak English before they proceed to their place of work
  • And, most of all, Singapore should ratify ILO C189.

These are just some of the many recommendations made during the forum sessions. The DWs are hoping that these recommendations will be considered and reviewed properly by the relevant authorities.



Mama, Where Are You?

Many domestic workers leave behind young children in their home countries, when they come to Singapore to work. Most of them do this for the benefit of the children, to pay for their upkeep, education or medical costs. But how do you explain that to a  young child? The child just knows that it misses its mama.  Myrna Javier wrote this heart-breaking poem about a child that misses it’s mother in faraway Singapore.

By: Myrna Javier


Mama, Where Are You? 


Where are thou dear Mother?

Tears in thane innocent eyes come hither.

Melancholy look from a distance.

Hoping to get a glimpse by chance.



Scenarios like this happens at home

When the beacon of light is gone

Even the pillars that remain

Won’t be able to hold

The sadness of the heart and longing

The joy of a mama could bring.



Father, where is my dearest Mama?

Tearfully ask the little one.

Papa can’t give her the right answer

That Mama went to seek for a job on a foreign land

To give us all the better life and free us all from all this strife.


Suppressed happiness in exchange of a dime to a dollar.

Scarcity, of everything, shelter, food and tattered clothes

Simple yet happy filled with love and unity.


Hush dear child, be patient and good.

Dear Mama will be home

Until then let’s smile at the sun and moon

She’ll be with us forever soon

Story of a Philippine Childhood

My name is Myrna and I am 49 years old. I am married, with 3 children and 2 grandchildren. I am a simple person who is a dreamer and who has a positive attitude in every aspect of life. This is the story of my childhood in the Philippines.

I grew up in a small village in Sison, in the province of Pangasinan. My father was a farmer and my mother was a housewife. My father was a very hard-working man. He worked every day on our farm to provide for his children. Even though the work was very tiring, my father was a very responsible husband and a good man.

My father planted a lot of things on our farm: corn, sweet potato, peas, spinach, eggplants and tomatoes. He also planted rice and tobacco. Sometimes I would help him on the farm, along with my brothers and sisters. Every morning, my mother would cook breakfast, prepare coffee for my father, and pack food for all of us before we went to school.

We had all kinds of animals on the farm, like goats, pigs and carabao (a type of water buffalo). We even had a fishpond, where you could see tilapia and milkfish swimming. But my favorite thing was to play with our lovely cats and dogs. People were always surprised when they saw our farm, because it looked like a supermarket! My father loved growing lots of fruits: banana, star fruit, guava, papayas, pomelo, and mangoes.

Every morning was busy in our village, with people either going farming or fishing. But the busiest day was every Saturday, because of the village market. On market days it was so noisy, with people laughing, shouting and selling their pan de sal. I used to go with my mother so we could buy clothes for my brothers and sisters. I remember the strong smell of garbage in the air on market days, and I was always happy when we got back home. Our house always smelled nice because of all the flowers in our backyard: orchids, roses, sunflowers, and many more. My family was very happy and contented, and we lived a peaceful life. Now that I am in Singapore, I miss those peaceful days, and my family, so much…


By: Myla


A place I can’t believe my humanity disowned

Fears and worries that I might one day break down.

People surround me; don’t know if they can be trusted

To whom can I run?


My strength is the root of my journey

From this place I called my second home.

But I don’t feel safe as cruel people live here

Am I protected from harm?


Wrong judgement of who I am

Discrimination because of where I came from

Dejection is what I feel now

Do you care or not?


Voice that has been unheard

Please lend me your ears.

I speak with a heart and God beside me

Hoping one day I will feel safe and you care about me.

No more worries from this place I called my second home




Kartini Day


On Sunday May 8th this year, HOME held its annual Kartini Day celebration, combining Kartini Day, Labour Day and Mothers Day in one festive event at the Hollandse Club. If you were there, you must have marvelled at the women lounging around the hall, dressed in amazing batiks. All these women were Indonesian domestic workers, attending this holiday where Indonesia’s national hero and feminist Kartini is honoured.

Raden Adjeng Kartini

All Indonesians know her: Raden Adjeng Kartini, or Lady Kartini. She was born in 1879 in Central Java. As her family was part of Javanese aristocracy, Kartini was lucky to be enrolled in a Dutch primary school, rare for a Javanese girl in those days. But at twelve, Kartini was secluded at home, deprived from further education in preparation of marriage. She started to correspond with Dutch friends, and became an important pioneer for women’s rights, particularly championing Indonesian girl’s education. Unfortunately Kartini died at a young age, in childbirth, but her spirit lives on: Kartini’s birthday is observed as a national holiday for all Indonesians, celebrating the life of this extraordinary woman as a mother to all.


What would Kartini have said if she lived today? Female emancipation has come a long way over the last hundred years, but Kartini’s work, unfortunately, is far from done. Migrant domestic workers still have fewer rights than other workers in Singapore, and are not covered by the employment act, which makes it difficult to protect them from abusive and exploitative employers. HOME fights for the justice as well as empowerment of these workers, it’s staff and volunteers, many of them domestic workers themselves, following in Kartini’s famous footsteps.

After that serious note, the speeches were over, and most of the day was one of celebration. There were musical performances, both contemporary and traditional, dance, singing, and to top it all; a fashion show giving us a modern take on Indonesian batik. The diversity showed us that batik, the traditional patterned Indonesian fabric, still has many uses today, from our very own Singapore girl, to elaborate ballroom dresses or much more practical daytime wear sarongs and kebaya’s. The women looked amazing, and the judges must have had a hard time choosing a winner from all the beauty paraded in front of them. In all categories, signing, dancing, creative writing and fashion, prizes were awarded to the most talented candidates. It was special to see these women, out of their standard uniform of shorts and T-shirt, showcasing that domestic workers have so much more to offer than plain cleaning, cooking and child-minding.

MyVoice congratulates all the winners on HOME Kartini Day

Fashion Show

  1. Dwi Hartati
  2. Yessy bt Sopandi Wanda
  3. Haney Palupi
  4. Tiwie


  1. Mujiati
  2. Zarazarani
  3. Mariyati


  1. Ameliya Wati
  2. Faridah Nasri
  3. Mei Ismayani

Creative Writing & Poem

  1. Nur Fadilah
  2. Sri Winarsih


Photography by Dina Sartiman

HOME likes to thank the HOME Kartini committee for organising the event, and the Hollandse Club for offering the venue.



By: Maria Allen Cellan

Singapore has laws to protect foreign workers, including the right to rest days or Sundays off. This is to ensure that foreign domestic workers get enough mental and physical rest. But the reality is that many domestic foreign workers don’t have regular rest days. The result of this is low socialization and low self-esteem. By depriving domestic workers of rest days, employers are taking away our right to rest and enjoy our lives once in a while. This is a deprivation that most domestic foreign workers have experienced – not to mention that many of us don’t have proper food, a proper bedroom or an hour of rest a day.

Each person should have a sense of their worth and value. But as foreign workers we tend to lose our dignity; we tend to accept that we should just do whatever our employers tell us to do even if it’s demoralizing or humiliating. In some cases, we lose ourselves, our value and our self-esteem, then we start asking questions about who we are: Are we still worthy of respect? What is our true value in this world? We must realize that dignity is essential for any relationship, especially when it comes to an employer-employee relationship.

The fact is that how we are treated affects how we feel about ourselves. Some employers treat us with the dignity and respect that we deserve, but others do not. The stigma attached to foreign workers is getting worst these days. But we shouldn’t forget that we still have power and we can control how people make us feel about our dignity. We should set our own limits on what is acceptable to us and what is not. We must learn how to stand our ground when circumstances are not tolerable any longer.

We don’t even realize the real reason why we are dressing up on our Sundays off. It’s because we are in need of respect. We sometimes feel humiliated the whole week; well, at least once a week we can be ourselves and not slaves. It seems as though we are in a market place. We buy expensive clothes, shoes and bags just to add value in our lives. But how does it add to our human value?

We let other people appraise us and tell us what are we worthy of. We sometimes think that wearing all those branded expensive things will elevate our worth. But the truth is that dignity comes from ourselves. We should learn how to love and respect ourselves. We should know that we as human beings are equal. We shouldn’t let our job define us or let people mistreat us because we are just foreign workers. Standing our ground when circumstances are not acceptable elevates our dignity.

We as foreign workers must learn the truth about ourselves. The truth is that each of us has the highest value. All of us are striving to prove it in our actions and struggles. We must have freedom from the fear of being judged and we must have the right to stand up for our dignity. As the saying goes: “Society knows freedom when its people knows dignity”.


Image courtesy of TWC2

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