Hi, my name is Desi. I am a domestic worker in Singapore. This is my story.
I come from a humble family in a remote area in West Java. I had never left my village until the day I came to Singapore. I don’t know what city life is like as my parents who worried about the bad influence of the city, forbade me from going too far away from the village.
But, I have dreams and aspirations. I dream about going to college and be able to help the school in my village which did not have enough students to begin with. My dream is to make my parents and my younger siblings happy. However I will never be able to see my dream come true with the small paycheck working in the village.
I started to dream about going to work overseas. I heard from people who have worked in Singapore that it is beautiful, non-discriminatory, safe even for foreigners living there.
Though clueless about Singapore when I arrived in 2014, I was filled with hope. But, only a few days into my work, my employer started to abuse me very badly. A friend helped me escaped after seeing the fear in my eyes and black and blue swelling on my face.
HOME took me into their shelter. I was traumatized, frightened and extremely sad. It was a good intention that brought me to work in Singapore and I cannot understand why I was treated so horribly. That was probably why so many people came to help me.
Meeting fellow Indonesians and other domestic workers from the Philippines, Myanmar and India brought some comfort and light into my life. They are great friends and a solace to know that I am not alone.
There are many activities at HOME to keep me busy. English, art & craft, cosmetology, aromatherapy and many more. All free for us to attend. Slowly, I began to overcome my shyness as I make new friends and learn new things.
I have stayed at HOME for a quite a long time now that I decided to learn to volunteer too.
I accompany other distressed domestic workers like myself to the police station, the airport, or MOM. It was not easy for me. I was nervous at first but I try to calm myself down by memorizing the routes I had to go.
Once, I even took a fellow Indonesian worker to her ex employer’s house to get her passport and her luggage. She was scared and unwilling to meet her ex employer. I tried to calm her down so she would not be too fearful and sad.
When we got to the employer’s house, she was so afraid I had to do it myself. To my surprise, her male employer was not upset at all. We even talked a little before he handed the luggage to me. But I was lucky because the female employer who was not home at the time was the one who had mistreated my friend.
I want to help people in distress because I have been in their shoes before. When I was down and in my worst condition, HOME came to my rescue. I call the staff Sisters and Brothers because they are like my family. She always gave me good advice and taught me the meaning of life. I was very shy and afraid like a wounded dog. I was afraid to go out alone and meet people especially my employer. I was traumatized and miserable from being away from my family, but I learned a lot from her. I started to be able to go out alone, even bringing people to places.
Even though my family is far away, I have many friends who are very supportive. I don’t have to be embarrassed about my mistreatment because I have done nothing wrong. Now I have found a new dream, a mission in life: helping others. But first, I have helped myself.
From someone who was shy, fearful and sad, I am now strong, brave and confident!