A story from HOME shelter

My life in the country is very simple. We live in a very small island in Luzon in the reef. Living there is very difficult for us because we need to go to universities or find jobs in another place than our island. We have to wake up early and ride in a motor boat. If the weather is not good or if there is a typhoon we have no choice but to stay in our house.

In 2010 it was not easy to find a job because of the global recession and that’s why I decided to apply for a job in another country. One of my friends invited me to apply to Singapore. Without any hesitation I immediately applied to a job as a domestic helper even if my parents didn’t approve. It was very easy to find a job, after two weeks the agency had found an employer for me. The job scope was general housekeeping with a salary of 450 and no off days. There was a 7 months deduction of the salary for the agency fees. Even if the work conditions are this way, I told myself that it was going to be easy and the days would pass very fast. I really wanted to help my parents and siblings and I didn’t want to stay in the house with nothing to do.

On the flight to Singapore in March 2011 I had mixed emotions. I was both happy and nervous, I felt like crying. But I decided to stand tall and I told myself: “This is it, I can do it for my family”. In my first steps in Singapore my legs were shaking, I didn’t know what to do or where to go. But then the agent came for me and took me to the agency accommodation. They trained me for 3 weeks first, and when the training was finished, they took me to my employer.

I had several different employers in the first months in Singapore, but with the 4th employer I stayed for 4 years and 2 months. There were a lot of challenges, but I was happy to be a part of that family. They were very kind and generous, especially my sir. All of them were good except the son. He is 36 years old, and lives in the third floor of the house. He was really challenging me. I had to come up there to clean his room, and he would insult me and call me names. He was very rude to me. I tried to avoid him and not talk to him, but it wasn’t easy. I still can say I passed, because I stayed there for so long.

Then one thing happened that I couldn’t take it anymore. My employer’s son hit me between my jaw and my ear on my off day. It wasn’t the first time he hit me, but the fact that this happened on my off day made it worse. I just couldn’t accept it, so I told my employer. This was the first time I complained about his son. My employer was shocked. He couldn’t believe that his son could do such a thing. He said: “It’s your off day. Go out and enjoy, I will talk to him.”

The next day was Monday and my sir called me and we talked about what had happened. Then he said that he would send me back to the Philippines. I asked him why, I only told him what had happened to let him know and for him to talk to his son so he wouldn’t do it again. I begged him to let me transfer instead, I wanted to stay in Singapore and find another job. But they had decided already.

After a week I decided to go to HOME to ask for help. I am very happy that they help me and that I was welcome to the shelter. My employer is now under investigation, so I can’t go back to the Philippines.

 The author of this story is staying at HOME shelter during the investigations into her case, and to protect her privacy, she prefers to stay anonymous

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