All posts by myvoiceathome

Tears In My Eyes

By Rosita Sanchez

 

Tears In My Eyes

It started one day

When I fell in love with you

My days were filled with laughter and happiness

I was content and I felt complete

 

My life has changed because of you.

I am not the same girl as before.

My days, my time, changing so fast.

Even the sun and the moon are competing with each other.

 

But what happened one day?

Where are you? Why can’t I see you?

Is there something wrong my love?

Please tell me, I’m dying to be with you.

 

Days, months and even years have passed us by.

I feel a deep sadness and my tears keep flowing.

Have you forgotten me? Have you left me?

 

You just walk away like the wind.

What I feel will never be seen.

 

A gift from you makes me feel strong.

A life with you makes my life continue on.

It feels like yesterday that we were together.

 

I thank God for the son that we have.

I trust Him and surrender my questions because right now I am happy with our son.

 

Tears keep falling from my eyes, that one day you will wipe them off and make them dry.

Now the time has come and this little voice says to me, “Mama, stop crying, I’m here, I love you.”

This sweet voice makes my heart calm.

 

Where ever you are, where ever you go,

Thank you for the day that made me feel a woman. It made my dreams come true to be a mother and to have a son with the man I love so much.

 

I have these tears in my eyes but now the tears are flowing because of the happiness that our son gives me.

Freedom

by Saturnina De Los Santos Rotelo “ Cute”

 

Freedom is a controversial word.

I love having the freedom of my own space, my own place. I like doing things on my own terms, and not really having to think about anybody else’s schedule. As a migrant worker, freedom is a word that I’m longing for.

Freedom is word that lots of people want or wish for. Maria is a domestic helper whom I meet in the market, where we talk about what she misses. While we are having tea and prata she tells me about a lot of things that she misses after working in Singapore for many years.

With teary eyes, Maria tells me how she misses eating without having only 15 minutes to finish her food, and eating without someone calling her name to do things before she finishes. She misses the freedom to go sleep after she has finished her work, without having to wait for her boss to finish watching T.V. because she sleeps on the sofa in the living room. The freedom to wake up when she wants to, instead of at 5:00 am every morning as her employer tells her.

Maria misses the freedom of speech, to reason with her employer when there is a misunderstanding, or when she does something not according to her employer’s wishes. She needs to give an explanation, or apology, but ends up verbally abused if she talks back.

Maria misses the freedom to have a whole Sunday off, to go church, unwind with her friends without doing the work first before she leaves the house at 11:00 am and before she goes home at 6:00 pm to work again. She should be happy; some of her friends are not allowed to have a day off.

Freedom for a domestic worker is limited, if she has it at all. Everyone loves freedom, but a lot of people don’t understand the meaning of the word, or refuse to understand it. They let other people suffer, just so they have more freedom themselves.

So my dear migrants what freedoms you are longing for?

             “The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is courage”

 

From the heart of a volunteer

I’m a domestic worker.  There’s nothing much that I can do, the nature of my work controls me, and what I want to do. Time is so precious for me, because I can only go out once a week. That day, I must spend my time on things I cannot do on weekdays. One day is not enough for many activities, and I have to plan my days off carefully. Aside from this, my thoughts are also with my fellow domestic workers who cannot speak for themselves, who don’t know what to do with their abusive employers, and who don’t even have a day off. I see them every day. My heart breaks when I see them being scolded in public by their employers. They cannot ask for help because their phone has been confiscated. They give me that “don’t talk to me” look, because they are not allowed to talk to others. There are so many of them here; domestic workers that suffer.

I have been blessed with good employers for so many years. With my great experience, I thought, I can help them, those that have been less fortunate. I can give advice that will help to ease their work problems. That is why I decided to volunteer with HOME. Doing this gives justice to my precious time, spending it in the best way. Being a volunteer to HOME Helpdesk gives me joy, especially when I see smiles on my peers faces. It means hope. It means trust. It is not easy listening to their problems. I must listen carefully to how they narrate their story to me. Sometimes, I get affected. While listening, I will put myself in their shoes. I empathize with them. But I need to show a brave front to assure them that it will be ok. Though it is not always like that. There are times that my peers will not like the solution I can offer, so I must think of a nice way to tell it to them. The most important thing is that they need to understand their situation. Sometimes, I will follow up on them to make sure they are okay. Sunday is not the only day I do my volunteering. I do it almost every day, through phone calls and messenger, day or night. I cannot ignore their calls.  Domestic workers that I spoke to, will share my phone number with their friends who needs advice too. And I appreciate it so much because I know this means they trust me. Some of them became my friends. I thank them for helping their friends. And that is the joy of being a volunteer.

Sometimes others do not understand why I do it, why I volunteer on my one day off? It is simply because I love doing it. I am a domestic worker, I cannot do everything but at least I can do something.

 

#bhingnavato

Domestic workers fight for themselves

Novia Arluma works for HOME’s Indonesian helpdesk in Grandlink Square, where she volunteers on her Sundays off to help and advise other Indonesian Domestic Workers in Singapore. She wrote this story about a woman she saw there yesterday.

These photographs show some real living conditions of an Indonesian Domestic Worker who came to our HOME office yesterday. The woman told me she was overworked, ate only  leftover food ( which always came very late), and her room was improper – a storage room. From what I see at the helpdesk regularly, all of this are common examples of what employers give to their domestic workers. This domestic worker had to get up @ 5 am in the morning, to start doing her house chores until 11 or 12pm late at night.

Even the regulations of MOM (Ministry of Manpower) say that Domestic Workers should be treated fairly, that she needs reasonable working hours, proper food, and the privacy of a room to rest in.

MOM agrees, you should treat us like other workers. Treat us as human beings
But, most of this rules are  merely written on  paper.
As a domestic worker we can not complain too much about these matters.
Yes, we can complain…
Yes, we can report…
Yes, we have the option to transfer to another employer…
But in the end…
The employer still holds the power.
Because even when they are not treating their domestic worker fairly, employers have the full power to decide either to transfer the domestic worker, or to cancel the work permit and send them home.

We domestic workers have to fight for ourselves. We need to negotiate about a day off, our salary, and our release papers in order to transfer to another employer.

HOME ( the Humanitarian Organization of Migrant Economics) provides shelter and assistance to all migrant workers who need help, and that includes consultations from our helpdesk that is run by volunteers from different sending countries, like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar. Our volunteers are domestic workers themselves, and have been trained to understand their and your rights. Using volunteers that are domestic workers themselves helps HOME reach out better, and ensure easier communication, where needed in your own language.

Our helpdesks are open every Sunday:

Helpdesk for Filipino domestic workers:

  • 304 Orchard Road, Lucky Plaza #06-22, Singapore 23886

Helpdesk for Burmese workers:

  • 111 North Bridge Road, Peninsula Plaza #05-22, Singapore 179098

Helpdesk for Indonesian domestic workers and other migrant workers:

  • 511 Guillemard Road #01-06, Singapore 399849

 

Telephone hotline for domestic workers:

1800-797 7977 / +65 6341 5525

Who am I?

The writer of this poem, Anna Rose, stayed in HOME shelter for some time after a bad experience with an employer that left her very upset. Anna Rose struggled with her identity, and what to do with her life going forward. She has now returned home to the Philippines. 

 

Who am I?

 

I am a child

Who will never stop believing

I am the dreamer

Who will never stop dreaming

I am the woman

Who will never stop caring

 

They see the finished adult

That they expect me to be

But I don’t know

Who I want to be?

 

So many pressures, do this

Don’t do that

Wear this, don’t wear that

Buy this, don’t buy that

 

Who to believe? Who to trust?

To help me be the person I want to be

Still not sure who that is

Who am I and what will I be?

 

Two different questions

But people expect one answer

 

Which career will I choose?

But really is that the most important?

What about good or bad,

Lazy or hardworking

It depends on the task if I like it or not

 

So the question is not, who am I?

But who will I become?

Are OFW’s our new heroes?

Anna Rose stayed in HOME shelter some time after a bad experience with an employer that left her very upset. In this essay she reflects about her experiences as an Overseas Foreign Worker in Singapore and at HOME shelter. She has now returned to the Philippines to be with her family.

Why do people say that OFWs are our new heroes? Do the OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers) who try their luck overseas make a big contribution to our country, the Philippines? Many Filipinos want to move away from their motherland and work abroad because they want to turn things around for their families.

The majority of us know the risks of working in another country. We have heard a lot of stories of OFWs who suffered abuse from their foreign employers, there are enough to scare us, or at least make us think twice about working across the border. But still a lot of us Filipinos offer our services in other countries, carrying the desire and optimism that we will give our loved ones a better future.

There are a lot of reasons why people should appreciate what foreign workers do, and that is why they are considered one of today’s modern heroes.

Foreign employers like Filipino workers because they are hard working. Why? We have a strong motivation to take our job seriously. We want to make our employers feel that we deserve every penny that we receive. We have a strong work ethic and are professional, and we should be proud of that. Based on my own experience as an OFW I can also say that we are flexible, and can easily adapt to new environments. OFWs do not only take their job seriously, we also put our heart into it. Since we are thousands of miles away from our families, we divert our attention to the ones we are working for.

Unfortunately some of the OFWs experience maltreatment from their employers. There are many stories about OFWs experiencing abuse, ill-treatment, torture, and bullying, and because of this they decide to run away. We are lucky that there is a non-governmental organization that helps OFWs facing these kind of situations. They are the ones to take care of the OFWs, and comfort us when we come to them. They also have a lot of activities in the shelter that help us develop our self-confidence and self-esteem. They give us free food and safety when we live at the shelter, and they give us counselling, encouraging us to express our emotions, and feelings. They help all individuals with their problems, and give them advice on how to move forward, and face our struggles in life.

On my behalf, I was given a chance to write this essay, just to express my thoughts and give thanks to the HUMANITARIAN ORGANISATION OF MIGRANT ECONOMICS (HOME), to salute them, and all the volunteers, and the people who are part of HOME and serve all the OFWs by making a difference in the lives of people in Singapore.

Thank you, and more power to HOME!

Who cares?

Who cares if we are a helper
Who cares if we have a bad employer
Who cares if we have a problem
Who cares if we can’t dance with the rhythm
Can you feel us?
 Who cares
When we’re being maltreated inside the house
When we’re being abused and scared like a mouse
When we’re being locked up and no one to turn to
When we don’t have enough food yet too much work to do.
Can you see us?
 We’re not perfect but we are doing our best
We always  wanted to satisfy your needs
We’re working hard to accomplish the tasks on your list
We follow everything as you say so
But you are not content with everything we do
Why must you say we’re stupid
Why must you say we’re a lazy and idiot maid.
 Who cares?
Who washes your dirty clothes
Who does the cleaning of your house
Who cooks your everyday meal
Who does the marketing and budgeting
Who washes your cars
Who looks after your kids or your sick parents
No other than this idiot maid you are referring to
And who cares?
You’re a manager and I am a maid
But we still both earn money
You eat pizza, I eat noodles
But we still both eat to our satisfaction
You drive your car, I ride a bus
But we still both reach our destination
You wear branded clothes, I wear simple one
But we still both cover our nakedness
We’re both human but don’t have the same way of living
You were treated highly
We were treated lowly
We’re both human but are treated differently.
And who cares?
Can you feel us? Please hear us
Don’t treat us like a prisoners
Don’t treat us like a robot
Don’t treat us as if you own us
Yes you pay, but we work so hard
You pay for the service
but you don’t own our life.
We respect you
Hoping you will respect us too.
By Rea Maac