Category Archives: HOME events

HOME Celebrates Mother’s Day with Migrant Mothers

What a wonderful day of celebration, full of laughter, fun, enjoyment and a pinch of pain.

It’s HOME Mother’s Day celebration and everyone’s excited! Can’t wait to see what these talented migrant mothers are going to present.

Everyone gets a flower and a gift and a number for the lucky draw, isn’t that a cool way to start the celebration? Today’s celebration is dedicated to Migrant Mothers working hard away from home, from their families, just like me. We migrant mothers asked our children to send video greetings to be played during the program . Of course, I got mine too. And, I won’t deny that upon watching and hearing their messages, I got emotional and cried, and thought, Mother’s Day is not all about joy, it is a hard day for me as well.

But let me make it clear, I don’t regret being a mom, I embrace motherhood with all my heart . It’s just that, I am missing my children and I miss being a mom to them.

It’s a delight to watch that we – Filipinos, Indonesians, Burmese – are all gifted with talents that we can be proud of. Take note of how our HOME staffs are full of energy too as they join us in dancing and singing.

One of the highlights of the programme were the lucky draws where we crossed fingers for our good luck and it worked for me in the final draw. And, 10 Best Dressed for the day were chosen also. If you get a star, you are IN !

We acknowledge the presence of Ms Marivic C. Clarin, Welfare Officer of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Ibu Tantri from the Indonesian Embassy who graced the event.

The words Love, Protect and Support summed up into one word, Sacrifice – and that’s us, Mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Jo Ann A. Dumlao


HOME Sister guide art

The National Gallery Singapore is celebrating its 5 year anniversary. And in connection to this event, the Gallery invited people of all ages and all walks of life to share their interpretation of a chosen artwork from across the gallery, to be added to the artwork as a label.

      These artwork labels could be in form of writing or drawing, discussing what the artwork means to you, how it connects to you. The artwork labels will be printed and be hung on the exhibit walls next to the artwork chosen. And the name of the contributor and some information to know more about him/ her will be included for everyone to see! 

      Of course the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) Sisters Guides didn’t miss this opportunity. A list of artworks was given to them from which they could choose to create an artwork label for it.

Novia Arluma chose the ‘Land and Farmer are Free when United’ artwork by Tanah and Petani Merdeka / Menghidupi Semlia, the artists (Indonesia). She wrote a poem as her artwork label.

Novia is from Indonesia herself and has been a Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW) in Singapore for 14 years. She counsels fellow MDWs who face problems and runs Pena Novia, a blog in Bahasa. Her blog focuses on MDWs issues, rights and protection. As a Gallery Sister Guide, Novia leads fellow domestic workers in Southeast Asian art tours.

“ I feel honoured to be a part of this wonderful project. It’s another experience,” Novia said.

Bhing Navato chose ‘Defend Thy Honor’ an artwork by artist Fernando Amorsolo. (Philippines).  She also wrote a poem as her artwork label.

Bhing is from the Philippines and has been a domestic worker in Singapore for 25 years. She volunteers with HOME and writes prose and poetry. As a Gallery Sister Guide, Bhing leads fellow MDWs in Southeast Asian tours.

And Bhing said, with all smiles, “ It was such an amazing honor for me to be given the opportunity to have my own artwork label to be placed beside one of the most important artists in the Philippine history.”

Jo Ann Dumlao chose ‘Portrait of a Man in Barong Tagalog’, an artwork by artist Severino Flavier Pablo. A sketch of her son wearing Barong Tagalog is her artwork label, together with some descriptions about the Barong Tagalog.

Jo Ann is from the Philippines and has been a domestic worker in Singapore for over 13 years. She contributed to Our Homes, Our Stories, an anthology of personal stories of migrant domestic workers. As a Gallery Sister Guide, Jo Ann leads fellow MDWs in Southeast Asian tours.

“I am in high spirits, feeling great elation! Who would think that an MDW in Singapore be given the chance like this, to create an artwork label for the National Gallery Singapore. I am speechless, really on cloud nine! Thank you, NGS,” Jo Ann enthusiastically said.

We don’t get this chance often, so, when an opportunity knocks, let’s embrace it.

HOME Sister Guides are thankful to NGS in opening a window for them, in experiencing how to be a docent and enjoying the magic of artworks.

Let the magic of Art Embrace You! If you too want to experience the magic of art, do let us know and we’ll bring you to the Gallery. And it’s Free!

*Article written by Jo Ann herself a participant and one of the HOME Sisters Guide *

Draw and Create

Draw and Create with Bote Dyaryo Man at the National Gallery Singapore

Let me take you to a one awesome Sunday event at the National Gallery Singapore. This noteworthy Sunday, the Filipino Artist Robert Alejandro is with us to conduct a Tagalog workshop for the Filipino community in Singapore.

The writer and the artist

Yes, it’s Robert Alejandro, does that name sound familiar? He is an Award-Winning Graphic artist, an Illustrator, a Painter, a Crafter and one of the Pillars of Filipino Arts and Crafts shop- Papemelroti. He is also a founding member of Ang Illustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK) – an organization of children books illustrators.

Robert Alejandro proves that making Art is Fun and Unique!

Bhing Navato and I (Jo Ann Dumlao), are partners today, we are the Filipino Sister Guides of HOME. We are officially part of the Best Friends of the Gallery (BFG) volunteers. A super splendid part of our Singapore life journey.


We invited participants for the workshop through posting on social media. The event was open to the public – anyone of the Filipino Community at this time, but the main target was the Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers.

First we did a quick tour to see some art works in the museum – Ang Baraha by Filipino artist Brenda Fajardo and Those Chased Away from their Lands by Indonesian Amrus Natalsya. The participants were split into 2 groups. And they were in awe – they expressed that in how they applauded the artworks, how they admired the wide range imagination of the artists. Other participants said, they will be coming back to the NGS to see more of the artworks. They are fascinated by the art, just like me.


After the quick tour, we headed up to the workshop room where the drawing materials were waiting for us. This time, we were going to Draw and Create with the Artist.

For most of the participants, it was their first time to do drawing and water coloring. The artist was so generous that he let me and Bhing and the NGS staff join the said workshop. I can say this Art workshop was a wonderful experience, art is fun and you’ll enjoy it once you start stroking your brush. Even if you don’t know how to draw (just like me), at the end the workshop you’ll say, I did it without a sweat! We draw a pop up jeepney greeting card.


The Artist himself is very energetic (wonder where it comes from), approachable, all smiles when he mingles with us. But you know what, he is an Inspiration. With his looks and energy, you won’t know that he is now living the best years of his life after his successful battle with Colon Cancer (he was diagnosed in 2016). He is a fighter and a motivated soul.

Coming to Singapore and giving a workshop to fellow kababayans is a Dream Come True, this is what Robert Alejandro said.

Thank you to the Artist and participants. We all did well and great at the end of the day!


By Jo Ann Dumlao


Celebration time for HOME

It’s celebration time! This December HOME celebrated both International Migrants Day and their 15th year Anniversary. Every year, HOME celebrates these 2 remarkable events, which are important to us, and give us the opportunity to show  unity and oneness instilled in us Migrant Workers.


And this day was special in another way: the new Executive Director of HOME was introduced. The entire HOME team was there to wholeheartedly welcome Ms Catherine James.


We were  thankful that our very own “ Sister Big B” made it to the celebrations.  Sister Bridget Tan, the founder of HOME, had a stroke in February 2015 and has been unable to walk since, but is still the jolly one in spite of her condition and she always joins us in these celebrations. Her presence helped make the celebration such a wonderful event. Everyone was beaming with happy faces to see her, listening to her inspirational message and singing with her. We love you, sister Bridget!


All the HOME Family leaders made a speech that linked to the Migrant Workers situation and well-being. I myself represent the My Voice group.

•HOME Roses—Re- Integrate with Innovation by Zoe Menez

•HOME Nightingale—Depression is a Silent Killer by Marina

•HOME Academy—Don’t Stop Learning by Cristina

•HOME Helpdesk Lucky Plaza—Domestic Workers Right by Bhing

•HOME Suara Kita—Decent Work by Novia

•HOME Kartini—Overworked and Underpaid by Yanti

•HOME My Voice—Employer Employee Relationship by yours truly, Jo Ann

•HOME Myanmar Helpdesk—Effective Communication by Khin Lay

I can say, all were very well delivered campaigns!

As the celebrations continue, we make a toast to HOME’s Anniversary: wishing for more years to celebrate abundantly. May HOME prosper and continue to be the shelter of the abused, the defender of the hopeless and giver of strength of the less fortunate migrant workers.


Singing and dancing followed to keep the celebrations exciting and lively, and gift packs were distributed to the migrant workers. Amazing prizes for the lucky draw winners and the best-dressed from the migrant workers were handed out also. Each one of the winners received a prize. Today, abundant prizes and gift packs were given away – every migrant workers was a winner today! It was a fun filled, enjoyable day of celebrations with lots of splendid prizes and splendorous lunch. HOME staff, HOME Family leaders and volunteers were all amazing. Once again, they proved that the spirit of team work sprinkled with love is within them. So much dedication.


Written by Jo Ann Dumlao

Welcome to the world of arts


By Jo Ann Dumlao

Not even in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day I would be one of the Sister Guides at the National Gallery Singapore. But in a blink of an eye, it happened.

The National Gallery Singapore (NGS) is a modern art museum in Singapore that has the largest public collection of Southeast Asian Art in the world. The Sister Guides program is a collaboration between the NGS and HOME (the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics). In the program several volunteers are trained as mentors to lead gallery tours for our fellow migrant workers – in our home language. For me, that is in Filipino (Philippines), other languages in the program are Burmese ( Myanmar) and Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesia). There are 2 HOME volunteer mentors in each team. The great thing about this program is: there is free admission for migrant workers, and it includes refreshments after the tour!


There are several objectives for NGS and HOME to collaborate in this program, and with these, they hope to develop meaningful engagement of migrant domestic workers in their community.

  1. Develop a deeper understanding of the migrant domestic worker community In Singapore and their connection with the Gallery.
  2. Reduce access barriers for the migrant domestic worker community – become an inclusive museum.
  3. Pilot a self-empowerment/self advocacy model of engagement with a community of need.
  4. Pilot a strategy to reduce the linguistic barrier faced.
  5. Explore meaningful programmatic connections between the Gallery Children’s Biennale and the Gallery permanent exhibitions.

The tours took place on 2 Sundays in November, with different time slots for each language. To make the program successful, we invited participants by giving-out Sister Guides flyers and posting on social media.


Each group made a journey to six different artworks from the Children’s Biennale and UOB Southeast Asian Gallery. In line with the theme of the tour “Embracing Hidden Stories,” we explored hidden and untold stories through looking at artworks from Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar.

Under the guidance of the Sister Guides, participants thoroughly studied the artworks. The participants then willingly and excitedly shared their thoughts and opinions at the Q&A part of the tour. It was a delight to see how focused and interested they were! The selected artworks are connected to our lives as migrant workers, and they also speak about women, other minorities or indigenous people, about democracy and history. For me, yes, I definitely have this emotional connection to the artworks.


The feedback of the participants was great: they had fun, they gained knowledge about art and generally found the experience heart-warming and overwhelming. The most asked question afterwards was: “when is the next tour program of NGS? I will come again!” Everyone had an enjoyable experience – very different from what they thought was going to be “a boring art gallery experience.”

To us mentors, what challenged and excited us was that we did not know most of the participants, we met them only during the day of the tour. But gladly we were able to mingle and get to know the participants. Afterwards, all of the Sister Guides happily and willingly signed the volunteer form to make us officially part of the “Best Friends of Gallery “ team.

I want to say a big Thank You to the NGS for giving us – my fellow tour guides and myself this amazing opportunity. My heart is full; to see the Artworks of Juan Luna was a dream come true. He is not just an artist but also a National Hero in the Philippines. We are both from the province of Ilocos Norte.

There is no Right or Wrong in Arts, just enjoy what you are seeing and experiencing!


Helper Appreciation


By Miriam Empil Escander

Showing APPRECIATION to loved ones, friends or a mentor is an important gesture of gratitude, especially to those who impacted our life or helped us in times of need. Who doesn’t want to get appreciated?

Most of the time appreciation might not given to us, but getting it once in a while makes us more motivated to do our work and run everything smoothly. It also encourages us to do things better, even in the midst of challenging times.

As human beings we all want to be valued and recognized for our effort. I once read a quote from Sam Walton, founder of Walmart: “Appreciate everything your associates do. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise.”


We might not all be working in a big multi-million company but of all employees we migrant workers also need some appreciation as much, perhaps more than anybody. Due to entrenched poverty in our country, working overseas is the only alternative to escape from debt and hopelessness. We travel to foreign nations, legally or not, just to get out of the dark cloud of poverty. Often we do this without considering the possibility of suffering abuse or getting maltreated by inhumane employers.
Leaving our kids for a very long period of time is the worst sacrifice we’ve ever had to make as a mother. No one can argue that a young child will fully understand why mama wont be reading bed time stories at night, why mama can’t prepare breakfast in the morning before they go to school, why they can’t get a cuddle from their mama when they are sick and why mama is absent on special occasions in their lives. Often the kids who are left behind are the ones who suffer most. No matter how hard we try to believe that Skype, Messenger and Facetime offer some type of communication with them, it still doesn’t fully work to maintain a strong bond. In my case, I can’t count how many times I recieve a “Mama,kailan ka uuwi” [mama, when are you coming home] or “mama,uwi ka na” [mama, please come home].

After all these sacrifices, leaving our family back home to work abroad for their future, we only want one thing; that our employers treat us well and appreciate what we do for them, either big or small. To us that means our sacrifices have paid off well.

We work six or seven days a days a week – sometimes 24/7. I guess it’s just fair enough to at least once in a while hear we are appreciated. It helps us to wipe away our weariness and longing to our family back home.


Last September 8th 2018 , as a HOME volunteer, I was given a chance to attend an event HELPER’S APPRECIATION DAY held at Australian International School with over 300 people including helpers, employers and the kids they look after. It was such a tremendous event to witness. There was so much fun going on, activities for kids and helpers, yummylicious foods, a magic show, balloon sculpting and face painting, traditional Filipina and Indonesian dance, free painted portraits for helpers, amazing goodie bags and so on…..
As a migrant worker who got a chance to be there and participate in this event, I was so deeply moved, and we have the SASSY MAMA SINGAPORE TEAM to thank for making such a big effort to put up HELPERS APPRECIATION DAY, as well as of course all the sponsors.


International Women’s Day

Better late than never
Last Sunday, the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) celebrated  International Women’s Day. We celebrated on  March 12th instead of March 8th, because most of our HOME Family members are domestic workers, who need to work on weekdays.


The celebration started with Christian, Buddhist and Muslim prayers respectively. In the said celebration, members and audience hand in hand sang a song that delivers “If we hold on together, our dreams will never die.”


Then, it was time for dance, and each HOME Family group was represented. The best three Dance Groups were chosen by a jury of volunteers. The HOME shelter group was selected as the winner.


A jury chose 20 women from the audience to join in an  on-the-spot cat walk on the stage in a competition for  Best Dress. The criteria were the dress should suit with the theme, be carried well, and fashionable as well as elegant. All candidates in the top 10 were asked a question regarding the day’s theme (Empowerment of Women), and from there the judges picked the Top 5. All winners in each categories were given prizes.


HOME Roses group gave a demonstration on HIV/AIDS awareness, a video sharing and a great condom demonstration, a quiz, and prizes were given as well.

International Women’s day is an important day for HOME, for domestic workers, and for all women. We are proud to promote women’s rights!


All the  HOME Family leaders (I represented My Voice Family) gave a short message to the audience about International Women’s Day–Empowerment of Women, as this year’s theme.


A Petition from HOME members/foreign domestic workers in the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and India was read-out-loud, in which they expressed what they are going through in their employers home. It all summed up into one important point: The rights and dignity of foreign domestic workers should be given the utmost attention by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). To formalise the Petition, foreign doemstic workers and guests present signed the Petition letter to be passed on to MOM.

Respect our rights, respect our dignity as workers.


By Jo Ann Dumlao


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.



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.