Category Archives: HOME shelter

Sister, brother, love

During an English class at HOME shelter the residents were given the homework to write about their family, and specifically the relationship and the love between siblings. This resulted in some beautiful writing that we are happy to share with you today.

From Ana Barzo

To My Younger Sister.
I chose to write about her among our siblings because she is the one closest to me.
We are not only sisters, we are also best friends… even if in life we can’t avoid some arguments, has we had mostly when we were teenagers.
We have never competed, but she always thought I was mum’s favourite!
We are very different, in our way of thinking as well as in our physical appearance, but i really love her so much!
Even if I am older she is more mature than me.
She is a very talented person; she accomplished her studies in BS Agriculture and she is now working as supervisor in an agriculture company.
I admire her because even if I am far away she always remembers me and recalls special, funny moments of our life, as we had a shower or played together, to make me smile. I am so thankful and blessed to have a sister like her, because mostly now, being stocked without working, she takes care of all the responsibilities instead of me, gives financial support to my two kids and most of all she gives them her affection!
I love you so much sister, you are in my heart now and forever… I miss you so much
Love&Care
Ana

From Myra Pedronan

I have a very good relationship both with my sister and my brother.
I am the second child, very close to my sister and I am her big fan. I like all about her, except the way she handles her temper, but we are best friends.
When I was still young though we had a good relationship we weren’t so close as today. Now our bond is very strong.
When i came to Singapore, she was already here, and every time we buy dresses which are the kind of clothing we both are obsessed with, we buy the same shoes/sandals and we wear them the same day and everyone asks if we are twins!
She is a very caring, loving, approchable and responsible sister and daughter.
She gives more than what she takes, she is very hardworking and she is always thinking how to payback the sacrifice my parents made for her, for us.
She supports me whatever decision I make, so I can tell her even my secrets and so can she. I love her with all my heart, together with my brother!

From May Joy

“A woman without a sister is like a bird without wings”
When we were young my second sister was my worst enemy: she was convinced that my parents loved me more than her.
But the we grew up that feeling of rivalry turned into the strongest relationship ever.
Now she is always there to help me and I can rely on her either financially or emotionally.
Although my mother in law is taking car of my son, my sister always finds time to visit him and provide to his needs.It is particularly important now that I am away to work to know that she is there showing her love to him!
When I was pregnant she provided me with all my needs, including babies clothes, shampoo, cream even cotton puds when I was in the hospital!
That’s why I can say that having a sister in your life is like having a very best friend. Because a sister will always be there you, always stand by you no matter what will happen!

From Roda S. Misasa

Out of my eight siblings there are especially two I am very attached to. Tough we all has a very good relationship I feel so thankful for having Myra and Leah as sisters.
actually they are not really my own sisters, they are my 1st cousins, but we grew up together, we shared the same house, we shared the same room, the same bed…
My parents took care of them since they were babies, because both their parents passed away.
Myla and Leah are more than sisters, they are my best friends, my biggest supporters and defenders. I can tell them everything and they are always there for me especially when I am down they know how to cheer me up giving me good advices, courage and strength. I am the oldest but they are more mature than me. They changed my life, I can say that they both are the answers to my prayers… I have always asked my parents for a sister, but no… all boys… Until one day Mayla and Leah came into our home, my life!

First Moments

During a creative writing workshop residents of the HOME shelter, all migrant domestic workers, were asked to reminisce about their first moments in Singapore.

Roselyn

When I arrived in Singapore, I thought it was very different from my country, the Philippines. I arrived on June 23rd at 10.30pm. I did not understand how Changi Airport worked, and I prayed to God; I was confident that he would guide me. I asked a lot of people where the exit was, and what I should I do, but nobody had the answer. Finally somebody came to fetch me at 2 am. He took me to an accommodation, but I did not understand where I was in Singapore until they took me to my first employer. I experienced a very difficult situation there. I became tired, depressed and very homesick. I had to do a lot of work, and lacked rest. Until I got sick and could not continue. Fortunately, I managed to change employers.

Mimi

When I first came in Singapore, I felt dizzy and hungry while waiting at the airport for someone to fetch me. I was so nervous. Then, unexpectedly, I saw two celebrities from the Philippines, Kean Ciprianno of Collalily Band and his wife Chynna Ortaleza. I was so ecstatic!! I took a photo with them. After that, I bought a coffee, and I was in shock; it was so small but it costed so much.

During my stay at my employer’s house, I had mixed emotions. I did not have enough rest and food. They kept my phone, and there was no way for me to communicate with my family. When I ate, the daughter of my family told me I ate too much while I was only eating bread and worked very hard.

Aires*

When I arrived in Singapore, I was so excited but I also felt nervous. It was the first time that I was traveling abroad to work. I thought that Singapore was a nice place because my friend talked a lot about Singapore. But with my first employer I was very upset because she did not understand me. We were always arguing about the proper way to speak English. My ma’am did not know how to speak English, which is why we had so many misunderstandings. She was always screaming and angry and really did not appreciate me. I was so disappointed.

Giraflor

When I arrived in Singapore, I was very timid and I needed to control my emotions to prevent homesickness. It was all very overwhelming;  I thought my dreams in life would finally come true, after 5 years.

But when I stepped into my first employer’s house, I was surprised and disappointed. Inside the house lives seven adults and three kids. It was a 4-storey private house with a swimming pool. There was no MRT station nearby. I needed to wake up at 4 am and always went to bed very late. I could not eat when I was very hungry, I needed to wait for them to finish eating first. And they always had their dinner very late.

The most difficult thing was that I needed to adjust to each and every one of them. Many times, when they knew that they were wrong,  they wanted me to say sorry to them; even if I did not do anything wrong.

Jessa*

When I first saw Singapore, I told myself; it is so beautiful. All you see is buildings. I could not see any tricycles; only cars and motorcycles, unlike in my country. And all the people here have different languages and religions.

When I went to my employer’s house I was amazed at how big the house was, and how  many things there were inside. Then my Indonesian friend told me  how to clean the house. I was shocked because when I thought the house was already very clean (compared to what I was used to in my country), we still had to clean it more! Working here in Singapore is not easy, because we must clean all the time. And the children are so spoiled. We must do what they want. Sometimes, they shout, they kick our legs, slap our face, but we cannot say anything because they are the children of our employers.

Emmy

My first days in Singapore were unforgettable and amazing. For the first time, I could see the places that I had dreamed of when I saw them on television and paintings. When I arrived at Singapore Changi airport, I felt nervous and happy at the same time. Nervous, because I did not know anything about the place where I would work and live for 2 years. Happy, because I would see my sister again, who I had not seen for the past seven years. She hugged me and said “Welcome to Singapore; be strong and be a fighter”. I never forgot those words. They were so true.

Jenifer*

Before arriving in Singapore, I imagined that I would be able to go to places that I really wanted to go to like Sentosa, Gardens by the Bay, etc… That I would eat different kinds of food from different countries and take pictures of all the places I would go to. But this was only a dream.

My beginning in Singapore was very difficult. I had to adjust to so many things. I had to learn so much. The day I arrived at my employer’s house, I was very excited but also nervous. Very soon, I got disappointed. In the one year and two months that I worked there, I did not get a single day off. I could not visit a single place.

Lisa*

My experience here in Singapore has been very special. At my employer, there were a lot of tasks inside the house; we were working non-stop. The only moment we could rest was  sleeping time. If I made mistakes, my employer always asked the questions and gave the answers himself, not letting me defend myself. I was physically tired but just as much mentally. The kids were sometimes fine but sometimes, they kicked me or punched me. I felt miserable. After a full day of work but I would have additional physical pain due to what the kids were doing to me.

But one day I decided to leave my employer. I will now go outside and see how beautiful Singapore is. Hopefully I can visit the Singapore zoo, the Gardens by the Bay, the Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands towers. I really feel happy now in Singapore.

*name changed for privacy purposes

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!

Letters full of feelings

During a creative writing class at HOME shelter, we decided to write letters. The recipients of our letters are people we are missing, people we love and are not by our sides, people who passed away, or even people we have had arguments with. With these letters, we are telling them things that stayed unsaid, feelings and emotions, love.

Fichier_000

To my mother,

Do you remember when you taught me how to write a letter? I never wrote a letter to you ever since. You always taught me how to write letters to my father.

I want you to know that I miss you a lot. I miss when we talked and laughed together. I know you were looking after me all the time. I miss you looking after us. I miss when we had arguments and misunderstandings. I learnt so much from you although we were not so close. But I know you really loved me, loved us… Mother… I miss your voice really. I miss you when I cry and you are not here to hug me. I miss your generosity, your understanding, love, and caring.

I hope you are happy wherever you are. And do not worry about me. I know and you know that I can face any difficulty. In every life struggle, I can stand. I know you will lend your hand and hold me in every way. God will be there for us as you always told me. I Love you so much…

Your loving daughter, Richy.

 

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To my loving son, Jacob Ryll,

I remember the first time I saw you. It has been nine months that I have been carrying you inside my stomach. I cannot explain my feelings the day I saw you: if I cried, laughed, or whatever. But I felt I wan a big price, like a jackpot. You brought happiness in my life… For me you are the best precious treasure I have in my life. Thank you for the moments that we have together and thank you for giving me the chance to be a mother and do my role as your mother.

I am so proud because I know you are a good boy, respectful and smart. I miss our bonding and your hugs, kisses, your laugh and also your cries. I miss you to call me mommy. I know you are just a kid so no need for you to know what is happening to me here in Singapore. Baby you are my strength and inspiration. I love you so much. Thanks for being a part of my life. Get well soon. Mommy is coming home. I love you so much.

                                                                                                            Mommy Yin

 

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Dear employer,

Ma’am you were always scolding me. You were always criticizing me, my people, my country. You are naughty. But I loved your big dog and your two daughters. The eldest is fourteen and your young daughter is eleven years old. She loses her mind sometimes. I love her and she loves me so much too. You did not like that the two of us were so close. I was very sad. Your youngest daughter wanted to talk to everybody but they did not want to talk to her because they thought she was a stupid girl. I am different. I don’t see her as a stupid girl. I was taking care of her very well. So she was very happy and loved me a lot. But you did not like that she loved me so much, that we were so close. Now I am very sad because I had no choice than leaving you. You were too bad with me. I had no choice than leaving her because of you. I will never forget your daughter during my entire life.

Sincerely, KTW

 

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My dear sisters at HOME shelter,

I hope all of you are always healthy and had a good day. I will always miss you my sisters. I was so happy with all of you. We are a family. When I think about my family at home, I know I must get a job, I must go out of the shelter cause I must find an employer. If I stay at the shelter with all m sisters, enjoying all the activities, what will happen to my family in my country who is waiting for my money?

My dear sisters, thank you for supporting me. I am now more experienced with all the activities. Preparing good meals, yoga, learning English, dancing… I will never forget that during all my life. All these activities made me more experienced. I love you and already miss you so much.

Arni

 

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To the special person in my life,

I am sorry sometimes I scold you. Remember I am doing this for your own good. I really miss when I sleep with you, when I prepare your food, iron your uniform, prepare your things for school. When I give you your vitamins everyday. Remember when I tell you to drink more water? I love you my baby and I miss you so much. I know you love me and miss me too. Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for being a good son for me. I know you want me to go home but I need to work to support all your needs. Don’t worry, I’m ok here. Take care, always.

Love, Mama Kassie .

 

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To my employer,

I really enjoyed looking after your three kids. But you were always giving me your angry face and scolding me. So I became unhappy with you and I decided to go back to my parents. Oh, I am so happy for that. You really did not like me; I don’t know why. Why you were always angry at me? I took care of your kids. But you were showing me your angry face all the time. So I did not want to stay at your place anymore. But your three kids, I really, really love them so much. Now I am missing them more than ever. So, I am not feeling good.

TSM

 

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To my parents,

Father, mother, how are you today? Do you remember me everyday? Everyday I am sad because I really miss you. All the time, I am always thinking about you, only you, because you are so special to me.

I don’t know when I can meet with you again. I want to go back home. I don’t want to live in Singapore anymore. Because life in Singapore is not easy; it is very difficult. Before, I thought living in Singapore would be easy but I was wrong. Living in Singapore is very difficult. Everyday I pray to my God. My God please help me. I want to go back to my country. But don’t worry mother, I am fine here.

Your daughter, May

 

A day off

Off day- the favourite day of a domestic worker?

The off day can be the favourite day for a domestic worker. It is her time to go out, to meet friends and enjoy herself. But many domestic workers experience different problems with their off days as well. Some might have just one a month, some have to do work this day, some might not even have one. Here are some women staying at the shelter sharing their experiences with the off days.

Emi:

When I stayed at my last employer, I had one off day from work every month. In the mornings I normally woke up at 5.15am and I went to bed at 11pm, so when it was the end of the month, I felt excited. Soon I could have my rest day. I felt tired during the work days, I had no time to rest. I was supposed to have one off day every week, but the employer just gave me one per month.

All us domestic workers are waiting for Sunday, the off day. I woke up Sunday morning, cleaned the house, made breakfast and waited for my employer to wake up. Because before I could leave, my mam always checked my bag, my pants and my jacket. When she let me out of the house, she always told me:

“You must come back before 5.30, and be back on time.”

When I came out of my employer’s house I felt so fresh and like a butterfly. I felt sick of my work, no time to stop, no time to rest, and now I could go out! I was very happy. I could eat what I want, even rice and chili. I was sick of the food I had at my employer’s house. All the time noodles and sausage, noodles and sausage.

The first place I went on my off day, was to Paya Lebar to send money home. It always takes a long time to queue, sometimes from 11 until 1 or 1.30.

After I sent the money I went out to find another place where there is not so much people. Paya Lebar is a place where all Indonesian domestic workers come. I could see many people there, from a lot of different countries. I had only one friend, a girl who worked for a neighbour, near my employer. We bought newspapers, some clothes, sometimes our food. We sat down under a tree and I enjoyed my off day. I felt that I could finally rest.

Richy:

As I experienced the off day, I was always rushing. Before my off day, I would always plan where I should go and who I should meet. But before I went I had to do some work, I had to take care of the children, to feed them, shower them even if it is my off day.

Then finally at 10 in the morning I was off. I was rushing. I only had 9 hours to enjoy, to meet friends, to take pictures. If I had my salary, I first needed to send money to my home country. Off days for others is a very happy day, but for me I wanted to go by myself sometimes, to rest, to find a quiet place where I could reminiscence.

Sometimes, when I didn’t have enough money, I would stay in the house on my off day to work, although it was very tiring.

Sometimes on my off days I was scared as well. Outside the house, you don’t know who you can trust. I sometimes went to parties, but I didn’t stay long

When I came back from the off day, there was always some work to be done.

 

Sumarni:

I used to feel so happy when I had my off day. Then I could relax and meet my friends. We would go to the East Coast Park to see the sea. I could go to the library to read a book. I could also eat some food that was different from the food I had at home. My mind felt refreshed, because I could see many places that I hadn’t seen before. If I had a problem, I could meet my friends and share my feelings. After that my heart would feel happy.

Then, with my new employer, I never had an off day. I just worked there for 4 months, but she never gave me a day off. I felt tired and bored, every day doing the same thing, just work and work. The mam was always scolding me. In the end I ran away.

 

“Annalyn”:

The first six months in my employer’s house, I couldn’t take a day off because I had to finish my salary deduction. After six months, they allowed me to take one day off every month. Before I left the house, I had to do some chores, like cleaning the living room.

I left the house at 8 am and I needed to back at 7pm.

In the morning, I went to church to attend mass. After that I went to remittance to send money home. Then I met my cousins and my friends. We had long conversations to share with each other everything that had happened until the day finished, and it was time to go back.

When I reached my employer’s house, it was time to do some house chores again, before going to bed.

 

Leny:

The off day is a happy day because I meet new friends, see many beautiful places outside. I feel free and relaxed from all the stress inside the house. I go to church to pray that all my wishes for my family is granted, especially for my loving son.

Shelter life

Every week between 60 and 80 women stay at the HOME shelter. Here they receive what they need in terms of food, clothing and hygiene kits. HOME also assists them with their cases, and listens to their sometimes heartbreaking stories. Every week the women can take part in a wide range of activities and classes. In the writing class last week, the participants wrote about some of their experiences at the shelter.

writing-class-group

Lea:

I am Lea, I have been here for 3 days. During my experience, here, I am learning a lot every day. I do my things and I also join all the activities here. The volunteers are very nice and very good. They teach and explain many things.

At the shelter, I feel comfortable. Here there is no stress, I have a lot of sisters; we share and talk every day. I am so blessed and lucky to be here because the people here are very helpful to each other’s. I am very happy to be here.

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Annalyn:

I arrived here last Sunday at night, I decided to come here for help because I can’t trust my agent and my employer. When I am here, I feel safe and comfortable. I experience a lot of things like attending yoga, cooking and baking class, English. It is so much fun and interesting! I love it because I can relax and also challenge myself.

They treat me like a sister. We stay here like in our home. We have freedom. They help us to improve ourselves, they teach us to respect each other and to help each other.

Ana Marie:

Here at HOME organization, I experience being treated as a real human. The people here have a heart and have patience to listen to your story. And they provide good food so that we can eat properly and not pass the meals. They bring us to activities that we can enjoy; it helps us with forgetting our worries and laugh with friends.

The volunteers here are very nice and have also good hearts. They provide all the needs and make sure we are happy and feel safe. That is why I am so blessed to be here right now.

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Maeya:

I am from the Philippines, I am 35 years old. I ran away because my boss doesn’t want to give me off day and was scolding me all the time. Since I arrived at HOME I feel much safer. I feel peaceful in my mind. I can go out of my problems because I can talk with people, not like before when I was at my employer’s house. Here I sleep well, I learn more English. I am happy here. And I meet some friends from Myanmar, Indonesia, and of course, from the Philippines.

Joy:

The first day at the shelter I was so worried because I didn’t have anything. I only brought a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. I worried about how long I was going to stay here. Suddenly the leader of the shelter found out that I had no clothes, and she gave me a plastic bag full of nice clothes and everything I needed, such as toothpaste, toothbrush, soap and towel. I felt so happy.

The next day I made some friends and we talked about our experiences and why we had run away. It was a relief to talk to them. We always talk, laugh and joke and we do activities together like yoga class, baking, cooking and English. The most unforgettable moment was in the English writing class, where I wrote a poem and a short story about my life. This was the first time I told anyone about my life from I was young until now, I never shared this with anyone.

I feel happy about my everyday life here. I wake up at 5 am to prepare breakfast, but I am never tired because all of us have a different story and we must help each other. I know what it feels like when no one takes care of you. I am going to miss my friends here after my case is finished.

writing-class-illustrations3

Catherine:

I feel so comfortable when I stay here and I think of this place as my second home. Sometimes we who live here don’t understand each other because we come from different countries and speak different languages, we have different cultures and so many other things, but we can still relate to each other’s feelings. We all want a better life. I am so happy when I see a friend go home or to another employer, because then I know that they can start again on a new journey of life. Sadness can happen in a life, but we need to continue our lives for our families.

Jessica:

I felt very scared when I first came to the shelter, but HOME made me feel like I was not alone anymore. For almost two months they have taken care of me and helped me to process my case. I feel they are like family, I feel cared for, I feel comfortable. I met a lot of friends from other countries and they made me wake up from the bad dream that was my employer’s house.

HOME helped me to become stronger than I was before, I can eat properly, I sleep well and no one can beat me or make me unhappy anymore. I know how to laugh again and I wake up every morning with a smile.

I want to thank the volunteers also to keep on helping HOME. If they were not there, we couldn’t stay here for so long and they understand our situation.

I thank God now that I can soon go HOME to my family, and I thank HOME for the comfort and care. I will never forget what you have done for me!

The beautiful drawings shown were made during one of HOME writing classes by artist Carla Talopp.

© 2017 Carla Tallopp

True story

This January HOME shelter hosted a workshop by Writing Through, a charity teaching language fluency, conceptual thought and self-esteem through creative writing. Over the course of the week the students took part in brainstorming sessions with images and song lyrics to create their own poems and short stories.

Rhea: True Story

By Realyn, Age 26, (Philippines)

There is a girl name Rhea, she is 26 years old now, she is a happy person now and has a lot of friends. She is still single until now because in her mind she is focussing to achieve her dreams for herself and her family.

Rhea was living in her grandparents’ house near the mountains since she was a 6 months old baby because her mother needed to find a job to raise her and support her needs. But Rhea don’t know that was why her mother left her, and when Rhea grew up and asked her grandparents about her mother and father her grandparents only told her about her mother.

When Rhea started to go to primary school when she was 6 years old she always got bullied by her classmates.

They always said “Ha ha ha ha, Rhea doesn’t have parents because when we have parent’s meetings only your grandparents attend.”

She asked her grandparents again that day, ‘Where is my mother and father?” But her grandfather said, “Your mother has a new family now and your father, we don’t know him since your mother came back from the city where she worked”.

That time Rhea realised and understood that’s why she always bullied not only by her classmates but the other kids too because they know that Rhea doesn’t have a father.

She is always thinking to run and to hide from everyone because of her situation, she feels like she is alone in a desert but Rhea doesn’t give up, she keeps fighting for herself and for her grandparents.

 

But when she was in a high school her grandfather passed away, she was sad and crying in the rain asking to God why this is happening to her, “I am a good girl, why God? Why?”

After Rhea graduated from high school she always kept fighting to live not only for her, but for her grandmother. But sometimes she thinks about her biological father, she wishes that one day she will find him and know him, hug him and tell him that she loves him, even though he left and didn’t find her and her mother. Until now she is still wishing to find her father because she’s so thankful even though she grew up without her father.