Category Archives: HOME shelter

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.



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.



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.



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.


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.



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.


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.

Writing Through

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, a selection of poetry written by shelter residents is shown below.

New Beginnings

A group poem

HOME is a safe place and gives you peace of mind. HOME is comfort
HOME is like a family,
Enjoy friends and share different experiences, Teaching and comforting.

Asking for help and security
Crying, too much thinking…
Freedom and NEW beginnings?
Happy and smiling together while relaxing.




by Jessica, Age 25, (Philippines)

Here in shelter, I feel the comfort.
I refresh my mind and am hoping to recover.
I feel the emotion.
I always keep on praying
I miss my parents and family,
and hoping for a new beginning on my journey.



What is life all about?

by Joy, Age 26, (Philippines)

Life is not about money.
you become happy if you have friends, become united, place to stay with comfortable, silence, prayer
hard work and peaceful place that
make you relax. life is colourful,
is not about religion

it’s about what life take you and how you react on that. life is so magical that like a rainbow
that gave new beginning.



My Mother

By Michelle T Cain

Ever since I was young, I have idolized my mother. I could see she was always taking care of us. When I was young, she supported me in every way she could. When I joined a kids’ contest she was always there for me. I come from a broken family. My father left us when I was in secondary school and my mother was the one who had to feed us and provide for our needs, since my father was not supporting us anymore.

I know that my mother did her best just to make us finish school and to give us a good life – even though I could see that she always felt so tired. And now that I have my own family, my mother is the one who takes care of my daughter while I’m away working in a foreign country. My mother never leaves me, especially on my hardest days. And now she is also teaching my daughter good values. There is no other person that can be as inspiring as my mother.

Michelle is staying at HOME shelter, where she wrote this piece during a creative writing workshop run by volunteers

My Favorite Christmas

To celebrate this festive season, four HOME shelter residents share their favorite memories of Christmas. They are all members of HOME’s creative writing workshop.

Jessiebel Pinkihan

I love reminiscing back to a time 20 years ago, when I was just at my sweet 16. Every 16th of December, my friends and I would go caroling from one barangay (neighborhood) to another, and after that we attended the midnight mass in church. We would go back home carrying the gifts that people had given us for our caroling: ducks, chickens, cash, and even camote (sweet potato) and bibingka (rice cake). We would do this every night until the 24th of December. During daytime, when our classes were finished, my friends and I started decorating the church with Christmas lanterns and Christmas trees, and putting Santa’s picture on the main door. On December 25, we used everything we had collected during our caroling to buy food to be shared during our Christmas party. We also exchanged gifts and played games. It is so sweet remembering my childhood Christmas; sharing what you have is such a great feeling. As I grow older, I will keep on remembering these times, wishing I could bring them back.

Sandra Vergara

Christmas is coming. I remember when I was around 6 or 7 years old, I used to write to Santa to tell him what I wanted for Christmas. I would put this short list in a sock, and hang it on the door in the belief that Santa would see it. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. We used to go to church for Christmas Eve Mass – or Simbang Gabi as we say in Tagalog. My family and I made it a habit to go every year. As for our food, spaghetti was always present; my mother cooked it, and it was the best spaghetti ever. My sisters and I also played games during Christmas, and we stayed up until the next morning. I remember that one time, my sister and I were out caroling at a neighbor’s, and it was funny because a dog chased us back home, so we couldn’t get any coins! When I remember that Christmas it still makes me smile.

Roselyn de Guzman

I want to share the best Christmas I ever had. Usually I celebrate Christmas with my family, but my best Christmas was when my beautiful daughter was born. She was born in the month of October. She is the best Christmas gift I have ever received. Even though I wasn’t with my family, since they were in Manila, it was still the best Christmas because of my daughter. In the Philippines, Christmas is important because it is the day that Jesus Christ was born. We usually cook for Christmas Eve, and celebrate together with family and other relatives. During our Christmas party, we have a lot of food – fruit salad, spaghetti, ham, wine, beer, queso de bola (Edam cheese) – and we go to church at midnight. That’s how we celebrate our Christmas.

Rose Ann Somera

Christmas is about sharing and celebrating the birth of Jesus. The best Christmas I had was when all my relatives came to our home to celebrate with us. I have a lot of happy memories of that time: we exchanged gifts, did some Christmas caroling, and watched the fireworks. When we celebrated the New Year, all of my relatives also came to our house, and we had a lot of fun.


Friendship at HOME shelter

Coming to the Home shelter can be a relief. All of the residents have different reasons for staying, some have run away from abuse, others from long working hours and lack of rest and sleep. Staying at the shelter can give the residents opportunities to learn new skills, to join the variety of activities going on, and even to make friends. Here is what some of the women say about their experiences and new friends at the Home shelter:

“When I came here all the worries in my mind are suddenly gone, because I don’t have a family here, and the people of HOME represent that. Accepting me and being willing to help me without any doubt, fulfilling my needs to face the struggles that I have. Sharing our experiences with one another, making me aware of what has happened to us. Listening to each other to give a solution to our situation and giving us peace of mind. Fighting for our rights together with us, making us better persons.”

“I made a lot of friends at the shelter. The women are all so nice to me, they share their food and talk to me. When I told them about what happened to me, they all listened. Everybody gave me advice. I enjoy all the activities at the shelter, and am so happy to have found a home that can protect me all the time.”

“At first when I came to the shelter I felt lonely because I didn’t know anyone. But slowly I got to know the other women and I felt happier. I have friends from different countries now, Myanmar and the Philippines. We can talk and share our experiences, and they make me feel better. I have a very good friend here, she always makes me smile and laugh and sometimes I can forget my problems.”

“I am happy to stay at the Home shelter. I am thankful to the sponsors and all the volunteers who give me more knowledge about how to answer for a job interview, how to manage my situation, and cope with my lower emotions. I also learned lots about cooking and baking and even how to approach people in a cheerful and happy manner. I feel like a stronger person and I need to be brave to face all the trials in my life. Thanks to all the sisters who listens to me at the Home shelter.”


“I came to the shelter because I want to stay in Singapore to work. I have a family and a daughter and I need to support them. But my employer wanted to send me home, and didn’t give me a chance to find a new employer. When I came to the shelter, I felt safe. I made a lot of friends who told me to stay strong, and now I manage to think about my family that needs support from me. I already found a new employer, and I face a new life with them. I am thankful that Home helped me to stay in Singapore and gave me the chance to work again.”


The one who accepts you for

Who you really are

Making you smile in times of sadness

Being there when you feel alone

Always making you proud of your success

Giving you confidence when you are down

Loving you without a doubt.”



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