Category Archives: HOME shelter

SO IT’S YOU

By Fe Angela Callueng

SO IT’S YOU

Shattered as it was,

Broken a thousand times,

Dwelled in every path,

Pick yourself and smile.

 

Your love warms me,

Like a favorite morning tea,

Your eyes glitter every time you stare at me,

And I was stunned.

 

Every breath I take,

Enough for me to live a thousand years with you,

Whenever you touch me,

A million volts run through my veins.

 

From my eyes to my toes,

Your love means everything to me,

And I will never let you go,

And those memories of you,

Will always bring a smile to my lips.

 

Fe Angela is staying at HOME shelter, and this poem was written as part of a creative writing course taught on location by HOME volunteers

 

 

 

Desi’s dream

Siti3

Hi, my name is Desi. I am a domestic worker in Singapore. This is my story.

I come from a humble family in a remote area in West Java. I had never left my village until the day I came to Singapore. I don’t know what city life is like as my parents who worried about the bad influence of the city, forbade me from going too far away from the village.

But, I have dreams and aspirations. I dream about going to college and be able to help the school in my village which did not have enough students to begin with. My dream is to make my parents and my younger siblings happy. However I will never be able to see my dream come true with the small paycheck working in the village.

I started to dream about going to work overseas. I heard from people who have worked in Singapore that it is beautiful, non-discriminatory, safe even for foreigners living there.

Though clueless about Singapore when I arrived in 2014, I was filled with hope. But, only a few days into my work, my employer started to abuse me very badly. A friend helped me escaped after seeing the fear in my eyes and black and blue swelling on my face.

HOME took me into their shelter. I was traumatized, frightened and extremely sad. It was a good intention that brought me to work in Singapore and I cannot understand why I was treated so horribly. That was probably why so many people came to help me.

Meeting fellow Indonesians and other domestic workers from the Philippines, Myanmar and India brought some comfort and light into my life. They are great friends and a solace to know that I am not alone.

There are many activities at HOME to keep me busy. English, art & craft, cosmetology, aromatherapy and many more. All free for us to attend. Slowly, I began to overcome my shyness as I make new friends and learn new things.

I have stayed at HOME for a quite a long time now that I decided to learn to volunteer too.

I accompany other distressed domestic workers like myself to the police station, the airport, or MOM. It was not easy for me. I was nervous at first but I try to calm myself down by memorizing the routes I had to go.

Once, I even took a fellow Indonesian worker to her ex employer’s house to get her passport and her luggage. She was scared and unwilling to meet her ex employer. I tried to calm her down so she would not be too fearful and sad.

When we got to the employer’s house, she was so afraid I had to do it myself. To my surprise, her male employer was not upset at all. We even talked a little before he handed the luggage to me. But I was lucky because the female employer who was not home at the time was the one who had mistreated my friend.

I want to help people in distress because I have been in their shoes before. When I was down and in my worst condition, HOME came to my rescue. I call the staff Sisters and Brothers because they are like my family. She always gave me good advice and taught me the meaning of life. I was very shy and afraid like a wounded dog. I was afraid to go out alone and meet people especially my employer. I was traumatized and miserable from being away from my family, but I learned a lot from her. I started to be able to go out alone, even bringing people to places.

Even though my family is far away, I have many friends who are very supportive. I don’t have to be embarrassed about my mistreatment because I have done nothing wrong. Now I have found a new dream, a mission in life: helping others. But first, I have helped myself.

From someone who was shy, fearful and sad, I am now strong, brave and confident!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘I can’t breathe here’

I am from India, I am married and I have a 2 1/2-year old baby. In my family I have one elder brother and one younger sister, my mom and dad, and my husband. I’m not from a rich family, I’m from a poor family. My family told me not to go to Singapore, but I told them I need to make my future and my baby’s future. I am in Singapore to earn money for my baby for their good study and because I want to make their good future.

Last Wednesday, I went to my employer’s house. I stayed for five or six days. In the house was my boss, my boss’s wife, the wife’s mother, the wife’s uncle, and a 3-month old baby. When I came, I told my agent I cannot eat chicken. They told me not to worry, my employer told the agency that I would only look after a baby. Not anything else. When I came to their house, they totally changed. Every time they made me smell chicken and fish. I told them I don’t eat it because I’m vegetarian, but they threatened to send me to the agency and told me, “The agency will send you back to India and put you on the blacklist.” Because I don’t eat chicken or fish, they only gave me one piece of bread and crackers.

My employer was a very bad person. Every time they tortured me. Every time they told me their house has a ghost, they said, “We closed your room with the ghost and the ghost will kill you and bite you,” and they told me, “We blame you, you stole my gold and you will go to jail for 15 years,” and they never let me take rest. I think they talked to each other about taking my phone, so I kept my phone in my bra. In their house, I never took a shower or washed my clothes on my own wish, only on their wish. I wore one set of clothes for three days. The whole family played politics with me; I go to clean the washroom, they say the kitchen is dirty, go clean the kitchen. I clean the kitchen, they say the washroom is dirty, go clean. I cleaned the washroom, cleaned the kitchen three, four times.

They told me they will push me outside the window, and they said, “The police will not do anything because we know all the officers. You are fresher, our family has been in Singapore since my grandmother’s time. We can do anything to you, but you can’t do anything to us.” They said, “You are not special, you are only a maid.” They think that I’m less of a person, like I have a fever or cancer. Don’t sit, don’t touch, you are a maid. They told me, “If you don’t do this or that, we will put our hot cigarette on your arm.” Every day they abused me, they called me “bitch.” Every time my boss told me, “Go to hell. You bitch, go to hell.” Every time. That’s why I’m very scared and want to go back to India.

I want to find good people and a vegetarian Punjabi family, otherwise I will go home. Now I want to go back to my country, India. Now I am full of stress and I want to go see my family and my child. I miss my whole family very very much. I want to go back to India and hug my mother. I want to put my head on her shoulder. I don’t know when I will go back to my country. I can’t breathe here.

This piece was written last summer during a writing workshop at HOME shelter, by an author that prefers to remain anonymous. After this was written, she found a new job in Singapore, but was unlucky again. She now wishes to return to India permanently.

Cherry’s Fairy Tale

During a writing workshop at HOME shelter, one of our shelter residents Cherry (not her real name) wrote the fairy tale of her life. In the workshop the participants were encouraged to write their own happy ending. Cherry has now left HOME shelter, and we hope her happy end came true, and she and her family are living happily ever after.

Once upon a time two beautiful ladies and one handsome boy were born in the province of Iloilo, in the Philippines. Their mother’s name was Cherry and their father’s name was Wilbert.

One day at dinnertime Cherry and her husband talked about their financial problems. Cherry decided to work abroad again. At first Wilbert did not want Cherry to go, because of their three children. But even though Wilbert had work it wasn’t enough to support their family. Cherry chose to go to Singapore, and her husband supported her. The children cried, saying: “mama, we love you and will miss you every single day”. Cherry was strong walking into departure. Her husband told her “whatever happens, I support your decision because I know you do this for our family… I will take care of our children.” Cherry cried as she got on the airplane.

When Cherry started working in Singapore, the communications with her family were good, and she felt happy and not too tired. But after a couple of weeks she felt uncomfortable because of Grandpa, so she changed employers. Cherry found a new employer in two days, and they were also good and kind. But she was only working one month before they accused her of being a ‘thief’. The case of Cherry is not finished. She has chosen to stay in the shelter of HOME. She hopes that soon her case will be finished and she can continue to work here in Singapore for her children.

Cherry’s favourite happy ending: Cherry chose to work in Singapore to have a good life for her family. She worked so hard to earn money. Finally she finished her two year contract in Singapore and went home to her family. She was very excited and happy to go home. Cherry’s husband and family were waiting at the airport, happy to see her. Finally she left the airplane and walked into the lobby and when she saw her husband and children she ran and hugged them and kissed them… after two years they were back together again and happy to live united as a family.