An amazing gift

Jofel has been staying at HOME shelter for some time, where she has volunteered to help out as our shelter leader, and discovered several new passions. One of these passions is writing, and this story by her won her a special award in the writing competition HOME hosted together with the National Museum of Singapore. She has written more since, so watch this space for more stories written by this very inspiring writer.

fullsizeoutput_aa70

An amazing gift 

By Jofel Dosano Villaruel

When I was young in the Philippines I never experienced to play in a real playground. With my friends I used to play at the beach, especially when there was low tide. I loved to play baseball, Chinese Garter, luksong tinik or leapfrog jumping with my friends.

My first experience at a playground in Singapore was with my employer’s son, who is a 2-year-old boy. Unlike many parents here in Singapore, my employer let me and her son free to play and experience creative games. Whenever I told him: “We are going to the playground” he would immediately run to take his shoes. Just seeing him happy, made me happy too.

At the playground, he loved sliding and climbing, but his real passion was the swing. As soon as we reached the playground he would run quickly towards the swing area and as soon he was on the swing I couldn’t take him off again. He always asked me to push him to swing higher and I was always scared for him; I felt that it wasn’t safe. I would have felt more relaxed if every swing had a sort of safety belt to prevent them from falling down and getting hurt. But when he saw my worried expression, he knew that I cared about him and he always tried to reassure me: “Don’t worry, I will hold on tight.”

And that make me laugh, so much! I admired him, he was so young but at the same time brave and strong.

My very best memory at the playground was when he was able to climb the rock wall for the first time. I was so happy and proud of him! I knew that climbing was a great exercise to strengthen both his body and his spirit. Spending his free time in the playground has helped him to grow active, smarter, creative and independent. Every time he climbed the rock wall he was very excited and after reaching the top he would be so happy he clapped his hands.

Sometime we need to let kids choose what they want so they can explore new ways and express themselves. What I personally observed about Singapore is that people here can be overprotective of their kids. Some parents or grandparents never allow their kids to play at the playground, they are worried because playgrounds are dirty and might have a lot of bacteria.

They don’t realize that a playground is a good starting place for young kids to make new friends, to learn how to communicate with other kids, to learn how to give and take, how to share – and most of all to experience the beauty of being a kid, an amazing gift that we won’t enjoy anymore, later in our whole life!

IMG_9889

He Played my Heart

We are proud to announce the winner in the poetry category of the ‘The More we get Together’ writing competion: Rolinda Onates Espanola

Her beautiful poem ‘He played my heart stole the hearts of judges and audience alike!

Above you see Rolinda (left) with  runner up in the poetry competition Jean Raquel (right)

 

FB_IMG_1528457998310

He Played My Heart

 

At 5:30pm everyday we go there

With bags full of goodies and water

You on your scooter

Me, you always tell to walk faster!

 

Playing is fun, full of laughter

You play cops and robber

Hide and seek makes you feel better

Racing and Virus let you ask to stay but longer

 

Sometimes you get bruises

Sometimes you cry endless

Sometimes you’re disappointed

Sometimes you’re a stubborn head

 

I watched you grow in here

I watched how you behave to others

I watched how time moves us together

I watched how this place brings us closer

I watched how I love

The child that I can never have.

 

#rolinda77

 

 

The Playground

HOME MyVoice proudly presents, the winner of the ‘The More We Get Together’ writing contest in the prose category: Saturnina De Los Santos Rotelo (better known to friends as Cute)

When we hear the word playground, we always think they are for children only. If you look at them closely, you will see they are places with different structures, shapes and colours. A children’s world. But the playground is a joy for everyone, it’s a place to meet people from different walks of life. Employers meet employers, domestic workers meet their friends, make new friends, just as children play with their friends and make new friends too. It is a place where you can look inside the lives of children, where happiness does not need an explanation as it can be seen on their faces. But don’t forget they get hurt and cry there also. But they will learn from that. A playground is like real life.

As a child, I never knew what a playground was as it does not exist in my village. I played in our backyard, outside my house. For me and the children in my village everywhere was a playground. I liked to pretend I was a teacher, and my pretend students would write on banana tree leaves that looked like paper because they had lines on them. For a pencil they would use a small stick. They’d sit on a stone.

Singapore playgrounds are awesome! They have beautiful structures and designs. I like to go to the playground in West Coast Park. I meet my fellow domestic workers there; we bring food and play with our charges the whole day. There are high and long slides. We go up those slides together, we play hide and seek, and we climb in the spider web-like structure. I enjoy playgrounds as much as the kids do. Because when I was small I never played in a playground as beautiful as this.

The playground is my resting place too. I can sit down there and relax my mind and tired body. It is a place where I can talk to my friends about my workday, my life, and even my love life. I can laugh to my heart’s content. We share what food we have, eating together. We dance or exercise. One time, I even celebrated my birthday in the playground.

Unknown-20

You can find nice employers in the playground, who are happy to be friends with domestic workers, they talk and laugh with us, help us when needed and listen to our sentiments. Employers with good hearts, that might even recommended certain domestic workers to her friends to hire, as they like what they see as they play with the children there.

As a domestic worker I have played many roles in playgrounds. I was a children’s playmate, an adviser to fellow domestic workers, or even a second mother to a child I take care of. I have to make sure of their safety. I wipe their sweat when they are sweaty, make sure they drink their water and give them snacks when they are hungry. The happiness and the safety of my employer’s child is my number one priority at the playground.

Unknown-18

I have been to many playgrounds, in different places, each one of them has left memories – of every child that I took care of, and every friend that I made there. Visiting playgrounds in Singapore was a journey that will remain in my mind and in my heart forever. I will cherish those moments, especially the sweet innocent smiles of the children I took care of.

The PLAYGROUND is one of my favourite places.

HOME Indonesian Helpdesk

By Novia Arluma

A group of volunteers from Indonesia, better known as HOME KARTINI, have been active with HOME for a long time already. In August 2015 the HOME INDONESIAN HELPDESK was formed. Several domestic worker volunteers were prepared to be a front line of case worker volunteers to do outreach, and get closer with the community of Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore.

The volunteers were given a basic training and became involved in forum discussions and other workshops in order to support their duty as they prepared to assist their fellow domestic workers in trouble. Then, in December 2015 the new office for the Indonesian Helpdesk was opened at Grandlink Square.

From there our team officially started to run the Indonesian helpdesk. We meet every Sunday on our day off and we are dedicating our day off to run the HELPDESK. We started to spread our contact details via social media. We wanted everyone out there that needed help regarding working issues to know they could contact us. We give consultations and advice, solutions for their problems.

Our important mission is: To give simple sosialitation and to educate our fellow domestic workers to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS as domestic workers. And for that purpose, we are aware that, before we can give answers to any questions, we have to learn more. We have to gain more knowledge  about the rules & regulations for domestic workers in Singapore.

We have noticed that today, more domestic workers are aware about their rights. And they will contact us to tell about the working conditions in their employer’s house. If something is not right, they ask for advice on what to do before they take the next step.

I myself can receive three or four calls or messages every day. And that’s not including my team members! We have become aware that learning by doing is the best way to learn. We have to keep learning and be up-to-date with the regulations for domestic workers. And, as a specialised Indonesian team, we are not only focused on learning about Singapore law, we have to learn about Indonesian laws for migrant domestic workers as well. HOME gives us the freedom to explore our knowledge by joining discussions and become connected with Indonesian NGO’s around the country which are focused on migrant workers issues.

HOME is not only a HOME for migrant workers who needs help.
But ..
HOME is a place to grow our spirit ..
Spirit to learn ..
Spirit to help others ..
Spirit to fight for our rights ..
Spirit to treat everyone as our sisters & brothers ..
We are HOME
We are family …

The INDONESIAN HELPDESK team is a part off HOME KARTINI FAMILY, together with the HOME Academy 3, HOME KARTINI sport, and HOME KARTINI musical and dance. So, aside from our duties as the HOME helpdesk team, our team members also have to work together with HOME KARTINI FAMILY in some programs. And of course we work together with all HOME volunteer as we are HOME FAMILY!

The HOME Indonesian Helpdesk is open every Sunday from 10 to 6pm

It is located at :

Grandlink Square, 511 Guillemard Road #01-06, Singapore 399849

Domestic Worker hotline: +1800-797 7977 / +65 6341 5525

 

My first meals

My first meals

 

Javanese was my first language

Like a first breast milk, fed by mother 

Be my flesh and blood

Indonesian is my national language

School forced me to learn it well 

Then English?

It was horrible 

Because of work, I have to understand it well 

 

I squeeze my brain to remember them 

Javanese, Indonesian, English

Ora, tidak, no

Iyo, iya, yes

It surprised me as well 

When I’ve known, not only my languages around me 

 

As simple words

When I said “aku cinta padamu”

Philippines said “Mahal ko Mahal Kita “

Hindi said “Mee tumsai pyar karti hu”

Bangladesh said” Ami tomake bhalobasi”

Then Telugu slowly answered me ” ninuninu pramestunanu”

Chinese said “wo ai ni “

In my heart then I was mumbling “hallah wong arep muni aku tresno kuwe wae kok kangelan” 

The simple words I want to say

“My ice cream melted

While I was busy eating avocado”

Hi sweetheart

I love you

 

From all of those

I learnt something

Not only Javanese as my first meals

But I have to taste many meals

It makes me feel more amazing

To this beautiful Creator the difference

 

By Artika Honey 

image1

Forgive me, child

FORGIVE ME CHILD

(by: Jean Ragual)

 

The mother is the light of home

A mother, who has a big role in the family

A mother, who will do everything

As a mother I need to find a job

It is hard to me to leave you

But this is for you

 

My child forgive me, if I am far away from you

Forgive me, if I left you at your young age

Someday you will understand everything

Thank you for all your stories to make me happy

When I talk with you

You give me strength everyday

 

Forgive me, Child

If you wonder why

Our home is not already complete or

Why you never see your father already

 

You are my only strength, my inspiration to continue our dreams

You are my treasure that GOD gave to me

Not all I can give to you

But I do everything I can, to make you happy

My love for you is forever

 

And no one can replace in my heart

My child, you are my flesh and blood

You are the reason I am strong and brave

While I am far away from you

 

Forgive me, my child, I love you forever

 

FB_IMG_1461296859399-1

Sunday Beauty Queen

Sunday Beauty Queen

 

Heavy make up, curly hair

Red lips on my glossy face

Wearing silver high heels, matched with my long black gown

 

It’s Sunday in Singapore

Look at their faces,

Everyone is happy wearing their crown

They look so beautiful that everyone adores

 

I walk to the stage and take my first walk

All eyes are on me, staring and someone is amazed

 

I notice a lady at the corner of stage

She is eyeing me from head to toe

 

I pose, and smile

Cameras are flashing on my face

I feel like I’m celebrity in Hollywood

 

At centre of the stage it’s time to make a half-turn

My stage time is finished, my show is over

I know she saw me and I know I make her smile too

But I am unsure if this makes me happy or scares me off

 

The special lady follows me backstage

No words come out to mind or from my lips

What should I say

I greet her with a hello ma’am in a whispering sound

 

She smiles and a hug from her makes me comfortable

I know it’s my off-day and today is Sunday

 

She holds my hand and says

I’m so proud of you

You are my beautiful helper

I smile in return, I know in my heart I was the winner that day

to have a supportive employer like her

 

  By Rosita Madrid Sanchez

The Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) is an anti-human trafficking organisation advocating empowerment and justice for all migrant workers in Singapore