Tag Archives: domestic worker

Who is She?

Who is She?


She is the first person to wake up in this house

She prepares your breakfast and packs foods for you to bring

She assist your kids to be ready for school

Who is she?

The maid you call her.


She tidies up your crumpled bed so you may rest your tired body

She cleans up your house so you may have a peaceful mind

She takes care of your kids while you are at work so you may not worry

Who is she?

The maid you call her.


She cooks food so you may have a sumptuous dinner as you always say

She feeds your kids so they may stay healthy

She secure doors and windows each night for your safety

Who is she?

The maid you call her.


Her worth is less than a thousand each month

Her freedom two days each month

Two days with curfew hours each month

She is the maid.

That is what she deserves.

Too much isn’t it?




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


Our Homes, Our Stories

We are excited to announce the making of a new HOME MyVoice publication! As we speak we are working hard writing, editing and designing the book, which HOME plans to publish and  launch in March 2018: Our Homes, Our Stories.

Domestic workers can be seen everywhere in Singapore’s streetscape, in our parks, our shopping centres, and most importantly, inside our houses. But who are they really? Although these women form an integral part of our society, their voices are not often heard in Singapore literature. This book is an anthology of non-fiction stories written by migrant domestic workers in Singapore, and gives them a voice and a face. The book aims to create awareness of the issues domestic workers face, both in Singapore and in their home countries.

The stories explore different facets of the theme ‘home.’ All writers are either part of HOME’s network of domestic worker volunteers, or residents of HOME shelter for run away domestic workers. They come from different backgrounds and countries, and cover a variety of subjects relating to the lives of migrant domestic workers; positive as well as negative experiences. Their stories are compelling, insightful, and at times horrifying. They are important and need to be read.

In order to get this book published and printed, we need funds, please donate to our campaign at http://www.giving.sg to support publication: https://www.giving.sg/humanitarian-organisation-for-migration-economics/our_homes_our_stories

You can choose to pre-order the book, buy a VIP package with access to the launch party, or of course simply donate as much as you like to support this amazing project. An ebook version will be published in March 2018 as well.

We will update you here on the MyVoice blog on the progress of the book, get you special behind the scenes reports, and interviews with the writers, so watch this space! To get regular updates on the book, please also ‘like’ our Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/ourhomesourstories

For more information about the book, please contact Karien at karien@home.org.sg


By: Myla


A place I can’t believe my humanity disowned

Fears and worries that I might one day break down.

People surround me; don’t know if they can be trusted

To whom can I run?


My strength is the root of my journey

From this place I called my second home.

But I don’t feel safe as cruel people live here

Am I protected from harm?


Wrong judgement of who I am

Discrimination because of where I came from

Dejection is what I feel now

Do you care or not?


Voice that has been unheard

Please lend me your ears.

I speak with a heart and God beside me

Hoping one day I will feel safe and you care about me.

No more worries from this place I called my second home




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.



By: Maria Allen Cellan

Singapore has laws to protect foreign workers, including the right to rest days or Sundays off. This is to ensure that foreign domestic workers get enough mental and physical rest. But the reality is that many domestic foreign workers don’t have regular rest days. The result of this is low socialization and low self-esteem. By depriving domestic workers of rest days, employers are taking away our right to rest and enjoy our lives once in a while. This is a deprivation that most domestic foreign workers have experienced – not to mention that many of us don’t have proper food, a proper bedroom or an hour of rest a day.

Each person should have a sense of their worth and value. But as foreign workers we tend to lose our dignity; we tend to accept that we should just do whatever our employers tell us to do even if it’s demoralizing or humiliating. In some cases, we lose ourselves, our value and our self-esteem, then we start asking questions about who we are: Are we still worthy of respect? What is our true value in this world? We must realize that dignity is essential for any relationship, especially when it comes to an employer-employee relationship.

The fact is that how we are treated affects how we feel about ourselves. Some employers treat us with the dignity and respect that we deserve, but others do not. The stigma attached to foreign workers is getting worst these days. But we shouldn’t forget that we still have power and we can control how people make us feel about our dignity. We should set our own limits on what is acceptable to us and what is not. We must learn how to stand our ground when circumstances are not tolerable any longer.

We don’t even realize the real reason why we are dressing up on our Sundays off. It’s because we are in need of respect. We sometimes feel humiliated the whole week; well, at least once a week we can be ourselves and not slaves. It seems as though we are in a market place. We buy expensive clothes, shoes and bags just to add value in our lives. But how does it add to our human value?

We let other people appraise us and tell us what are we worthy of. We sometimes think that wearing all those branded expensive things will elevate our worth. But the truth is that dignity comes from ourselves. We should learn how to love and respect ourselves. We should know that we as human beings are equal. We shouldn’t let our job define us or let people mistreat us because we are just foreign workers. Standing our ground when circumstances are not acceptable elevates our dignity.

We as foreign workers must learn the truth about ourselves. The truth is that each of us has the highest value. All of us are striving to prove it in our actions and struggles. We must have freedom from the fear of being judged and we must have the right to stand up for our dignity. As the saying goes: “Society knows freedom when its people knows dignity”.


Image courtesy of TWC2

Desi’s dream


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!