Tag Archives: domestic worker

MY VOICE

By: Myla

MY VOICE

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

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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.

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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

Dancing

  1. Mujiati
  2. Zarazarani
  3. Mariyati

Singing

  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.

ARE WE LOSING OUR DIGNITY?

 

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

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CRY OF THE HIDDEN

By: Bhing Navato

 

THIS IS FOR YOU, YOU SHOULD START TO LISTEN

NOT JUST TO MY WORDS BUT TO THE CRY OF THE HIDDEN.

TO REMIND YOU THAT WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS

FORBIDDEN OF OUR RIGHTS, TREATED LIKE WE ARE NOTHING.

 

I BELIEVE THAT WE ALL CAME HERE WITH ONE GOAL

TO PROVIDE FOR OUR FAMILIES, HELP THEM WHEN THEY CALL.

BUT HERE’S A STORY OF ONE MIGRANT HERE

WAITING TO BE HEARD, HER EYES ALWAYS IN TEARS.

 

I APPLIED FOR THE JOB, FULL OF HOPE AND CONFIDENCE

NEVER KNOWING THAT MY DECISION WOULD COST MY INDEPENDENCE

THEY HAVE A NICE HOUSE, AND NICE PEOPLE THAT I CAN SEE

BUT SOMETIMES, I KNOW SOMEBODY IS WATCHING ME.

WITH CAMERAS AROUND THE HOUSE, EVERY MOVE IS SEEN

EVEN IN MY ROOM; TO CHANGE CLOTHES, I’M NOT AT ALL KEEN.

 

MY REST DAY IS FORBIDDEN

WHEN I MAKE A MISTAKE, I AM NOT FORGIVEN.

SOMETIMES, A PUNCH IN MY BACK OR A SLAP ON MY FACE

WHEN I CRY, THEY WILL SHOUT AT ME SO LOUD, IT WILL BREAK THE VASE.

 

WHEN I’M SICK, THERE IS NO SICK LEAVE

NO MATTER HOW BAD I FEEL, THEY WON’T EVEN BELIEVE.

FOOD FOR ME IS LIMITED.

TALKING TO OTHERS IS PROHIBITED

A CELLPHONE IS NOT ALLOWED

WHEN I GET CAUGHT, THEY WILL SHAME ME TO THE CROWD.

 

BUT STILL, I WORK WITH DETERMINATION,

WITH MY FAMILY AS MY INSPIRATION.

I TRIED NOT TO COMPLAIN TO AVOID TERMINATION

BUT NO MATTER WHAT I DO, MY FATE IS STILL MY EMPLOYER’S DECISION.

 

I KNOW NOT EVERY DOMESTIC WORKER IS LIKE ME

SOME EMPLOYERS MIGHT BE AS GOOD AS CAN BE.

BUT I’M ONE OF THE HIDDEN THAT YOU CAN’T SEE OR HEAR

ALL I NEED IS YOUR HELP. PLEASE GET ME HERE.

 

 Bhing Navato is a domestic worker, who volunteers at HOME on her Sunday off, to assist other domestic workers at our Lucky Plaza Helpdesk

Christmas Carrot Cake

Christmas is the time for eating great food together with family and friend. Janeth, HOME Academy’s baking teachers, shares with us a recipe for a festive carrot cake that will impress all your loved ones.

CHRISTMAS CARROT CAKE A LA JANETH

Equipment-2 8’’ round or square aluminum cake tins

Baking time-30-35 minutes

Baking temp. -175-180 °

Makes about 2kg round or square cake

christmas cake

Ingredients;

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 ½ cups caster sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs-lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins-presoaked, about 5 minutes
  • ¾ cup desiccated coconut
  • ¾ cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 ½ cups grated or pureed carrots

For the frosting

  • 200 grams cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons butter (unsalted, softened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (preferably clear extract)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice –optional
  • 200-300 grams icing sugar, sift

 Note; double frosting recipe for extra decorating if like

 Direction

  1. Preheat oven, grease the baking tins and line them with baking paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon powder, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the walnuts, raisins, coconut, crushed pineapple and pureed or grated carrots.
  5. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, combine well after each addition, using wooden spoon.
  6. Divide equally into the prepared tins.
  7. Bake in the preheated ovens for about 30-35 minutes or till toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Leave in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning them into a wire rack to completely cool before frosting.
  9. Place 1 cake on a board, flat side up, spread some of the frosting then top with the other cake. Spread the rest of the frosting. Decorate

 

Direction for the frosting;

  1. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter till smooth and no lumps, add vanilla and lemon juice and beat at medium speed.
  2. Lower speed and add in icing sugar a little at a time.
  3. Beat until smooth and just combined. (May use wooden spoon to mix at this point)
  4. Over beating will cause the frosting to be runny.

During the rest of the year this cake is great too, some ideas for decoration are below:

cakecarrot

My Time

By: Jane Sucaldito Supapo

 

Early 2009 I left the Philippines

Because of dreams

Came to a foreign land, Singapore

To fulfil my plan to work and earn a living.

 

At first I couldn’t handle situations.

In my first and second employers’ homes I lacked food and rest.

I left them and found the third

They’re better and I am happily working.

 

I sacrificed and shed tears for my loved ones

It’s this love for them that I am here and holding

Determined I am to pursue my dreams

And fulfil the promise of a better future for them.

 

Being independent and a self disciplined individual

Wise and smart in a crucial world.

A breadwinner and a single mother to a girl

I learned to sacrifice my self-desires.

 

I thank God above all

For opportunities and chances

And facing forward to a better and brighter future

And one day will be proud of myself going back home where I truly belong.