Tag Archives: education

Good things come to those who bake.

A super DW – By Juliet Ugay

advanced bakingWhile most Domestic Workers enjoy their Sundays off, Chef Janeth, or teacher Janeth as her students call her, is busy teaching baking to her fellow DW at HOME Academy.

janet with her advanced baking students

Janeth Abrias Bullecer, is 40 years old, and hails from Nueva Vizcaya in Northern Philippines. Janeth is one of the gems of HOME Academy. Her 23 years of working in Singapore gave her a lot of experience, and the courage to do something to help her fellow Domestic Workers. Her passion for baking landed her spot as one of the teachers of HOME Academy. Janeth started volunteering for HOME in 2012. She came to know about HOME when she read articles about the organization, its work and of course the founder, Bridget Tan. Bridget created a Facebook page called Gabriela, of which Janeth became a member. After Janeth met Bridget during a workshop, she started her journey with HOME.

At first, Janeth’s dream was to become a make up artist, so she took up Cosmetology classes at Bayanihan Center. When she started volunteering at the organization, she and her best friend Ningsih did fundraising by making cakes and cupcakes, which was what she enjoyed most. She fell in love with baking.

janet with her basic baking last batch

Janeth started basic baking classes with 14 students, then 30, to 40, and reached 50 plus on her 5th batch. She taught cake making, cake decorating, baking different types of bread, etc. She was overwhelmed by the student’s enthusiasm and that inspired her to improve her teaching. Her signature cheesecake was always a hit, and she baked for Bridget Tan and MP Halimah Yacob during an HOME event. Due to overwhelming response, she started an advanced baking class and has 10 enrolees so far. Two of her former students, Sarah and Rhoda are now teaching in HOME Academy 2 and 3.

janet with her basic baking class first batch

Janeth’s work for HOME made her well known for her creations, and due to the encouragement from HOME staff and friends, she was given an opportunity to study first module in baking under a scholarship program at the Baking Industry Training College (BITC). She is currently taking up the second module, which she is paying by herself and she is hoping to continue to gain a diploma. Her main inspirations are her family, especially her mother, who sacrificed a lot for her family. Janeth hopes to have her own bakery shop in the future.

janet with her employer and kids

At present, Janeth is taking care of two boys. She studies two nights weekly, teaches baking on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month and attends computer classes on the 1st and 3rd Sunday. It might be a tiring routine but she manages to pull it all off, thanks to her very supportive employer Ms Nadine Mains. Since Janeth started volunteering, she gained confidence and made lots of friends. She said that the best part of all is to be able to share her knowledge and skill. Seeing her students happy makes it all worth it. Indeed Janeth is one extraordinary Domestic Worker – a SUPER DW!

Check out the recipe for Janeth’s famous cheesecake here!

advance baking

Law and You: Legal education starts at HOME

 By Sneha Gupta

In 2014, I was part of a team of dedicated NUS Law students who worked closely with HOME to develop a series of workshops aimed at educating foreign domestic workers about their rights under Singapore law. Focusing particularly on employment and criminal law, the workshops sparked a dialogue between the NUS team and the workers about the difference between law on the books, and law in practice.

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The aim of the workshops was to empower foreign domestic workers by improving their understanding of the Singapore legal framework. We wanted to give workers a platform to discuss issues that they confront in their work and lives order to help the workers feel more confident about their position in Singapore. One of the big challenges for us was to explain the relevant law in a manner that was both simple and engaging and to take into account the divide that sometimes arises between law in theory and law in practice in Singapore.

Over four sessions, we talked with a group of around 20 domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia about employment issues like contracts, illegal deployment, salary deductions, rest days, safety issues, transfer and repatriation. We also discussed criminal law and procedure with the guidance of Josephus Tan, Associate Director at Fortis Law. What was especially noteworthy was the fact that the information flowed both ways— we learned a lot from the workers and were impressed by their creative ways of resolving the issues that had arisen for them.

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The NUS team felt gratified with the positive feedback after the sessions and an email from one participant thanking us for our passionate involvement. This project widened our perception of FDWs and their problems. It entailed a steep learning curve, as we were involved in all stages of preparation and presentation of the course. We came to appreciate the close relationship between law and society and how a little knowledge conveyed over a few sessions can go a long distance in making workers feel more secure in their workplaces.

Moving forward, we have realised that there is a need to reach out to foreign domestic workers who cannot take a day off to attend these sessions, as well as those who speak other languages. We plan to create an online portal to allow workers to access the answers to commonly asked questions about their rights and responsibilities living and working in Singapore.

To support HOME and NUS’s project to expand the reach of the Law & You course, please get in touch or make a donation here (www.sggives.org/home), specifying “Law & You” in the comment field.

HOME would like to thank NUS Law students Sneha, Jude, Daniel, Zhi Ying, Amelia, Sanjana and Yi Zhen and Professors Jaclyn and Sheila for their commitment and contribution to the project.

The power of education

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HOME could not do the work it does without a large number of volunteers, many of whom are migrant workers in Singapore themselves. Volunteer Cute, who was a teacher in the Philippines before starting work as a domestic worker in Singapore, spends much of her Sunday off helping and training migrant workers less fortunate than herself. We asked Cute to share her inspiring story.

Migration is not as easy as some people think. Being away from your home and your loved ones is hard, and not even money can cure the loneliness many migrants endure. Every migrant worker has a special story. This is mine.

In the Philippines my teacher salary was not enough for my family of eight siblings to survive, and life got even worse after my father got sick. Most of my siblings were still studying, so I decided to find work in Singapore.

Being a domestic worker is a really tough job, and during my first few years I had no day off. I had to pay eight months of salary to my recruitment agency, work 18 to 20 hours a day, and did not have adequate food. My faith in God as well as my determination to let my siblings finish their degrees made me strong, sacrificing even my own love life. My father always told us that the only wealth that he could give us was our education, and that no one could ever take that away from us. I took that lesson to heart.

It’s been 21 years since I left my beloved country, the Philippines, and the house I call home, where my siblings live and my father passed away. I miss him dearly. I did not get to see his face one final time, because my employer told me it would not give him his life back if I went home.

Having a day off is important for migrant workers. We can rest, unwind with friends, or learn new skills that help us prepare for our reintegration in our home countries. I believe my own involvement in HOME was the will of God. My feet brought me to the 6th floor of Lucky Plaza, where I met Sister Bridget, the founder of HOME. She welcomed me heartily, and told me about the mission of HOME. HOME gave me the opportunity to attend trainings, and teach seminars myself where I can share what I have learned. I had some great experiences though HOME. I even escorted Sister Bridget to Geneva, Switzerland, to witness the adoption of the International Labor Organisation’s Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers, an achievement that I’m very proud of.

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My contribution to HOME has the full support of my American employers. I have led the HOME ROSES group for 6 years. The HOME ROSES team is a group of domestic workers that assists HOME with migrant health issues, and gives training and workshops on HIV/ AIDS. I have also contributed to HOME’s newsletter ‘My voice’.

When Sister Bridget opened the HOME Academy, a Sunday school for migrant workers, I was keen to get involved. This year, I attended a special training given by the Philippine organization ATIKA, where I was trained to teach other migrants about financial planning. Attending this class will prepare them for a successful reintegration in their home country, so that they will live happily ever after.

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HOME gives a shelter, a hope and a home to unfortunate migrants, whether it is a woman or a man, regardless of their job, religion and nationality. I pray that HOME will exist forever, and can continue to help us.

GOD BLESS HOME and all the volunteers who devote their precious time, their talents & kindness.

WE LOVE YOU ALL

Sincerely

S.S. Rotelo (better know as Cute)