“Learning is a treasure that will follow you everywhere.”

Today meet our Diamond Team Leader, Graceih Graziah. Graceih is from Iloilo City in the Philippines. She started working in Singapore 10 years ago.

“I found about Uplifters’s online course on money management and personal growth through a Facebook group. I got curious about it since it’s free and flexible and I am always keen to learn something new, I enrolled immediately. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It had a great impact on me emotionally, mentally and financially.

Through Uplifters I gained more knowledge on how to visualize, plan and take action to make my dream happen according to a specific timeline. Uplifters taught me how to slow down and be appreciative and grateful for every blessing I have. I learned to be more confident in communicating with others. I am happy that I get to share what I learn to my siblings as well. Now I have a clear vision of what I need to do so that I can achieve my goals quicker. I am saving for my emergency fund and investing too. I look forward to saving enough money to put up a business which I plan to do when I retire. I am researching possible business prospects and using the knowledge I gained to make it happen.

I love being a team leader because it gives me the privilege to meet more migrant domestic workers and expand my horizons of learning. I am happy to see they are interested in changing their own perception about the importance of saving. Seeing them having their own certificate and applying what they learned from Uplifters on their daily lives are both rewarding. It gives me and my student a sense of accomplishment because we are both changing for the better. I love meeting them personally, sharing great tips and joining workshops together.

My advice to my fellow migrant domestic workers is to continue to educate themselves in financial literacy. Remember it’s not how much money you earn each month but how much you save. Share your goals with your family so you can work together. Discipline is the key to make it happen. With teamwork it is much easier to achieve your goals. I would like to share this with them, “Learning is a treasure that will follow you everywhere.” 💛

“Continue to find ways to uplift your life.”

Meet Lizz Natividad, Uplifters’ Diamond Team Leader. Our Diamond Team Leaders have facilitated ten sessions of our three-week online course called Dare to Dream on money management and personal growth. In total they have already empowered more than 100 students each!

“I am from Quezon Province in the Philippines. I became orphaned when I was fifteen years old. I do not have any memory about my mother because she passed away when I was three. My father passed away twelve years after. I’m the youngest among ten siblings. I have six older sisters and three older brothers. When my third sister got married and moved to Tarlac City, I moved with her to study in high school. It was difficult for me to lose my parents at an early age. Being the youngest, I was very close to my father. Among his children, I am the only child who was outspoken and opinionated. My father had a huge influence on me. He taught me to believe in myself, be self-reliant, and to be fair and never look down on other people. He taught me to always think about my future and be responsible for myself. One of my fondest memories is when I was six years old was when I was run over by a toy car driven by a boy who lives in my neighbourhood. My father, who was standing on the terrace of our house witnessed everything. Seeing my father giving me that look that told me to fight back made me feel brave. I stood up for myself against the bully and I won. Through that experience, my father taught me to be strong and fend for myself. I was in shock and denial when he passed away but his lessons never left me and they have helped me through adulthood. Through him, I learned to be independent and strong. I always consider what he would think whenever I make decisions, especially when I was younger.

My first work experience abroad was in Singapore. I stayed there for one contract and applied to Hong Kong before my contract was due to expire. I came to Hong Kong in 1996 and worked for my employer for twenty years. I remember during my interview, my boss asked me if I knew how to cook and I said no because I only looked after a baby boy in my job in Singapore. Then they asked me if I know how to boil water and an egg and I said yes. When they asked me what kind of work I did not like, I said I don’t like cleaning shoes and washing cars and windows. They smiled at me and told me I was hired. During my time with them, they always encouraged me to save money and continue improving. They told me how amazed they were because I successfully learned how to cook and bake. They told me that their son, my Alaga, grew up to be responsible through my help. (‘Alaga’ is the term Filipina nannies use for the child they are taking care of.) I am still very close to him. I am proud of myself for taking such good care of my ‘Alaga’ and appreciate his love for me.

Whenever I feel homesick, my coping strategy is to visit different places in Hong Kong. I go hiking, attend church, and join various self-development classes. My favourite hiking trail in Hong Kong is Jacob’s Ladder in Quarry Bay. My mindset is to always look for something that I can learn from and will help me to improve. My dream is to be able to retire without worrying about money and enjoy my garden and travel once in a while.

My job as a domestic worker does not only provide a salary for me to buy things but it has also given me the ability to help my siblings when they need help. Uplifters gave me the push to be mindful of my time and priorities, keep track of it and use it wisely to my advantage. I’m a saver already but I did not have a plan about how much I want to save and what I am saving for. I only saved money for the sake of having savings. I found it difficult to say no whenever my family or my friends asked for monetary help. But when I joined Uplifters, I learned how to value and save money with a clear vision and purpose in mind. I am happy that I was able to buy a few properties through my savings.

The courses of Uplifters really work in my life. It motivated me to become a team leader because I wanted to help my fellow domestic workers. Sometimes they just want to talk to somebody they can relate to and who cares for them. I feel motivated whenever my students receive their certificates. I am not just their team leader, I am also their friend they can talk to about their hardships. I offer them advice and share with them the lessons I learned. They are my inspiration. Knowing how they sacrifice to provide for their family and their capacity to love so much, to the point of forgetting themselves so that their family will have a better future motivates me to keep doing my part to help them.

My advice to my fellow Uplifters sisters is to continue to find ways to uplift your life, plan well and know your priorities in life. There are a lot of different classes for self-improvement and financial literacy. Work hard and work smart. Always be a loving person.”

“Through Uplifters, I was able to put my learnings into action.”

Meet Catherine Alimagno. She is from the Philippines and is currently working in Hong Kong.

“I started working abroad in 2008 in Lebanon until 2012. I applied for work in Hong Kong in 2014 but after 2 months I had to go back to the Philippines. I applied again in September 2014 and I was lucky enough to find a kind employer.

I have two handsome sons; ages 21 and 15. Both of them are studying in University.

I joined Uplifters out of curiosity but it changed me in many positive ways. I was struggling to save money before and I didn’t know how to manage my money. Before Uplifters, I wasn’t able to accomplish any of my financial goals. But after joining Uplifters and enrolling in the Dare To Dream course, I learned how to save, when to save and how to manage my salary.

I received my Dare to Dream certificate on May 2019 and finished Make It Happen in October the same year. I am sure that if I didn’t join Uplifters, I still won’t be able to save and I ‘d never achieve my personal goals. My dream is to save for my retirement and I’ve already started saving for it. I’ve joined other classes before and they’re almost the same but Uplifters has had the most positive impact on me as I was able to put my learnings into action.

I am so thankful for Uplifters as they educate us, especially regarding financial education. It’s really a huge help for all of us. Please continue doing so because there are still a lot of women who want to learn. Thank you so much. “🙇

“Dream more, learn more and become more.”

Meet our diamond team leader Syarifitriyah Rahmani or Syafira.

She is turning 32 years old this month. She is from Indonesia and has two siblings.

“When I came to Singapore to work five years ago, I faced serious homesickness. I would often cry and missed my parents and my family because I had never been away from them. My mom said “if you want reach your goals, wherever you are, adapt and change and you will grow”. I’m very close to my mom. My mother unfortunately passed away last month and I am still healing from the pain of losing her.

I have been working in Singapore for five years now and I look after an elderly woman named Ahma who is 88 years old. I enjoy working for her because she is kind to me and is so cooperative and very simple.

Our founder Marie really inspires me. She has good vision and mission for migrant workers, specially foreign domestic workers. I appreciate how Marie (and Uplifters) facilitates a free online course on money management and personal development. I asked myself why don’t I take this opportunity, it is free. So I took the course and discovered that what Marie and Uplifters offered me as a domestic workers is really helpful and made a big impact on me. I can see very clearly what I want for my future, especially how to manage my money and reach my goals. Because of Uplifters I can reach my goals faster, I can also share my experience of how Uplifters works in my life.

My dream is to earn money to make my dream come true. My dream is simple, I want to be a good wife and a good mother. I want to dedicate my whole life for my family but before that I would like to make sure I am financially stable. I want to open a clothes shop and after five or six months, I will train my sister so she can help me handle the business and I can go abroad again.

My advice to migrant workers is to know your rights and stand up for it. Dream more, learn more, do more and become more. The word “Helper” is just a name. Appreciate yourself, love yourself and respect yourself. Never stop dreaming.”

“I want to keep going out on my day off” – 4 practical tips to handle this real case scenario

As a result of the pandemic, some employers of Migrant Domestic Workers in Hong Kong are asking them not to go out and meet friends on their day off, as long as the risk of infection is present. 

This fear of infection is legitimate, but the willingness and need for domestic workers to go out on their day off are also legitimate needs and within their basic rights. 

In any work relationship, tricky scenarios may appear but how can we resolve them? The key is in how we best handle and respond to any situation so we have  the best outcome for everyone.

Below are 4 Simple Tips on how to handle common “tricky” scenarios that I hope can help you.

  1. Know yourself and manage your own emotions first

It is frustrating not to have this basic freedom of using your day off as you wish. I hear you and I truly empathise with your frustration. Regardless of how your employer responds, however, the only thing you can control is your own emotion and reaction to a situation. To begin, self awareness and self regulation are the key elements. This can be achieved through various techniques, from taking  deep breaths, mindfulness, spiritual or religious practices to stay present and in the moment; slowing down your decision making process for a more measured and productive action.

Any change starts first with each of us

There are many great useful resources online, and Uplifters offer a free online course on money management and personal development where you can find more tips, know yourself better and develop, have a supportive community to grow and learn together.

  1. Use AIMB as a communication technique 

What is AIMB?  It is a useful tool for ANY communication:

  • Who is my Audience?
  • What is my Intention? 
  • What is the key Message? 
  • And the Benefit for the audience?

I know it may be counter-intuitive to think of benefits for the audience (your employer) but this is a framework that is already proven successful with many different audiences and circumstances. Give it a try!

Audience: What is your employer like and how does she/he respond? It is best to choose the right moment to talk with your employer.  Let’s say he/she is busy and tends to be more relaxed earlier in the morning, or in the evening. It is important to know more about your employer, how and when they  may be more open to communicate and to listen to you. Know your audience as much as you can and choose your time carefully — a time that suits them.

Intention: Your intention here is primarily that your employer truly listens to you and your needs. Intentions may vary, but for now let’s stick with the intention of truly informing and making yourself heard. 

Message: What is your key message and how do we define it? Message is defined as the one key thing you would like your employer  to do or remember after the communication. Try not to launch into several elements you would like to talk about at the same time. Instead, choose one key message. In the scenario above you would like to ask your employer to give you some time off as you are entitled in your contract. It is also something you need for your well-being and to stay healthy for the job. Here are some examples on how you may communicate depending on the employer, your intention and the environment: “Do you have a few minutes as I would just like to share something with you. I feel it is stressful for all of us with the virus. I understand you are concerned about me getting infected and the impact on your family. I would really appreciate going out for a few hours on my day off to run some errands, get fresh air and recharge. I will be very careful wearing a mask, maintaining distance from others and washing my hands. I really need this time for my well-being so I can come back recharged to work, to take care of the house, the kids and continue to do my work well. I want to make sure I am physically and mentally healthy for my work.

Benefit: Where do we see the benefits for your audience in the sentence above? Here it is: I want to make sure I am physically and mentally healthy for my work, to perform well. I want to make sure I can do my job well and if I can take a break I know I will do it better. When the audience sees the benefits to them, they are more likely to say yes to your requests and be influenced in a positive way.

Remember AIMB in any communication!

3) Be mindful of your facial expressions and gestures

Be aware, be open, smile, take a few deep breaths. Sometimes we hold so much tension in our face and body that our message loses its power to influence. Smile, make eye contact, be aware of your voice and tone (not so loud but not so soft either) and use gestures that show that you are truly open, physically and emotionally, to the communication.

4) Stay present and positive

Many times in any communication we do not get what we want, but we have to try, to dare to dream, to do our best to communicate clearly and with empathy. Speak up, kindly and skilfully. 

There is a lot more we could talk about, discuss and practice in terms of how to best communicate not only in the domestic work environment but in any job. You can read my previous article on how to improve your communication with your employer using the DESC step by step communication technique Communicate well with your employer during Covid-19

Mainly I hope you got some new useful and practical tips here!

Please stay well, healthy and positive! I hope to see you all soon on a short video, on Facebook or in person. Stay in touch and please connect on Facebook, following the FELIZ Consulting page on Facebook & Linkedin, or drop me a line.

Keep a Happy Mind!

Warmest wishes, Mônicawww.felizconsulting.com

“If you have the courage to start, you have the courage to succeed.”

Meet Anne Marie, Uplifters alumni and diamond team leader from Santiago, Isabela in the Philippines. She has been working in Hong Kong since 2013 and is a single mom to two lovely children. She left her home country to send her children to school so they can have a better future. Those who know Anne Marie or Mariah as she’s fondly called love her infectious laugh and energy. Her outlook in life is truly admirable. 💛

In her spare time, Mariah likes to explore the hiking trails of Hong Kong as she is amazed by the beautiful natural sceneries of the city. She loves reading personal development books and watching inspirational movies.

She joined Uplifters through her friend Lizz, also an Uplifters alumni and team leader.

“When Lizz told me about Uplifters, I immediately joined because I am a big believer in personal development and have always pursued learning. I believe one must be open to learning. You cannot say that you already know everything you need to learn. My advice is to be open minded and leave everything you think you know behind so that you have an empty space to experience new things.”

“Uplifters has motivated me and empowered me to track my budget and write it down. Before, I would just send money back home and not monitor where it is spent. Through Uplifters, I have helped and influenced my mother to track expenses as well. I am happy to say that she is my partner in budgeting. I have shared what I learned from Uplifters with my family. Uplifters taught me to have a better communication with my family. I learned to listen first before reacting and it helped me to have a better relationship with them.”

Mariah has facilitated more than ten sessions of Dare to Dream, the Uplifters’ 3-week signature online course on money management and personal growth. She is very passionate about helping our students. Being a migrant worker makes her more sensitive to their experiences and their sacrifices working abroad.

What Mariah loves most about being a team leader is whenever they tell me “Thank you for your time and for sharing your knowledge”, “I am now more open to my family”, and “You are an inspiration.” It makes me happy to be an inspiration to them. It’s not always easy but helping is now a part of my life and the desire to help them has been deeply rooted in me because I know how hard it is work abroad. I also feel empowered when I help them. I learned how to communicate and adapt to different types of people. I am really happy that I have this opportunity to contribute to the community. I feel grateful and privileged to help and build them up. I would say that being a team leader is like my muscle as it fuels me to become more energized in helping my students.”

She clearly has a gift for teaching. She worked in Dubai as a teacher’s assistant for six years where she was awarded as one of the school’s best employees of the year. She was the first Filipina to be given that award. One of her best memories as a teacher’s assistant is hearing her students call her Miss Mary and her travel incentive to Europe.

“My dream is to own a preschool. I love children and I want to help mold them to be good individuals. I would like to use my leadership training and my experience to accomplish this. My children are my partners in life. I believe that when you share your dreams with them, you will be held accountable. I share with them not just my dreams but also my knowledge as well so I can guide them and help them. My youngest son dreams of becoming a fashion designer while my eldest is taking up Financial Analysis in college. We often say that we are a dream team. My children are my inspiration.”

“My advice to fellow domestic workers is to hold your ground and believe you can do it. Take action on what you say you want to achieve. Move forward and reap what you sow. Write down your goals and plans, prioritize and know yourself. Know what you want to get in life because you will not accomplish anything if you don’t know what you want. Take action. My favorite quote is “If you have the courage to start, you have the courage to succeed.”

How to adapt changes Covid-19 brings into your life

The whole world as we know is facing something unprecedented, something that none of us, our friends and colleagues, our employees and employers, and even our governments have faced. 

In these times, we sometimes need to be flexible and adopt solutions that we did not think of before, that are new to all of us. This requires a high sense of adaptation. The good news is that, being a migrant domestic worker, you might already master the art of adaptation. You live and work in a foreign country, you listen and speak a foreign language, you often face heavy workload with limited time off and you learn how to best meet unfamiliar employers’ expectations. That’s A LOT to adapt to but YOU also have a lot of STRENGTHS that you have exercised and solidified over the years!

Credit: Marine Pitto

And now, the pandemic shakes it all up again. 

Let’s see how good communication can help adapt even more. 

The need for compromises and healthy boundaries 

One element will always matter: the feeling, for both parties, that their ideas were heard  even if  they may not be 100% satisfied with the final solution. Sometimes it’s hard to find solutions that are fully fair to all parties, all the more if you live at your employer’s house and that your livelihood depends on them. It is most likely that the compromise falls on you in the end. But positive communication and healthy boundaries can help relieve a bit the weight of these compromises. 

Working and living in your employer’s home means changes for both the employers and you. Without any specific rules around this new situation, we need to consider the main impacts and then reflect on how a win-win solution can be found.

Both you and your employers may be stressed, which makes it hard to express your needs. Let’s then focus on strategies that help you express your needs in a constructive manner without feeling scared or being on the defensive. 

The pandemic creates a double responsibility

As much as the employer wants to protect their home and family from infection, you also have a responsibility to ensure that you do not create a situation of risk for yourself and for them. As a result, some employers are asking their domestic workers not to go out and meet friends on their day off  as long as the risk of infection is present. 

While still allowed by the government, employers may be worried that gathering  in groups leads to infection? Is it fair? Yes it is.

You still want to be entitled to the right to rest and your autonomy on your day off? Is it fair? Yes absolutely.

Staying home on your day off can be fine for a number of domestic workers  but for some, it might give rise to different situations. Here is some advice about what you could do or say to your employer in these situations. 

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

SITUATION ONE: You are asked to stay home on your day-off but you’d prefer  going out as usual. 

Speak to your employer and help them see things from your perspective. If you feel comfortable enough, consider the below example of sayings.

Use empathy.

  • I understand you are concerned about my contacts outside the home
  • Even if I don’t meet friends, I feel the need to go out, walk my own stress away.
  • Having friends is important to me to feel good and healthy. I can speak with people I like while keeping social distance. 
  • I take my health and the health of the family I work for to heart 

SITUATION TWO: You are being asked to work on your day off. You are okay with that but your employer did not mention extra payment. 

Use empathy again.

  • I understand the situation requires extra work and I am eager to help.
  • I need to be paid for this extra work, especially at a time where I have the responsibility to help my own family to deal with the pandemic.
  • I feel worried for my family back home who does not have a reliable medical system; I would be happy to be able to further help my family be better prepared and safer.

As long as you feel comfortable sharing, you can give your employer more information about your concerns for your family so they better understand your situation.

Note that in Singapore employers are allowed to pay domestic workers to work on their day off while it is not allowed in Hong Kong. In all cases, in real life mutual agreement is key. 

SITUATION THREE: You are being asked to work on your day off. Yet, you’d prefer to rest on that day.

In Hong Kong, the law provides 24 hours of uninterrupted rest and this holds true until the law changes, however, living in somebody’s house also demands that you preserve the relationship 

  • I feel the need for rest and relaxation in order to stay healthy and strong. 
  • I feel extra stress because of the pandemic and I’d be very grateful if I could rest on my day off
  • Feeling rested will help me do a good job, taking care of the house and looking after the family. 
Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

Extra tips to make the most out of these conversations:

  • Have these conversations with your employer when you feel both you and them are calm and have the time to listen to each other. If needed, ask your employer to carve some time for you to discuss something important
  • If you feel stress, write some points on a piece of paper so that under stress you still remember to voice out points important to you.
  • Use empathy again and again. Walk into your employers’ shoes and make them walk into yours
  • As much as possible, preserve the relationships which will in the end preserve your job. This crisis too shall pass. 

Wishing you all the best courageous ladies! Remember how important your job is to you, your family and your employer. Your work protects the health of your employer’s family during this pandemic. Be proud of that. 

This is not an easy thing to remain optimistic and happy in these difficult times. But maybe there is some meaning to be found in them. This constant adaptation might be another chance to grow your resilience even more. 

Learn more about how to adapt to the changes brought in by the pandemic:

— 

This article was written by Lola Chetti (MA- Consulting, LLB(Hons), PCC-ICF ), who is a Change Consultant and Executive Coach working in Hong Kong. She truly believes that an investment in people development and empowerment in all spheres of society will make a better world for all of us ; and is passionate about supporting women/children education and empowerment 

Antivirus #4

Here is the transcript of our Facebook Live on Thursday 16th April to help our community of migrant domestic workers go through COVID-19 challenges.


Hi everyone, I am Jenely, Uplifters Community Building Officer. I am with Marie, Uplifters Founder and CEO.

Uplifters is a non profit organization dedicated to empowering underprivileged communities with online education and peer support. We offer a free online money management course for domestic workers. You just need to click “ Send Message” on our Facebook page to enroll. https://www.facebook.com/uplifters.community/. This is the fourth episode of our Antivirus series and we are very happy to be here with you tonight.

These are challenging times for all of us, especially for our community. Our objective with this Antivirus Video Live is to reply to your questions if we can or collect them and consult with professionals afterwards so we can answer them later. We also want to just be there together, provide comfort to each other in these difficult situations, we will go through it together. Uplifters is first and foremost a community and we will go through these difficult times with you.

Today we are going to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on your relationship with your employers and how to manage your feelings.

We are happy to have Marites Palma as our guest tonight. She is an Uplifters’ alumni and Uplifters team leader. Team leaders are Uplifters alumni volunteering their time to support new students throughout their studies. Marites has lived in Hong Kong for the past decade as a domestic worker. She is a writer and a founder of the Social Justice for Migrant Workers facebook page. It is a platform for domestic workers who seek social rights, justice and opportunities to help each member while working abroad. Marites was also awarded by the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office for her positive impact on the Hong Kong’s migrant domestic worker community. She is an alumni of the Resolve foundation and a passionate advocate for migrant workers’ rights and gender-based violence.


Hi Marites, welcome to our live broadcast. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. Your thoughts and your guidance is important to us.


Are there any changes in the relationships of domestic workers with their employers? What are the effects of these changes to their working relationships?


Marites: There are changes in the relationships of domestic workers with their employers. It is either positive or negative. There are employers that have been really kind and other employers who have been difficult to work with throughout this pandemic.


You mentioned employers becoming good. Do you have examples in mind?


Marites: Yes, they know how to tackle the situation and they help you cope. They help you to do something at home and they do not just rely on you.Some employers do not even give a mask or hand sanitisers or enough food and rest. How can they be healthy to fight Covid if they are sick? Some employers do not allow their domestic workers to go outside, even if they want to buy food or send money back home.


What is your advice to domestic workers who are facing such situation?


Marites: Many domestic workers are negatively affected. However for me, acceptance of the situation with deep understanding is the key on how to settle these feelings. I can give five tips to stay positive in negative situations. First we need to shift our mindset because negative situations contain a learning experience. Number two is get support so you won’t have to deal with a negative situation alone. You can share with your loved ones or to your friends. Number three is to focus on what you can control and let go of what you cannot control. Number four is to practice self-compassion. Number five is to remember that this situation will pass.


Since the outbreak started, many domestic workers have been sad that they are not allowed to take a day off, even though their employers are free to go out whenever they want. What would you advise domestic workers?

Marites: Many domestic workers are not allowed to take their day off. My advice is to talk to your employers nicely. We need to accept their opinion about the situation but remind them of our rights as domestic workers. Remind them that we are also human beings and we need to rest just like them. We need to rest in order for us to be happy because if we are not happy we cannot serve their family well. We need to be physically and emotionally rested.

What we’ve heard a lot since Covid-19 started is that people in general found out that they all have a very different definition of what common sense is. It can frustrating because not everyone thinks the same way.


Marites: Everybody wants to be safe. Employers tend to emphasize that they need to wear mask and bring hand sanitizer wherever they go and to always wash their hands to be safe.

We have been hearing that some domestic workers complain that their employers are not taking enough precautions, have you heard this as well?

Marites: Yes, some employers don’t let domestic workers go outside but the employers invite other people to come to their house. It’s unfair, right? They won’t let you go but to the market. In the market there are a lot of people and you don’t know where they come from and it’s really a difficult situation. Some domestic workers are happy staying home as they have TV and internet. However for those who are not happy, they preferred to go home and terminate their contract.


It’s not only the stress of not being able to go out but it’s also the stress of having a different routine. Employers stay home to work and you have to take care of the children for the entire day because they don’t go to school anymore. Just to change your habits is difficult. What is your advice for that?


Marites: Communication is the key to better understand each other. Good communication is essential in building a positive workplace. We need to show gratitude and appreciation for their care towards us and maintain their level of expectation from us. Honesty is also needed. If we are telling the truth then our employer will always trust us.

For example, I’ve heard that one of our members is feeling so stressed because she can’t do her work as well as before. She said that she used to tidy up the house but now she has to take care of all the children and she have to cook for everybody. It’s just very stressful for her because she doesn’t like it when the house is messy. She was keeping all of this bottled up inside herself and it putting a lot of stress in her shoulders as she would not dare tell her employer that maybe she needs to change her routine.


Marites: Everything changes and we need to accept it. The situation changed because of Covid-19. The situation at home also changed. We just need to understand why we are doing these things and the reason our employers are making the decisions that they make. They are also stressed. We need to open our hearts to them so they can understand what they can do for us. Try to have open communication with them.

We admire your advocacy and your passion for social justice. Why is this important to you? How can each of us help and contribute to social justice?


Marites: Social justice is very important to me because it is for the welfare of everyone in our community. It leads to satisfaction and pleasure of life, as well as respect to leaders. It is important that people who are treated unjustly that they will rise to seek social justice. Amid the uncertainty and chaos around the globe, it takes courage for us to stand up for what we think is right. Gandhi reminded us in words and in action that you must be the change you wish to see in the world. Now is the time to stand united and practice social justice for a better community for all.


How can we contribute to social justice?

Marites: First by spreading empowering information. Listen more. Be courteous and be open to hearing what others think and feel. Have a volunteering spirit, sparing some time to help others in need. Having a volunteering spirit is food for the soul. Support each other so we can inspire others to speak up and ask for help to organizations and individuals they are entrusting to us for help.

Why Zoom may not be the best choice for your workshop and alternatives to try.

Recently I’ve been approached by different organisations wondering how to transition their face-to-face programs to online courses and workshops in the face of COVID-19. 

Here is a 5-step method that I’ve found useful to design impactful online courses. This method is especially helpful if you are targeting underprivileged communities and people who may not have very good internet access.

I’ve started my career as the director of an online education centre in France. Our 10,000+ students were preparing for national exams to become hairdressers or estheticians. My biggest pride was that we managed to improve the graduation ratio by implementing new e-learning tools and increasing the support they were receiving.

 I like to say that if you can learn how to cut hair online, you can basically learn anything.

Two years ago, I founded Uplifters which is a non-profit organisation empowering underprivileged communities with online education and peer support. We offer a free three-week money management and personal growth online course to migrant domestic workers in Asia. Our challenge is to make online education truly accessible to women who own only a simple smartphone, have no WiFi, little digital literacy (no email address) and very limited time off. We started with twenty students a month in the first session and we are now enrolling more than 200 per month. 

 Here is what I’ve learnt along the way. 

  First, figure out how your audience accesses the Internet and their digital literacy. 

  • How is their Internet connection quality? 
  • What is the device they use? Mobile, tablet, laptop?
  • Do they have storage on their devices?
  • How flexible are their schedules? 
  • How long can they spend online in a quiet space without being interrupted?
  • Do they have and use email addresses; alternatively social media platforms? 
  • Do they know how to download apps? Do they have enough storage for them on their phones?

(Just take a quick poll to make informed decisions) 

 2. Accordingly select the different tools you can use, taking into account bandwidth and schedule flexibility. 

 Make sure the tools you offer are:

  1. Accessible to your audience (for example: videos require a good internet connection). 
  2. Flexible enough to meet their needs (three-hour online meetings on Zoom are not for everyone). More information on low-bandwidth verses high bandwidth tools are in this article.

 A special note on tools accessible through emails only. We tend to assume most people know how to use emails and access their mailbox easily however this is NOT the case. 

 3. Now, take the time to think about the best way to best deliver your knowledge depending on which tools are adapted to your audience.

Once you know what kind of tools you can use, think about how you will use them. 

It is well known that lecture style classes are not the best way to teach, even in real life. So imagine when someone is not even having the pressure of being looked at in a classroom.

As the idiom says “Tell me and I will forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I learn”. Neurosciences have recently shown that active learning is indeed more beneficial because it involves a greater number of neural connections, stimulating a variety of areas of the brain and promoting memory. Interacting with peers has been shown to be very efficient to stimulate learning. Teaching somebody what you are learning is actually a very effective way to deeply understand it and remember it.

Therefore avoid online lectures by all means, otherwise you risk losing your audience attention pretty quickly. 

To help you do so, take the time to list your objectives, learning objectives and also your broader objectives like team building, building a sense of ownership, etc.

 Let me share with you what we do at Uplifters to give you some ideas. We are targeting migrant domestic workers in South-East Asia. Our core signature program is a three-week course delivered through a Facebook chatbot on a daily basis. Students are supported in a group chat of ten people that is facilitated by a team leader, an alumni trained to support her peers. The course is hosted on an online education platform but from a student’s perspective you never leave Facebook messenger. This is necessary as most don’t use emails or internet browsers and have no storage on their phones to download additional apps. They share their “exercises” (we call them “challenges”) and participate in the discussions with their peers in their class chat when they can during the day. It’s totally asynchronous.

This program is designed to scale while guaranteeing impact but does not allow for a lot of interactions between students and experts (that would not be scalable nor realistic to ask them to connect regularly for scheduled video conferences with teachers).

We want to offer our most committed team leaders additional learning opportunities and more interactions with our office team. There are about thirty team leaders, located in either Hong Kong or Singapore so our initial plan was to organise three face-to-face workshops in each country throughout the year. We have built a pool of experts to share their knowledge during these seminars.

Of course, we had to think of an alternative because of COVID-19. For these workshops we don’t have the same constraints. There are not that many members so we can afford to explain to them one by one how to use the tools and check beforehand what their availability is. One of our objectives is to keep building their sense of ownership towards Uplifters and have an interaction that goes beyond chat messages.  So we will transition this one-day seminar to a one-week online seminar with material accessible asynchronously and scheduled short meetups together on video-conferences to discuss with the experts and have online team-building activities.

You will find good ideas on how to actually use Zoom in an interactive way in this article by Seth Godin. 

To sum up: mix and match tools to recreate the kind of atmosphere you want in your regular classroom; make the most of asynchronous activities and keep live interactions short and as entertaining and engaging as possible. 

4. The final question (not the first) is to compare available tools and platforms or develop a tailor-made one.

My two cents: this is no longer about technology. There are tons of affordable options. Don’t make the mistake to develop your own e-learning platform. Especially if you are a newbie, select one of the very best all-in-one stop platforms to host your content or even just a google website and zoom (or a similar tool) if you need to do videos. Your added value is not in the platform but in how you deliver your content (course design) and support your audience. 

 5. Test and learn

Let your audience know this is new to you and you are learning yourself as well. Accept the possibility  of failure and be open minded to  change the way you do things. This is true in all times but even more when dealing with innovation. As we built Uplifters, we have realised that small incremental changes were working better than trying to build it “right” from the first day.

Moreover, don’t forget to assess yourself even if all seems to work. It seems these arrangements are exceptional but treat them as an opportunity to learn with the same feedback loop system you would have for your regular classes.

 Bonus: how do you market or position it compared with your real-life workshops?

There are 3 kinds of online courses:

  1. Knowledge only (videos, text lessons, quizzes)
  2. Knowledge + interaction with peers
  3. Knowledge + coaching (with or without interaction with peers)

 Your price (and completion ratio/impact) will depend on how you position yourself in between these three options.

 What are the challenges you are facing while designing your online course? Please comment, I will try my best to reply!

 A few words about Uplifters

Uplifters is a non-profit organisation registered in Hong Kong. Our mission is to empower vulnerable women in Hong Kong and Singapore with online education and peer support. We offer a free online course on money management and personal growth that is tailor-made for migrant domestic workers in South-East Asia. 

There are more than three million migrant domestic workers in South East Asia and the Middle East. Despite spending years abroad trying to make money and being far away from their families and children, most domestic workers go back to their home countries to the same situation or worse off than when they left. They face tremendous financial pressure and are victims of unethical migration corridors leaving them caught in debt cycles. 

Our mission at Uplifters is to empower them with the community support and the financial and personal development knowledge necessary to make their migration successful. Currently 1,500 students (mostly Filipino and Indonesian) have enrolled in our courses since our launch two years ago and we expect 1,400 more by the end of 2020. 

What’s unique about us is that Uplifters is a truly community-based organisation. Our students join class chats to discuss the lessons with their peers. These discussions are facilitated by alumni domestic workers who went through our “train the trainers” online program. Not only does it motivate them to complete the course, but it also guarantees that knowledge is transformed into action, hence making our programs both scalable and impactful. We have a 100% recommendation rate among our alumni. 97% said that it helped them reach their financial goals and 79% said our course transformed their lives. You can get a better sense of who they are and what we do by looking at our website, and Facebook page.

Because of the lack of funding due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are currently doing a crowdfunding campaign. Our objective is to raise USD $15,000 by May 10th. Many countries are giving subsidies, if you feel as if you don’t depend on it, we would greatly appreciate it if you could consider donating it to us. More about it here

You Didn’t Manage Your Finances Well, Now What?

What COVID-19 Is Doing Around The World

It seems everything we see, hear, read and do revolves around COVID-19 these days.

Although many companies cannot operate because of lock downs, we also see new innovative businesses offering solutions to the problems people are facing.

People have started making or selling masks.

Schools are pivoting from classroom training to online learning.

Even investors are jumping into the stock market now, hoping to pick up some bargains.

Being a migrant domestic worker, you are already very good at adapting. You made the difficult situation to move abroad, leaving your family and children behind and had to adjust to living in a foreign country, in your employer’s home. So I know you are well prepared!

Every Crisis Ends Eventually

We are a resilient species. 

That’s how we’ve survived for hundreds of thousands of years.

I know this crisis will pass. Just like all the other crises have from the first century.

Yes, we’ve had financial crises since the first century.

Since the 1970s, we’ve seen one every 10 years, almost like clockwork.

And after each one, we recover.

But it’s just not so easy when we’re right in the middle of one, is it?

This health and economic crisis has led to deaths, job loss, salary cuts, major life adjustments and plenty of uncertainty for all of us.

COVID-19 has forced us to innovate and entirely change our ideas of how we work and live.

We’re All In This Together

Besides the health risks that we are now subjected to, many of us are facing imminent job loss, salary cuts and potentially major lifestyle adjustments.

Remember though, it’s not just you who’s facing these fears and uncertainties.

Your bosses are facing them too.

So are their bosses. And their bosses’ bosses.

The good thing is, we’re in this together. 

And the best thing we can do is to get through this together.

4 Common Financial Challenges Most People Will Face And What You Can Do About It

Here are four common challenges you may be facing.

  1. Loan Default

If you’ve got loans, the biggest worry is how you’re going to make your monthly payments now when you or your family’s sources of income could potentially be cut off.

You’re likely to feel the stress of diminishing income and how you’re going to pay for your and your family daily needs because they can’t get to work or can no longer get work.

Check if you can get deferment on loans. 

Loan deferment is where you can ‘suspend’ your monthly loan repayments for a period of time and resume repayments when your income stabilizes again.

The governments in some countries have offered such an agreement because they know that many people are losing their jobs or finding it difficult to make their monthly loan repayments due to COVID-19.

If your loan is a secured loan such as a home mortgage applied through a bank, then you need to check with your bank about how to apply for such a deferment.

Different countries may have different banking regulations about loan deferment.

Because you are basically ‘suspending’ or delaying your loan repayment for the next few months, this may affect your overall outstanding loan amount.

Banks make money by charging an interest amount on the money they lend you.

By allowing you to suspend repayment, they stop collecting any interest during that suspension period.

When you resume your repayments, they may add this delayed interest amount to your total outstanding loan amount. It means you will have to pay more interest in the end.

So it’s best you check the exact details of the loan deferment and make sure you understand what deferring your loan repayments will mean for your outstanding loan when you resume your repayments.

If you’ve taken on unsecured loans like credit card or personal loans, talk to the lender to see if there are any other alternatives to work out a mutually acceptable repayment schedule.

  1. Lack of Cash Flow

You may find your cash flow is affected during this time because you need more upfront cash.

For example, your family may need more grocery budget to stock up essential food and supplies to tide them over the lockdown period where movement is restricted.

Unfortunately, many people are living paycheck to paycheck and it can be difficult to come up with a big sum of money on short notice.

If you find yourself in this situation, see how you can reduce your other expenses to free up cash for essentials like food and electricity.

Now is really the time to be clear  about what’s a need versus what’s a want.

Needs are what you need for daily living, like food, water, shelter and basic essentials. 

Wants are the things that are ‘nice to have’ but not necessarily required for your day-to-day living. 

Everyone’s needs and wants are different, and it’s sometimes tempting to say you need something when it’s really something you want and can do without for now.

Remember though, needs include expenses that help you make money. For example, you may need to spend money to get some raw materials to make something to sell. The money you spend on those raw materials will help you generate more money and hence becomes a need.

On the other hand, if those raw materials are for your entertainment purposes to help you or your family get your mind off your current situation and don’t help generate income or create opportunities to earn money, then it’s probably a want.

Cut on ALL your wants expenses right now. It’s only temporary, so do everything you can to defer these.

Are there people who owe you money? This would be a good time to ask for their repayment. 

Although, if they’re in a similar situation as you are, it could be challenging. 

They may well approach you to negotiate deferment on repayment like we discussed in point 1.

Is there some way you can find some arrangement? 

Do your friends have something you need that you can offer in exchange?

Think beyond cash and explore services and products you can offer each other.

This is a time for us to get creative, band together and help each other get through the crisis.

  1. Loss of job or salary reduction

Remember that your employer may similarly be facing financial struggles themselves. He may have to terminate your contract or renew with a lower salary or less benefits. 

Think ahead. Are you ready to accept a salary reduction or do you prefer to change employers? If you are happy with your current job situation, it may be worth thinking about it twice. It’s not a good time to be unemployed for anyone. Moreover visa and contract processing is slightly more complicated and takes longer at the moment.

If you choose or decide to change employers make sure to choose an ethical agency and preferably one that won’t charge you any fees like We are Caring in Singapore or Fair Employment Agency in Hong Kong. You can also register your profile on platforms like Helper Choice, Helper Place or Anisya.

  1. What Else Can You Do If You’ve Exhausted Your Options

Find out if your government is offering any assistance to you and your family during this time. 

If you are working abroad and not eligible for government support because you’re not a citizen in your host country, check if you or your family back home can qualify for government support in your home country.

Research and tap on every program you can qualify for. 

This is not a time to feel ashamed that you need government support. 

You’re a contributing member to the economy wherever you work so be proud and encouraged that you’re doing the best you can for your employer and your family.

Stay updated on any support packages your government may be offering, but always verify the sources of such information is official.

The COVID-19 crisis has also seen many scams bubbling to the surface as people resort to crimes and prey on your desperation to get access to your money.

2 Things You Should Have Done To Avoid Your Current Financial Situation – Luckily You Can Still Do These Now

  1. Get A Financial Education 

Financial distress can really affect every aspect of our well-being like our mental, emotional and physical health.

According to Harvard Medical School, such chronic stress like those caused by financial hardship can contribute to high blood pressure, promote the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction. 

It may also contribute to obesity, because people eat more when they’re stressed or because they exercise and sleep less. 

One simple way to experience financial wellness is to get yourself a financial education.

Unfortunately, many of us didn’t receive a proper and holistic financial education when we were growing up. We learned our financial lessons through caregivers, our parents, friends or society.

Although well-meaning, many of them were misinformed themselves.

And even if you taught yourself financial knowledge and content, that doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll behave in a way that’s consistent with the knowledge you know in your head.

We all know we need to spend less than we make, but most people find this difficult to do.

So learn how to master your financial behaviors and habits so you can be financially well.

When you’re financially well, you have a healthy financial life. 

This means that your debts are payable and you have enough emergency savings. You’re well prepared to handle any financial crisis. 

This makes you feel good about your financial health now and in the future.

There are many good financial literacy programs and resources you can start tapping into now.

Uplifters provides a free financial literacy program with a unique support group facilitated through alumni via a Facebook Messenger group chat. 

This could be the best time to enroll in such a course to help you better manage your money so you don’t end up back in the same financial place next time a financial crisis occurs. 

Remember, they will come again in 10 years. Will you be prepared then?

  1. Emergency Savings

While you get a good understanding of the different components of money management and personal finance, start setting aside emergency savings now.

This crisis should have shown you the importance of setting aside emergency savings.

No matter what income level you’re at, start there. 

It doesn’t matter how small the amount is to start. The important point is to just start.

Better still, see if your employer has an arrangement for you to set aside an amount each month that goes straight to your savings account so you don’t even see it or feel it. 

The remainder of your salary is then paid to you for your monthly expenses.

If you already have an account to receive your salary, set up an automatic transfer to have a set amount deducted each month the moment you receive your salary and deposited into another emergency savings account.

Then, ensure it’s really difficult for you to access that emergency savings account. 

For example, set your emergency savings account with a different bank with no ATM card for withdrawal. 

This account is only for real emergencies, like if your income gets cut off or you have a sudden huge medical bill.

Make having emergency funds a priority.

It will bring you relief during a crisis so that you have some space to breathe and figure out your next steps.

When you have that space, your next step is more likely to set you up for success rather than sink you deeper in financial stress like being forced to take on more debt just to survive.

The Secret to Financial Success

Successful people in any area do 2 things differently from the majority of people.

First, they make the decision to have unwavering faith that they have what it takes to achieve their goal.

Second, they make the decision to consistently take action towards their goals. 

They don’t stop until they do because they don’t give themselves any other option. 

They make the decision to believe that they can achieve their goal and are capable of putting in the effort until they accomplish their goal.

Notice that I say they MAKE THE DECISION.

That’s the first step that anyone can do, regardless of your age, education or income level and whatever ‘failures’ you’ve had in the past.

But not everyone will do that. 

And that’s why not everyone succeeds in achieving their goals or getting the financial results they want.

Once you make these 2 vital decisions to have unwavering faith and put in extraordinary effort and believe you have it in you to achieve it because your potential is limitless, you build the energy and motivation needed to improve your life.

This is what Hal Elrod calls The Miracle Equation in his book of the same name.

Unwavering Faith + Extraordinary Effort = Miracles

But the miracles he speaks of is not the sort that is random and cannot be repeated. Those sorts of miracles are akin to a ‘pray and wait’ approach.

Instead, the miracles he speaks of are repeatable and can be created by you because you know the process of how to create such miracles. 

The process is simply to make those 2 decisions and follow through with them until you accomplish your goal.

There is no other option.

The Most Important Thing To Remember – You Create Your Own Miracles

All successful people made those 2 decisions – whether they were conscious of it or not. 

They did not give up but followed their vision as far as they could and doing that allowed them to create extraordinary new realities. A miracle.

You decide what you can or cannot do, not your friends, your family, your parents or society.

You don’t blame external factors, like the economy, the lack of money, time, energy or any other excuse you give.

Instead, you believe in yourself and your own limitless potential. 

Seeing others achieve what you dream of is proof that anyone can do the same, no matter their circumstances.

The goal you decide on doesn’t have to be big and world changing. 

It can be as big or small, easy or complicated as you like. The key is that it must be important to you because that is what will drive you to achieve it.

What is your motivation for wanting financial wellness and success?

Is it for your kids?

To take care of your elderly parents and siblings? 

Or to maintain a quality of life you desire in retirement? 

Maybe you just want to have enough money to get married and buy your first house?

Whatever your motivation is, use that to fuel your unwavering faith and extraordinary effort.

Then create your very own miracle.

———-

This article was written by Sharon Sidhu, Founder of Two Point Zero. Two Point Zero offers lessons, tips and practical actions that go beyond just financial literacy and knowledge. 

In addition to financial education, Sharon leverages her many years as a human resources practitioner and leadership trainer to help you change your behavior so you can experience long-term holistic financial wellness.