Sisters, sisters are we!

Here is a beautiful poem of our alumni and Team Leader, Maria Nemy Lou Rocio, during our online 3rd anniversary. 


We are sisters!
Not by blood and neither a kin
The connection we have
Is deeper than friendship has ever been
In this community where we belong

We are women
Of meaningful past, a strong present
Holding a threshold of the next generation
Committed to serve
A common goal that everybody deserves
To lift up one another
To move forward together


We are sisters!
We may, or we may not know each other personally
Seldom talk or just see each other virtually
But we understand, we comprehend
Completely
That you are always there
And I am always here

We grow and learn,
We laugh, cry and yearn
To win our battles,
We never say never
For your fight is my fight
And if you win, then I win

Whenever you’re lost for words
Or don’t know how to express your thoughts
When you struggle to show your true self
And you need someone to say
Hey sis! I got you on this!
I will be that someone and I should insist
Remember that
If you ever fall backward
I’ll be there to push you
Hand in hand, we will move upward
When you’re feeling weak and low
The world seems to crumble

Before your eyes and tears won’t stop but flow
My shoulders are built for you
Lean on them if you may
I’ll turn your frown into a smile
Draw the sun on your cloudy day

But know that it’s not every day
We’re cookies and cream or
Peaches and mangoes
There are times when we get on each other’s nerves
And there are things we say that we never mean
We love and hate, hate and love
But at the end of the day
We choose to set aside our differences
And we accept that each one of us
Has flaws and are not perfect

So I’ll keep you in my heart
And treasure our journey
Miles or inches apart
Our connection will always be defined
By the memories that we created
And I’ll always have you by my side
Because we are sisters, sisters are we!

Manage your life the smart way

Our Dare to Dream online course provides different tools and ideas to grow personally, acquire new skills, manage hard-earned money and start building your life plan.

It’s not easy to apply all these tools in daily life. Where to start? What are the first steps? How to make sure to manage our lives in the right way in order to execute our plan?

Here is a checklist to help you organize your life the smart way and check you’re on track with what needs to be done!

A Guide for Expectant Parents: Fair Agency x Holly Wong Yoga x Uplifters

Hello and congratulations!
Having a baby is an exciting and busy time. We created this guide to help families who are considering employing a domestic worker primarily to help with baby care. We will walk you through hiring and managing a domestic worker, with expert content by Fair Employment Agency and Uplifters. As a wonderful addition, we have soothing pre-natal yoga resources from Holly Wong.

Fair Employment Agency is a nonprofit agency that helps employers hire great domestic workers. Their mission is to set a new standard for professionalism, ethics, and service for recruitment in the sector. 

Holly Wong is an experienced Pregnancy Yoga Teacher, Parent Educator, and Mother. She is passionate about providing education and resources to inspire a positive pregnancy and childbirth. 

Uplifters is a non-profit organisation that helps migrant domestic workers break the cycle of poverty, and build lives they want for themselves. This is achieved through online education and community support. Uplifters’ core online courses focus on money management and personal growth. In 2021, they will be launching a Baby Care Online Course with a dual access for parents and their domestic worker.

To download the FREE PDF Guide, please share your email address below. We will only use your email to send you the Guide, subscribe you to the Fair Agency Bulletin (a monthly newsletter on hiring and managing by Fair Agency), and for Uplifters to send you updates on their programmes and courses for domestic helpers.

Opening address of our Director Sujata Ramakrishna on behalf of our Board at our Annual Team Conference, December 7th, 2020

Hi Everyone, Mabuhay! Selamat Siang! Salut! What a great way to start the week! My name is Sujata, and I am a member of the Uplifters Board, together with Janice (our Chair), Romain, and Alex. On behalf of them, let me say how happy we are to be here together with you to celebrate your achievements and the impressive impact you all have made this year, despite it being a very tough year.

I want to take a minute to bring it back to why are we here today. We are united by the mission of Uplifters to enable migrant domestic workers to transform their lives, thanks to the combined power of online education and community support to make migration successful.

So why am I here today? I am here because I am humbled and honoured to have the opportunity to work with Marie and Uplifters. This mission of providing access to education resonates very personally with me. I believe that access to education is the first step in opening access to opportunities. I have personally benefitted from access to education.

The other aspect of Uplifters that resonates with me personally is the approach. I have worked in leadership positions for a good part of my career. I’ve always known this, but you bring this concept to life that leadership is not a title or a position, it is a choice, and you Team Leaders and Mentors have made that choice. You have chosen to be leaders in your community. You have chosen to mentor, lead, coach and support your peers to be successful in their educational journey. You make Uplifters truly a community-led enablement program.

Despite the pandemic, you, the Mentors, Team Leaders, Volunteers and Staff have uplifted the lives of many migrant domestic workers. This is really displaying a can-do attitude. Being positive in the face of challenges.

To all of the volunteers and staff, thank you for making lives richer by your service. You share your time and expertise and foster interactions at a grassroots level. We thank current and past volunteers for all your contributions. Regardless of how many hours you choose to give, we want you to know that you make a difference and your volunteered time is acknowledged, valued and cherished.

The personal success stories and the work that you do that Marie shares with us, we are thankful that the Uplifters team enables successful learning and that you live the values of enablement, positivity and warmth.

I’m based out of Hong Kong but consider both Hong Kong and Singapore as my home. I look forward to future opportunities to meet you all in person, in either in my home cities…..or Dubai!

Maraming Selamat, Terima Kasih, Merci beaucoup, Thank you from our hearts.

“To my dear fellow domestic workers, don’t stop learning because learning has no age limit.”

Today we turn the spotlight on Naicy Candido. She is from Aklan, Philippines and has been working as a domestic worker in Singapore for the past three years. 

“I finished the “Dare to Dream’ course, as well as ‘Make it Happen’ and ‘Become a Leader’ over 2020. I am fortunate to have employers who treat me very well. I share a special bond with my former employers’ two children, and we still keep in touch. We sometimes video call, which I love as it makes me feel as though I found my second family here. 

Sunday is my day off, and I wanted to spend it doing something productive. When Uplifters popped up on my Facebook feed, it caught my attention, and I enrolled straight away. The online course on money management was very interesting and kept me motivated to finish.

Uplifters is unique because it is free, and it’s completely online. I log on in my free time, from anywhere, which makes it very flexible. When I finished the ‘Dare to Dream’ course, I felt more confident in handling my hard-earned money and realising my self-worth. I have savings now and am mindful about my finances.

I used to be a shy person, but now I am happy to talk and motivate others, as one of Uplifters’ team leaders. I enjoy seeing the members of my class chat, share their thoughts and their eagerness to learn, despite their busy schedules. It is where I get my encouragement to keep going. 

My goal is to save for my future. I want to launch my own clothing business and buy properties. My first step is to make a ‘SMART’ plan, work hard and save money. 

To my dear fellow domestic workers, don’t stop learning because education has no age limit. When an opportunity arises, just grab it! Don’t be afraid to try new things. My favourite quote by CS Lewis is: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Explore, learn more and enroll now! 

To Uplifters, thank you so much for offering us a chance to learn. A super salute to our CEO Marie, who wholeheartedly built this fantastic place for us to better ourselves.” 

“To those who want to expand their learning journey to prepare for the future, join Uplifters and be part of our community.”

We are very proud of our students who completed “Dare to Dream'”, Uplifters’ 3-week free online course on money management and personal growth.

Mary Grace Basilia is one of the graduates of our May 2020 batch and is now enrolled in our “Make It Happen” follow-up online course. She is from the Philippines and has been working in Singapore for the past eleven years.

“I came from a low income family in the Philippines and the eldest among five siblings. I have a degree in Food Technology. I decided to make a sacrifice and support my family to give them a better life. I had worked in many jobs in the Philippines but the salary was never enough to support the needs of my family, specifically the school fees for my siblings. My sister aims to graduate in hotel & restaurant management while my brother in accountancy and my youngest sister as a teacher. I feel my sacrifice was worth their education and future.

I found Uplifters in 2018 via Facebook. I was curious and had a conversation with Uplifters’ CEO & Founder Marie. We talked about some of the difficulties that I face, for example, how I lost confidence to speak to people face to face. I enrolled in Dare to Dream because I wanted to work on my weaknesses and better my skill set.

I was a shy person, but now as an active volunteer and ambassador at Aidha, a non profit organisation in Singapore. I support students by providing motivation and encouragement. Since taking the Make it Happen course in Uplifters, I discovered my passion for journaling. My communication skills have greatly improved. I can use the skills I have learnt when I start my cafe and restaurant in the Philippines. I would be able to support my community particularly the underprivileged children and their education once my business flourished. I want to help implement a strategy for the future through financial studies and mentoring to help others, like me, change their lives.

My message to my fellow domestic workers is if you feel alone and have difficulties in your situation, I encourage you to share your issues. Speaking up is the first step. To those who want to discover their abilities and expand their learning journey, in order to prepare for the future, this community is most definitely for you! Please join and learn by taking courses, learning from others and making friends! Never stop learning because life never stops teaching. Remember, especially during this global pandemic, that everyday is a new opportunity, every challenge is a new hope, embrace the uncertainty with open arms, there are no guarantees but that’s what makes life exciting! I would like to share my motto with you, “Everyone is unique, believe in yourself based on your credibility and authenticity. Follow your heart, always persevere and strive to reach your goals because life is beautiful.”

Uplift your Night Episode #6: Goal setting and Planning

Here is the transcript of Uplift your Night Episode #6 on October 14th, 2020 with Don Hatch, coach and mentor and Head of Operations for a Startup Incubator.

Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining me tonight, I am very happy to be here. I will tell you a bit more about Uplifters and specifically, this Facebook Live series. I am the CEO and founder of Uplifters, which is a nonprofit organisation, empowering underprivileged communities with an online education and case reports. Essentially, we offer a free online course in money management and also a personal growth program for domestic workers. The first course is titled ‘Dare to dream’. Joining is very easy; you simply click ‘send message’ on our Facebook page! 

First and foremost, Uplifters is a community where we can learn and support one another. Tonight’s topic is ‘goal setting and planning’. As well as a lesson, this is also a discussion, so please feel free to ask any questions. Most of us have dreams and hopes for the future, but often we just forget to make a plan and set realistic goals. Then, as a result, nothing happens. So to help us navigate this important topic, we introduce our guest speaker Don. Don is the Head of Operations for a startup incubator in Europe. The company helps entrepreneurs develop their initial idea, then move to launch successful companies. Six years ago, Don started his own business, with more than 30 years of business and leadership experience, he’s also passionate about coaching and mentoring people to help achieve their fullest potential. So, please welcome Don!

Don: Thank you very much Marie, thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here.

Goal setting is very important and requires a plan. You need to figure out how to get from where you are, to where you want to be. In other words, you need to create a plan for achieving and evaluating the goal. When things don’t go according to plan, what’s important is that you take the time to evaluate the issue. I have a couple of quotes to demonstrate: former American president, Dwight Eisenhower, said “plans are worthless, but planning is everything” and an 18th-century German general said, “no plan ever survives the first shot of a battle”. To put these into context, is to say that life happens, and when things don’t go according to plan, we need to be able to adapt to a new situation. If you’ve already thought through your goal, and evaluated how to achieve this goal, then you have also already considered the variables; the things that could potentially change. Therefore, your response will be apt, and you will be able to adapt the plan to still achieving the final goal. Essentially, it’s about having a backup plan. My aim today is to help you fully understand how to set goals and how to create plans to achieve those goals. 

To do this, firstly, I’m going to talk about what goals are and are not. And then to give you some tips on how to plan out your goals and how to achieve them.

When I was first asked to give this presentation, I realised your life circumstances are very different from mine. I’m a middle-aged, white, American College-educated with a Masters degree in Business. I’m a business owner. We come from very different backgrounds, and you may be thinking I couldn’t possibly understand you and your life. So let me address this by sharing a little of my life journey. I want to help you understand some of the challenges I have experienced in my life, and how they have shaped the person that I am today. 

When I was eight years old, my parents, unfortunately, went from being very successful to losing everything they owned. We never really recovered, and it had a profound effect on my father’s self-confidence. I remember one shopping trip he asked the butcher for bones for the dog, but we didn’t actually have a dog! He wanted the bones to make soup stock to feed his family. He was too proud to admit we didn’t have enough money to pay for the groceries. At a later date, I found out my father was selling his blood to pay for groceries. And so I completely understand what it’s like to be in a situation, struggling to put food on the table. It is a challenge. 

I am also dyslexic, so school was very difficult. I just managed to graduate from high school, started working full time at 14 years old and was living on my own at 17. I worked for several companies, but when the recession hit in 2008, I found myself in a worrying financial situation. Between 2008 and 2011, I watched 20 years of wealth that I had accumulated completely disappear. I filed for bankruptcy in 2012. 

So, although I do not know your individual stories or circumstances, I do have my own major life events which I have fought to overcome. I hope from my story we can have empathy for each other, and my advice can be meaningful and helpful. 

Now let me tell you a little about my successes. I bought my first house when I was 19 years old, I started my first business when I was 27, which I ran for 18 years. At this stage in my life, I took my first vacation ever, I went to a different country and experienced a new culture, language and people. This was my first taste of travel, and since then, I have travelled to 45 different countries. 

At the age of 40, I decided to change the path of my journey and return to college. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and also achieved an MBA from a top school. I decided to move to Europe, my goal being to start seeing the world as a citizen rather than just a tourist. I created a seven-year plan of how I was going to get into a  top 10 Business School, pay for it, and succeed at it. I won a scholarship and was able to graduate with zero debt. 

What are goals? Goals are tangible and achievable. They are not wishes, hopes or dreams such as “I wish that I had more hair”,  “I hope that I live to be 100 years old”,  “I dream to travel to another planet”. Their occurrence or outcome is completely out of my control. Alternatively, if I want to become a fluent Spanish speaker by January 2022, then this target is measurable, realistic, and has a specific timeframe. 

We introduce the SMART goal. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. 

Applying the SMART goal framework:

SPECIFIC: If you were to communicate your goal to somebody, would they be able to repeat it back to you? Were you specific enough? 

MEASURABLE: How can I measure the success of my actions towards my goal? In the case of learning fluent Spanish, I could take regular exams, or in the case of losing weight, I can measure how much weight I’ve lost per week.

ATTAINABLE: Is the goal realistically within your capacity? 

RELEVANT: This is another way of questioning whether something is meaningful.  Is it purposeful to you? 

TIME-BASED: In what time frame are you looking to achieve this goal?

Additionally, the goal needs to be clear and visible in your mind. It needs to be written down, posted on your wall, on your phone, and told to other people. That makes it visible, tangible and real. It needs to be reviewed and adjusted as things change over time. 

The goal you set must be important to you. If you simply set a goal for the sake of having a goal, e.g. you want to be an Olympic athlete, but you don’t really mean it, then it’s something that’s never really going to happen. The goal must be something that you’re willing to commit to, devote time and energy and give it life.

If your goals are truly important to you, if you’re committed to your goals, if you do the planning, keep your goals visible, and include others, help them, let them advise you to how to keep moving forward, you can achieve them. 

Let’s look at an example of losing weight. Most people say that they want to be in better shape, but they don’t necessarily have a plan of how to get there. They start making drastic changes to their routine. They change their diet or eat much less than usual. Perhaps they start exercising but don’t consider what type of exercise, how long, how often. They may even note some small results or changes. But the lack of structure or milestones usually fails. The goal needs to be more specific: To lose five kilos or to fit a particular dress size. Each requires a different strategy and planning. 

Let’s take another example, ‘sending your children to university’. How do we reverse engineer this goal? Firstly, is ’sending my children to university’ a SMART goal? Can we apply the SMART framework? Is it specific, which university? When? Is it measurable? How many of your children do you intend to send to university? Is it achievable? Do you have sufficient time to achieve this goal? 

Now amend the goal to ‘my goal is for my eldest daughter to graduate from a nursing program from an accredited university in 2029’. This goal is specific, clear and measurable. Um, so as far as the question, is this achievable? Is it something that you could make happen? That depends. If your oldest daughter is 17, currently in school and achieves good grades, then yes, it’s likely attainable. If the goal is to graduate from Harvard University, which has a tuition cost exceeding $120,000 a year, for five years, then this is probably not an achievable goal. Move the goalposts to a local university, with a tuition cost approximately $8,000 per year; then this is realistic. There are also other variables to consider, such as the willingness of your daughter to put in the work. 

The biggest roadblock for most people considering university is finances. How can you possibly commit to the cost for the five years? Typically, the advice is, to have two years of tuition fees saved before the start. Whilst loans may seem tempting, loans accrue interest, and this is an expensive method of raising money. I would strongly discourage loans. 

There are other questions to consider; Is scholarship an option, either from the school directly or a nonprofit organisation. Is the local university a good option? That would negate the need for housing. Could your daughter work part-time whilst at school?

All these deciding factors require time and research. There are numerous questions and variables, each one leading to a different outcome. You have to decide which is best suited to your situation and which is most achievable for you. An excellent way to weigh up the options is to draw a visual diagram, so it’s clear and easy to see where each path leads. My plan was written on a  whiteboard on my wall. It was always visible. Every week I would go through and evaluate the items. What do I need to change? What was the next step? 

Whilst at university, I fostered several meaningful relationships, not only with business leaders but also professors. I shared with them my goals and why they were important to me. These mentors became my ‘my personal advisory board’; they were people who advised me. I leant on their collective wisdom. For you, your support system could be trusted friends or family. But be warned, that if the advice being offered is something you are being asked to pay for, or being pushed in a particular direction, then this may not be genuine help.

Reach out to others who have already been through university, what was their way? What was their plan? This is a great learning tool, using peers as advisors. Use nonprofits such as Uplifters. Setting an ambitious goal, such as attending university, is easy when broken down into smaller steps. The big dreams then become attainable.

After thorough analysis, you may determine that you simply don’t have the time or resources for that specific goal. Perhaps consider changing the end goal, instead of attending a three-year nursing school programme, maybe a three-year medical tech, or a two-year assistant course?

I realise that was a lot of material, but hopefully breaking it down into steps has helped make it more digestible. I am now happy to answer any questions.

Thanks, it was very clear. I like the idea of a SMART goal. We have a question, from Kenny asking “what to do when an unexpected event happens and changes your plan?”

Don: This is the very essence of planning; things are going to change. But if you’ve thought about how you’re going to achieve the goal, and you’ve broken it down into its different parts, then you’ve taken the time to think about how to get there. Take the scholarship example, if you are not able to attain a scholarship, which is some of the money that you were relying on to pay for university, then the alternate, to that scenario, should already have been considered in your goal map. A simple example I can describe is a hiking trip I planned which was ten days long. Obviously, I couldn’t carry all the required food with me, so I planned out the trip, I set up various posts along the way and accounted for weather changes. My plan was adaptable.

Thank you, I think, especially in these COVID-19 times, we all have to make our plans flexible. Do you have any specific advice on how to stay motivated?

Don: I think it depends on the scale of the goal. Small goals, such as saving enough to buy a particular Christmas present for your children, are achievable. Other bigger goals, which are of great importance which, for me, was achieving my MBA, take time, sacrifices and energy. But again, they can be broken down into smaller pieces. I call this ‘sushi sizing’ the goal! Achieving little parts of your goal often helps to stay motivated and on track. Your goal must be important to you; otherwise, the motivation will wane, and you’ll never achieve it.

Thanks, that makes sense. You can see your progress, and you can adapt easier.

Don: There’s also nothing wrong with creating an adjustable goal. For example, I am a marathon runner, and since I’m very competitive, I decided I wanted to complete the marathon in a specific time. However, I also set a secondary goal, which, if I hit, I would feel satisfied. I would still have succeeded, and it was within my capacity. It’s about setting a ‘range’ for success. This is something I teach upcoming entrepreneurs. 

Nine out of 10 businesses fail. The success rate is very low. You may spend a great deal of time and money, but at some point, you have to take a step back and assess whether the right thing is to keep pushing forth. Maybe a change of direction is required. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. What I encourage these teams to do is not to say, ‘if we don’t hit this goal in six months, then we’re going to stop’. That is a very black and white, rigid goal. The key is to evaluate how achievable the goal is at regular intervals. Then decide whether to keep going or change the final goal post. Having a range for the goal is key here. 

Let’s look at an example of saving for a house if your goal is to put $150 every month into a savings account. But after six months, you’ve only been able to put $50 per month into that account. It’s quite obvious you’re never going to hit your initial goal. That doesn’t necessarily mean you must stop saving for a house, simply adjust the goal to match the new rate of savings. Consider what is achievable, in what timeframe. 

Thank you, Don. I’m delighted to have these Facebook live seminars and grateful to have you with us tonight. 

Don: Thank you very much. The pleasure was all mine, and I’m glad I could help. Hopefully, it’s helpful for everyone watching.

Uplift your Night Episode #5, Mental Health: Supporting yourself and others

Here is the transcript of Uplift your Night Episode #5 on October 8th, 2020 with Valencia Myint, Counsellor and Founder of Confide In.

Hello, everyone, nice to see you all tonight. I am Marie, I am Uplifters’ Founder and CEO. Thank you so much for joining me tonight. We will have a very special guest and I’m excited to introduce her to you. So let me introduce Valencia. Valencia is a counsellor and . a mental health advocate. She’s supporting people on their life journey, advocating to increase awareness on mental health topics to break the stigma in seeking help. She works with refugees, migrant workers, trafficking victims, abuse victims and people going through difficult times and currently providing support services online. We are super, super lucky to have someone like Valencia with us tonight.

Valencia: Hi Marie. Thanks for having me. Thank you for the introduction.

Let’s start with our first question for Valencia. How to recognize someone who struggled with mental health. So you can see they are stressed, maybe they seem anxious or depressed or lonely. But they haven’t  asked you for help. So how can you react?

Valencia: Before I answer, I just wanted to say good evening to everyone, wherever you are in Singapore or in Hong Kong, it’s really good to meet you all. And thanks for the first question. So not everyone will reach out for help, as we know, right? So for us to recognize someone who is struggling, it really does help to be observant about that person. So the first and foremost thing is to notice a change in the person, maybe they’re behaving differently to what you know before. So for example, maybe they are withdrawing from like social situations, for example, you’re not really seeing them so much anymore. Maybe there’s changes in their routines. So for example, changes in their sleep behavior, or like their appetite, maybe they’re eating a lot more or a lot less, feeling really fatigued, overly tired a lot of the time, a loss of enjoyment in the activities that they used to enjoy doing. So that’s kind of behavioral differences, or changes, but then there can also be very, like very much emotional changes as well. Maybe they are being more emotionally reactive, or non reactive. Maybe expressing more negative thoughts, for example, feeling hopeless, or worthless, or a loss in concentration, low mood, for example. Even things like suicidal ideation, or action plans. You notice maybe they’re more tense than they were before. So all of these things that are changes in your state, and it can also be a prolonged change in state as well. So for example, maybe this is taking place for like a few weeks or maybe even months then that’s also something to be aware about. So really, it’s kind of differences in people’s states. And if this is a prolonged state as well. The important thing also is to notice, not only differences in other people, but also in yourself as well. Just to be mindful of yourself, if there are things which you feel that things have changed for you and a little bit, it’s also good to be mindful about these changes, too. And maybe what led to it. Another thing which I wanted to touch on on this question as well is the stigma that is associated with mental health, particularly in certain communities. For example, like a lack of awareness, or knowledge of the topic, it’s something that we don’t talk about culturally, or even in our society, or even in our religion. All these kinds of differences can dictate maybe whether or not this is something that is normal to talk about. So on top of this, it’s also differences in language, maybe, because when it comes to talking about mental health, we talk about feelings a lot. And I know in some languages, a lot of the English words for our feelings may not be directly translatable. So it’s also kind of language barriers and talking about how we’re feeling or what we’re going through. So I think for that, it’s really the best to try to normalize conversations around mental health, try to talk about it as much as we can using language that is kind of similar to what we’re feeling, or at least to try to translate it in the best way that we can.

I think the first step is to acknowledge it and it’s not as easy as it seems. Just acknowledge that you’re not feeling well. Recognizing if it’s just a bad moment or if it’s something more serious can be difficult.  So what is the difference exactly between mental health and mental illness?

Valencia: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think a lot of people get a little bit kind of confused about this. And it’s important to differentiate between the two. So mental health is with everybody, right? Just like how physical health is with everybody. And mental health is defined as kind of an emotional and psychological well being. So good mental health relates to the ability to cope with the normal stresses of life. So mental health, I guess, we can think of it like it’s on a continuum. So it ranges between good mental health and maybe kind of mental health issues. So in a lifespan, we vary in this position on this continuum. So, for example, we have maybe good days, we have bad days, you know, we kind of go through ups and downs. And that’s very normal, right? I think, a lot of society right now, especially with social media, we don’t see the bad side, because a lot of most people want to, like showcase the good things which are going on, but really behind the scenes, like everyone experiences these good and bad moments. And when it comes to a mental illness, this is something that is diagnosable, remember. So a mental health, like problem or issue may not necessarily lead to an illness. So, for example, we speak about depression, a lot of anxiety and things like that. And these are illnesses, which are diagnosable, and they are also treatable, as well. So the important thing to remember is that mental health is really what everyone has, and it’s not something that is a bad thing. It’s just something to be mindful about and to acknowledge.

We have a question from team leader Ody. How can a simple person like me who is not a professional like you can express or support help to someone who reached out to me about emotional health? I just want to be sure I’m saying the right thing. I know the right thing to say is to ask a professional but not everyone is open to it. They are shy. What comforting words should I say to them?  And can I say that they need professional help? If everybody’s coming to you to ask for support, and at some point it’s just not your job, and you don’t know what to reply.

Valencia: Yeah, we’re actually going to cover this a little bit later in quite a lot more texts. So maybe we could go directly to that in a way. I think that the first thing is that really, especially being in a community, I think a lot of people especially being a community leader, as well, a lot of people do come to you for emotional support, and things like that. So really anyone and everyone can help initially, it’s kind of like we call it a psychological first aid. And so it’s at the initial stages, maybe even before like professional help is sought, or maybe even some people may not be willing to seek professional help yet, but then you can always kind of be there as an initial support so that the person doesn’t feel alone, you know. So there is an acronym that can be used, which may be helpful in this kind of situation. And it’s called ALGEE, it’s  A, L, G, E, E. So it’s kind of like an an action plan, which is like a flexible thing, it’s not really something that you have to do in order, but it’s just a kind of guidance for people to be aware of. And if someone is coming to them with maybe an issue and you want to provide some initial support, then it’s some kind of a guideline, so to speak. So the A is  to approach about your concerns, and also to assess and assist with any mental health crisis. So what do we mean by approaching with your concerns, obviously, this is maybe someone that you know, that’s in your community, you have observed, maybe some changes in them, and you’re quite concerned about their well being. So you want to approach them with the concerns that you have? So the first thing to be mindful of is, I call it kind of the five W’s, you know, so who, what, why, when and where? Would you like, are you the best person to be approaching this person? Because maybe you recognize that there’s a change in this person. But then maybe there’s someone that might be better suited to approach them, because maybe they’re a bit closer, that kind of thing. So you have to think about whether you’re the right person to do so. And in terms of what are you going to be talking about, you know, like your observations on them your concerns? And why are you concerned, and when would be a good time to talk to them. So for example, in like a confidential place, somewhere that is comfortable for them, maybe not somewhere out in the open, where there’s a lot of other people around where maybe it’s a sensitive thing, they don’t really want to talk in such a big group. And  that leads to kind of where to talk about it, like are you going to go somewhere that’s a bit more private. And then, then that way, you kind of setting up the scene to talk to this person. And later on, we’ll come a little bit more in depth in terms of assessing and assisting with potential crises. So by crisis, it’s like someone who is in an urgent situation, maybe having some kind of suicidal ideation, and things like that. So the first thing would be to approach the person. The L, which is the second letter is to listen and to support non judgmentally. We want to really provide a kind of atmosphere where this person is being listened to. And they are not feeling like they’re being judged for what they’re feeling, maybe what they’re thinking or what they’re going through. So for example also, one thing to remember is that as humans, we are quite biased people, like we have our set values, our set biases, it’s important that when you’re approaching a person to kind of remember to maybe put those things aside, because maybe it can kind of impact how we respond to a person. So we want to make things quite open ended, very non judgmental, to listen actively, and to be respectful, you know, and be empathetic about their situation. And to maybe even normalize the situation, you know, like speak from your own past experience, like oh,  I’ve kind of felt something like that before, like, I knew someone who went through something like this before, and they were able to get through that as well. So it’s also kind of, you know, your language, both kind of verbally and your body language. And also to kind of try to empower the person as well, you know, remember that it’s not just listening, right? It’s more than just that. It’s more kind of active listening, I guess, like you are listening to them, you’re not being judgmental about their situation. And you are responding in a way that is very open, you’re letting them share their thoughts with you. But also to remember that you also need to kind of set boundaries for yourself, to know that, you know, what they’re telling you is not your responsibility to take on on your shoulders, you know, but you are there as a support. So this is the listening aspect. When someone kind of comes to you, then you, you’re providing that space, where someone is feeling like, oh, there is someone who cares about me who wants to listen to what I’m feeling or what I’m going through.

It’s easier said than done, right?  It’s very hard to listen to someone without, you know, being willing to give too many advice and then you’re not really listening. 

Valencia: I think maybe what people feel is that like, okay, someone’s coming to me with a problem. I feel like I have to solve this.. Yeah, there is that urge, right, the initial urge where you’re like, Okay, I want to get this person out of this. And, but then I think sometimes what we kind of oversee is that some problems are very difficult, or maybe not on you to solve as well. Because remember, like a person is telling you maybe just a portion of what’s going on, maybe they’re not at that point in time, maybe you don’t know the full story yet. So it’s kind of hard to also try and kind of solve this, because maybe it’s no, it’s also not your problem to solve, but it’s something that you are kind of supporting them with, you know, so it’s also like part of a bigger picture, which maybe, maybe you might not know, at that, like know about at that time. But yeah, I think that’s a very initial kind of urge that you have, especially because, I mean, obviously you care about the person, you want to help them. And so this would be how you would help them. But I think it’s just to be mindful of, you know, your kind of responsibility in this and whether or not it’s really for you to provide that solution so to speak. Yeah. And so this leads me on to the G which is to give support and information. So I think it’s also helpful to give the person options. Informing them that help is available to reassure them, you know that there is a hope for recovery, in that sense, a way to cope with things. And just going back to that emotional support, fact, you know, just to really kind of be there, show support, and just especially, because people can feel like they’re alone in these times, and it’s just good to know that you’re you’re not alone, I think that kind of gives a little bit of a boost, in that sense of a little bit of a motivator, that at least, you know, there is help out there. And that I’m not alone.

I think it’s the less is more approach. It seems we’re doing so little by just saying we’re here and not giving any advice that’s not diving in. But it’s more right? Just saying we’re here is actually more helpful than trying to solve the problem for the person.

Valencia: Yeah, exactly. And I think for us as maybe helpers, maybe you feel like you haven’t done so much. Because you haven’t seen anything that has changed or whatever it may be that you may want to see. But then for the person receiving it, I think it does speak volumes, just, like just looking at some of the comments. Just even being there to listen, is a great help. And sometimes it’s just really just a platform where okay, someone can just say whatever it is, and then that really sometimes is like a bit of a relief, because it’s like that emotional burden that you’re carrying and then it’s kind of a bit of a release for some people just to kind of talk about it, and have someone listen and be kind of open about it and not to judge you for what you’re going through.

We have a comment from Fidelisa. She says listening is the best way to comfort someone who is in depression. Fidelisa is also one of our team leaders. And they are doing so much amazing work for their peers and supporting them. We have another question: What is the best approach if the person urgently needs help but is hesitant to speak up?

Valencia: Well, I think if it’s quite urgent, then maybe you might have to take some measures,  it depends on what the urgent is, because if you’re talking about a crisis, for example, like there are maybe exhibiting quite suicidal tendencies, then maybe you may have to just kind of take more drastic action, right, like maybe to call emergency services. So if it’s very urgent like that, then you may have to take drastic action on behalf of that person. But if someone is kind of having maybe some issues, and it’s not that kind of urgent situation, but then they maybe don’t want to talk to you, or they don’t want to say anything, then I think that the best approach would maybe to just kind of like ask them, you know, like, why is it that you’re not willing to speak up? And just to continue being an encouragement for them to try to say something or encourage them to maybe speak to someone at least? If it’s not you, then maybe could it be someone else? Provide options. Is there someone that maybe you would be comfortable to speak to, if it’s not myself, then at least they will know of the other people they could speak potentially to, whether it’s the various organizations that can be contacted, or maybe even professional help, for example. So that’s also something to just kind of explore options with them and not to kind of force them to speak if they don’t want to, but to continue encouraging them and giving them the options and also following up with the person as well helps, maybe slowly, they will kind of get to a place where they’re feeling more comfortable, to speak up. 

So it’s for example, even if the person rejects you, it’s a good idea to just come back from time to time and check how the person is doing.

Valencia: I think so. It’s kind of like a caring approach as well. You want to make sure that they’re not getting much worse so to speak. And, of course, this really depends on the urgency of the situation. Like I said, if it’s a real crisis situation, you may have to take more drastic measures. But if it’s something that’s not so urgent in that sense, then it’s just kind of finding out maybe why they were reluctant.  And maybe trying to also help with the misconceptions, you know, like giving them the reassurance that there is help out there, if they are ready for there are options and then kind of following up and seeing just checking in like any friend would do really.

We have another question from Fidelisa. When anxiety affects someone. I’m not sure if you mean what you should do or how you can detect it. Maybe we can reply a little bit around these lines? 

Valencia:  Absolutely. I think with anxiety, it’s typically when you’re finding a kind of shift in your daily routine, like you’re finding your daily routine a little bit more difficult to carry out. This may be when anxiety is affecting you a little bit like for example, maybe you’re withdrawing from certain situations, or you are avoiding certain situations. Maybe when you’re feeling the effects of anxiety, like emotional stress, or physically you are feeling some changes, like for example, with anxiety, some of the physical changes can be like a fast heart rate, or your breathing is faster. You start sweating, feeling quite uncomfortable. I think maybe this is when you can be a bit mindful about anxiety, like what it is that you’re feeling. And also knowing what it might be that’s triggering that, like is it the situation you’re in, or maybe some thoughts that you’re having that’s leading to that? Typically, anxiety comes from the fear of something. So it’s good to ask yourself what is it that I’m afraid of, or worried about or feeling uncertain about? And if you’re finding that this is really affecting your daily routine, then this is something to just recognize in yourself, you know, if you’re sleeping not so great, your eating, appetite is changing. Yeah, these kind of changes. It’s also good to be mindful about.

Thanks, that is very helpful. We have another question that is a little bit related. So I’m just going to show it now, how to distinguish between the experience of stress and the experience of mental illness? 

Valencia: I think with mental illness as such, it is something like I said earlier that it is diagnosable. Typically, it’s something that maybe you’re experiencing for a prolonged time, for example, months, on ends, you know, like a very consistent state that you’re feeling. And so just to clarify that the experience of stress does not mean that you are mentally ill. Right? So stress is a very normal reaction. For humans, or for animals, actually,

it’s like a protective mechanism, right? So, for example, if we, if we face danger, then we have a stress response because we have to either protect ourselves, or we have to run away to try to protect ourselves, right? So stress is a very normal reaction for people. It’s only when it can be like, a negative effect on us, maybe we’re always feeling stressed out for things, which maybe,  it’s kind of  a prolonged kind of state of stress, then that’s when it can become like a negative effect on us. So, yeah, so stress, it can be something that feels like short term, and then once like the situation kind of gets a bit more settled, then maybe we feel less stressed, right. So, stress can be like very much ups and downs. We feel stressed on some days because maybe something is coming up, like, we have some big presentation to do or we have to talk in front of a big group of people. This can be like a period of stress, but then maybe once that is over, then we’re not feeling so stressed anymore. So, yeah, so then these kind of stressful moments, it does not mean that you are having like a serious mental illness.

Thanks a lot for the distinction.  It’s a very important topic for our community and we can show it in the number of viewers tonight which is very high. We were going through the AGLEE model a little bit earlier, and how to help people who come to you for support. So we had gone through the A for approach, L for listen non judgmentally, G for give support and information. And we were at the E, which is I think, quite related about when you can’t really support anymore.

Valencia: So E is encouragement of  appropriate professional help. So I think that the word appropriate is quite important here. Because for you being the initial kind of contact to this person, I guess you would be the person that would also know the story. So if you feel like maybe the help is not, maybe they would need a bit more help, then it’s just the encouragement of that there is professional support out there. And that there is appropriate professional help as well. So according to the situation, maybe they may need to go to like a doctor to get a referral or maybe to see a counselor, that kind of thing, or even to be referred to, you know, one of the organizations which can refer them on as well, because maybe you may not know where exactly to go. But then these organizations, for example, you guys Uplifters are the organizations helping migrant workers would have the knowledge of kind of where to refer people to and kind of following on from that, it’s also encouraging other support as well. So for example, your community support. Also support of  friends, family, religious group members, people who are kind of within the social network that you have, that can provide a kind of social support. widen and also on top of that, it’s also the self care, taking care of yourself and implementing this kind of self care routine, which is also helpful as well, just to like, for example, to maintain a balanced diet, to do exercise, things like that. It’s also just to take care of yourself. That’s another thing we sometimes forget about.

Thanks a lot. That was very comprehensive. I would just look at the comments before we move on. We have a lot of questions. I’m not sure we’re going to cover everything.  So I suggest we’re going to concentrate on our listeners’ questions tonight. Because it’s important that we are here for you tonight. Don’t hesitate to ask your questions and the things you wanted to discuss and we can always reschedule another one. It’s an important topic.

Valencia: Yes, exactly. What should we do if we are suffering from anxiety? I think it’s first and foremost, it’s good that the person is recognizing what it is that they are feeling or thinking leading to anxiety. So, some of the things which may help is to utilize relaxation techniques or grounding techniques when it comes to the feeling of anxiety because oftentimes, maybe we are forgetting to breathe, our breathing is very quick, we’re not getting enough oxygen in and with that our mind kind of becomes a bit, you know, racing with many thoughts and things like that. So, a technique is like a deep breathing technique, which may help in terms of relaxation to ground yourself. And what I mean by this is to pay attention to your breathing, to take deeper breaths, and it may even help to kind of count the breathing. So when you breathe in, it’s like counting to three, and then releasing after the count, and then counting to three again. So, sometimes this may help. Again, it’s not something that may help everybody but it is something that is used as a relaxation technique. And a few of the techniques to do with grounding is also mindfulness. I know some people use mindfulness meditation techniques as well, and that’s really something that can be helpful. Of course it takes time to practice, right? Like don’t expect mindfulness to come in like one night. It will take a lot of practice in terms of being aware of the present, like to be present with yourself. And more importantly, without the judgment, you know, maybe we feel frustrated with ourselves, why am I not able to do this. And we get frustrated with ourselves and that’s, I think mindfulness is something that needs to be practiced. And without having judgment on yourself, like maybe your mind is wandering and then you’re frustrated with yourself, why is my mind wandering but then that’s okay. You know, like try to bring it back to the present because the thing with anxiety also with that is a lot of thoughts to do with maybe the past or the future, you know, like something that’s stressed us out in the past and maybe it will do this again in the future. And this is kind of bringing it down to, to the present, to be present with yourself. Like you can do it in your daily routine, just to check in with yourself in the morning or in the evening. Even like when you’re doing your walking, your daily routine, you’re brushing your teeth just to practice that during this daily routine. Because sometimes these actions it’s so like on autopilot we just do it without even thinking about it. So when we’re doing it, we’re thinking about all these other things which may lead to anxiety and it’s just kind of bringing things back down to the present really.

I guess that’s also the same advice if you want to prevent depression, right? These kinds of techniques and mindfulness. The fact is it’s not in the middle of the storm that you learn how to swim, right? So you need to practice before.

Valencia: Yes, exactly. In terms of prevention, it’s also being able to kind of educate yourself on what, what depression is, and also taking care of your own mental health, trying to incorporate these self care routines as well which help in terms of prevention, taking care of yourself, practicing that kind of self compassion as well. You know, like treating yourself like how you would treat a friend or a loved one. And also like being aware of, you know, what are the kind of things which make you feel bad or make you feel stressed out and how to kind of cope with certain situations. Another thing is to try to increase kind of emotional resilience, to be able to cope with a stressful situation and to kind of go back to how you were like before this crisis. So having that emotional resilience is also something, which is kind of preventative as well. But then these kinds of things, it does kind of take some time to build up as well. 

We have so many things that we could explore. Furthering resilience is clearly a big topic, right? We have a question from Janelyn and I think it’s an important one for everyone. What do you do when you listen to someone’s stories and you hear both his difficulties and you get affected and you feel for them and so how can you protect yourself? 

Valencia: That’s a great question. Thank you, JaneLyn, I think you know, when we have spoken so much about how to help people and that sometimes we forget about ourselves and I think the first thing to remember is to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Right? So even before, you know, we are helping someone, we need to also make sure that we ourselves like we are okay. And that, you know, we’re taking care of ourselves like even before, during and after supporting someone emotionally. The thing with emotional support is that it is very emotional. It can be very taxing, it can be very emotionally draining. So it’s good to be aware of ourselves, you know, our emotional states, like how we’re feeling because helping others who are in distress can make us feel very worn out. You know, maybe we’re feeling very frustrated, we’re very angry. But we can be angry. We can be stressed out. And this is something that I think we do need to deal with. And in terms of, by protecting ourselves, it’s also helpful for us to to also reach out for help when we needed, you know, like to also maybe talk to someone else of course maintaining the confidentiality, the other person, but you know, like knowing that there are people around you as also, you know, sometimes for the ambassadors, for the leaders, knowing that there is support for you as well, that, you know, you are having this role to support the community, but it’s also knowing that you yourself, like you have that support too. And it’s, it’s important to deal with something like that, because if we notice that and we don’t deal with it, then it can cloud your judgment and how, how you’re dealing with people in the, in the future. Maybe like you’re getting like compassion fatigue, for example, like you’re getting quite tired. And that can also affect, you know, your ability to help others, to be empathetic, to be able to listen and respond in that way that we spoke about, you know? So again, I think the same things also apply like practicing what is good for your mental health and for your moods, like talking to someone, physical activity, maintaining a balanced routine, implementing relaxation techniques or even sometimes journaling, like writing things can help people as well. It can be cathartic. But it’s also important, I think, to know and create the boundaries. You know, like if someone is telling you something, you need to know that it’s not your responsibility to take on, on your shoulders and that there are boundaries, you know, like there are things which that person needs to be taking responsibility for, and it’s not on you to shoulder that burden. And it’s not on you to solve their problems, it’s for you to provide that support and provide some options for the person and to make sure that they’re not in like a crisis situation. So it’s also good to maintain, I think the boundary setting is very important as well. 

Well, I guess that’s always a challenge, right?. Because we all want to help so much and to recognize the moment it’s okay to say no, I think it’s a challenge for most of us. 

Valencia: Yeah, it is. And that’s very understandable. And I think it’s just very normal to feel that way, so don’t feel stressed out or feel bad that you’re feeling this way and that maybe you’re feeling a bit tired. Like that’s okay. I think emotions get the better of ourselves at times. And it’s okay to kind of just take a step back from it sometimes and seek some support yourself and then go back to it when you’re in a better kind of mindset. I think it’s important to take a break and then during that time, you can always like, that person can always be referred to someone else within the community as well. 

That’s a lot of very good advice. It’s almost 10:45 so we’re going to take maybe one more question before we wrap up.  One comment is how you can handle it if you receive bad news from your family and you’re struggling working with your own employer. 

Valencia: That’s definitely a lot that’s going on because it’s things which are happening in your personal life and also in your professional life. And I think particularly with times like this, it’s important to know what support is around you, which is why I really go back to that support. Like during these times, I think it’s really easy to feel like a person or you yourself is feeling really alone. You cannot just stop in this situation. And of course your family is back home. It’s hard to get back to them straight away, particularly with this current time with travel restrictions and everything. And there was a problem going on at home as well. So during these times, it’s good to know what support is out there in terms of like reaching out and also to be mindful of as well of like maybe the changes that you are experiencing, like maybe are you finding it difficult to work as well? Or are you just finding it difficult to maybe wake up or get out of bed? Things like that, like your daily routine, is it becoming more effortful or difficult for you to get through, maybe changes in your routine as well. And knowing that there are people within your community and also organizations of Uplifters and others which you can potentially reach out to. And sometimes I think just talking through things like knowing about maybe what kind of options you might have it’s also good to explore as well and sometimes in this situation, if you’re finding it very very difficult then seeking help is also an option as well. And I know that there is also a fear in doing that. But it’s something that I think within the community as well, we need to kind of try to normalize these conversations to talk about it a bit more and maybe clarifying some of the fear that you’re feeling like, what is it that you’re fearing and what is it that you’re scared about? And maybe it’s something that we can kind of, you know,  to help with that fear, because maybe some of it is kind of a misconception about seeking professional help as well. So yeah, it does help to kind of normalize the conversation. 

One very last question. What is a mental health crisis and what do you do if we see someone who is in a crisis? From Lovely corner. She’s just an amazing woman doing so much for the community. She is asking what do you do when someone  is hurting herself when she is angry, does she need professional help? 

Valencia: Thanks. Lovely corner. I know who you are. So yes, I think that this, this would fall under what, what would be a mental health crisis, so to speak. So the crisis is someone who is in emergency needs, for example, before I was saying, Oh, like someone is having suicidal behavior or thoughts maybe non-suicidal, self-injury like hurting themselves and things like that. So I think with self-injury or self-harm there could be many reasons why a person is doing this. And sometimes so this comes with just educating ourselves on maybe what his reasons can be. So for example, some of the common reasons might be to manage feelings of distress. Maybe it’s a way for a person. Maybe it’s a way for them to punish themselves or to communicate personal distress to others. So of course for this kind of situation, we would kind of follow the action plan that I mentioned earlier. And it’s really kind of assessing as well,  like when you see it, don’t ignore that or don’t ignore the signs, for example, if it’s cutting or if it’s bruising or burns, for example. So it’s good to assess the situation. Like if it’s a really critical situation, like it’s really needing, you know emergency services, then I think that that would be something that would need to be sought out initially,  to contact emergency services, but it’s to kind of approach the person with your concerns. I think the important thing is to be calm and to be accepting of the person and their behavior, to discuss options again which would potentially  include seeking professional help because maybe for something like this it could be something that would more likely lead to the seeking of professional help. And this comes with, you know, discussing the options or discussing alternative options you know, to find maybe healthy ways to reduce their distress. But in most cases it would be the encouragement of seeking professional help for something like this. Particularly if it’s something that is a continuing behavior but then I think first and foremost it’s just important to be there and to be having a very calm and kind of open and accepting conversation about your concerns about this, if you’re observing it.

Can you please remind us what a crisis is exactly? 

Valencia: A crisis is when someone is in need of very urgent help. So if it’s if it’s suicidal behavior or thoughts for example, maybe someone is threatening to hurt themselves or kill themselves, maybe they’re having an action plan, experience or like expressing feelings of hopelessness, maybe like having a little reason to live. Like I said earlier, self-injury as well, so harm can be a crisis situation. Maybe panic attacks can be a crisis situation as well or you know, the effects of like drug and alcohol use which can lead to a crisis situation at that point too. So these kinds of situations where there is a need for an urgent help where maybe you, you may need to consider seeking for, you know, more emergency services. This would be included as a potential crisis situation.

Thanks a lot. It’s very, very nice to have such a good view of these complicated and sensitive topics to you again. Thanks to you, we have gained much clarity about it.  I think the time has slowly come to an end. We will go back to the comments later on and try to reply to all of you. Thank you so much Valencia for your time. It was very informative, very reassuring.

Valencia: You’re so welcome. Thank you so much for inviting me. And I know there’s so many questions to answer, but I think we’ll just have to go through them slowly later.

Uplift your Night Episode #3

Here is the transcript of Uplift your Night Episode #3 on July 23rd, 2020 with Uplifters’ team leader Janelyn Dupingay to help provide advice and inspiration to our community.

Hi everyone. Thank you for joining me tonight. I am Jenely, Community Building Officer for Uplifters. Thank you so much for joining me tonight.

Uplifters is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering underprivileged communities with online education and peer support. We offer a free online money management and personal growth course for domestic workers. You just need to click “ Send Message” on our Facebook page to enrol. This is the second episode of our Uplift Your Night series, and we are delighted to be here with you tonight.

Our first objective with this Uplift Your Night Facebook Live is to be there with you. Uplifters is first and foremost a community. Secondly, we want to keep learning together and support each other.

We are pleased to have Janelyn Dupingay as our special guest tonight. Jane is one of Uplifters’ Diamond Team Leaders. She has facilitated more than ten sessions of our 3-week online course Dare to Dream on money management and personal growth. She is also one of our Social Media Correspondents in our Uplift your Life Facebook group.

Hi Jane, welcome to our live broadcast. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Hi everyone, my name is Janelyn and I came from the Philippines. I’m from the province of Nueva Vizcaya and I grew up with a very loving family. And I am an Ifugao by blood, but then I grew up in Nueva Vizcaya, so that’s why I speak Ilocano. But both my parents are from Ifugao but I can understand my parents dialect. And I came to Singapore way back 2015. April 27, to be exact. Yeah,I arrived at my EA on that day. And then my employer took me from my agency on the date of May 2. Then I joined this family, and I am with this family for more than five years now. It wasn’t difficult for me to adjust in the new environment because I have a supportive employer and they really are very understanding when it comes to my shortcomings because it is understood that when you when you arrive in a new place, there are so many things that you really need to learn, you really need to catch up, you need to learn their daily routines, the work flow. I cannot avoid that I made some mistakes during my first years here. But the good thing there is that they are very, very patient when it comes to me so that is really what I appreciate most about my employer. About my journey with Uplifters, I came to know about Uplifters from a friend. She was a Team Leader before. And her name is Isa. And I got curious, I asked her what Uplifters was about. And then she said, she just mentioned to me that it’s all about an online course. That time I was moderating in one of the biggest Facebook group here in Singapore, which is the Domestic Helpers’ forum and Marie posted about Uplifters in that forum and then I really scan really, really wanted to know what their objectives are and then I found myself clicking the Send Message. I was lucky to have a spot in October and I finished their degree in October 2018 under the team leaders Bayti and Amy. They are really very very helpful throughout the course. They are amazing. Who I am now is how they molded me as a Team Leader,  it’s a reflection of how they trained me as a student. And hopefully they are proud of me. After the Dare to Dream course, Helene asked me if I wanted to join the Become a leader course. And yeah, of course I’m very much willing to join. So I joined it and I got my certificate in December 2018. Then while doing the course I was still enrolled on Make it Happen in which I got my certificate so I became a leader. My first exposure was in January 2019 and I was paired with Melanie Villar. She was like a team leader trainee and that time there weren’t a lot of students enrolling yet compared to now that we are having 20 students before we are just having like a maximum of 10. It was really a very great journey and I am very happy to see that I am a part of how Uplifters grew and so on. I grew up with this community and I love it. Older. Yeah, as I get older in this community, I become more empowered. And even my employers say that Uplifters saved me. Although I was thinking how did Uplifters save me? But yes, because I was like I have those negative attitudes also before I joined Uplifters. I’m not very good at controlling my emotions and my temper. I was not really good at managing emotions and then eventually when I became a leader I came to understand more about how the emotions become your strength in dealing with your life so I’m very very grateful to Uplifters and that’s my journey. Then I joined the social media team. I became a social media correspondent last December 2019. Actually that time I messaged our founder Marie and asked her maybe I can give some suggestions on what Uplifters can do. I was Team Leader already and then I told her about one thing about the interview of alumni students so I said why don’t we bring those students into an interview. We do an interview to show the community that those students are having progress in their lives and that Uplifters has somehow changed them. It helped the Uplifters community and had a great impact on them. Then Marie asked me why don’t you just join social media as an associate to get more involved, and then to share whatever things that I know that can be beneficial or helpful to the community. From December 2019, I became a social media correspondent. And now I am here with you.

We have a question from the comments. How do you spend your time after work and how do you make yourself productive even when you’re tired from work?

Janelyn: How do I spend my time after work? I wake up in the morning at six o’clock and six o’clock starts my work and sometimes the earliest time that I can finish my work it depends on how fast they are in, in finishing their dinner so sometimes I can finish at around eight, so after eight so I need to freshen up also and then check messengers. Of course I check first about my family if there are some important things to tackle and then I come in

if there is a Dare to Dream class. I’m also checking but not so much during the day because I also have some limitations when it comes to using the phone during daytime so I cannot be at one corner and just look at my phone. No, no, no, I don’t do that. But when I am outside, I have a different routine each week. So for example this week I am the one who is going to bring the little girl on her outside classes so I have some more time to check on my Facebook to write. But when I dont bring the child outside I need to stay at home and manage the work because we are living here in the house. We are two helpers here. So this is a big house. So during the day, I really cannot compromise myself. I usually have during the night, but, um, from eight until like 11 that is my time to check on the community, to check on my students. I allot 20 minutes of my time during the night to read some books, especially those that I always borrow from my ma’am. And then some of my time is spent on monitoring students  if I  commit myself to become a leader during the Dare to Dream. So, because I was really loaded like there are so many commitments, sometimes I asked Helene, can I take a break for this, but it seldom happens, only when there are so many things also from work that I need to take a break to manage my time. So, I asked for a break, but I only did that I think twice. So, now I am focused on communicating with our students. And then another one is we have a group also which is the Daily life in Covid 19. I also need to monitor how the group is running because I am the admin. If I need to share my point of views also about some matters that need my opinion so yeah, I really allot 20 minutes of my time to give time for myself, to really reflect all the things that happened during the day. What am I doing? Is there any progress about myself? I know most of us are busy during the day because of work. It’s very helpful also to give a little time to check on yourself. What are you doing today? Are you sad? Are you okay? What do you need to do? I know most of us are physically tired after a long day, but then this is a different feeling. My commitments are my, like my energy booster. Yeah, connecting with the community and seeing those people, seeing those fellow women, monitoring them connecting with them. And it’s like having an attachment with them eases the tiredness from the daytime work and it’s like I admit that I’m also tired physically but then I’m just thankful that during the night I can have enough rest. Yeah, I still can manage my time to make myself productive and after my work. Do not compromise your health to do other things. You need your rest, our health is our foundation.

Your passion to help energize you and thank you for those great tips Jane, we learn a lot from you. You’re also a very talented writer. Your poems have been featured in other organizations and on our page as well. How did you start writing? Can you give us your advice to budding writers?

Janelyn: When it comes to writing because there are so many areas when you talk about poetry when you talk about writing. There are many phases of writing. For now, I am using my own strategy. If people can observe especially those who are reading my written words and those are just my own way of expressing myself so I don’t really follow the guidelines when it comes to writing because I have a limited knowledge about the different forms of poems because no matter how much I wanted to read more I am involved in other commitments. Those written poems are all my own emotions. Those are my own expressions on what I wanted to say to the community because before I write, I need to think. What is the message that I wanted to send to the people? What do I want them to know, what do I want them to feel? Do I want them to feel that they are loved? Do I want them to feel that they are beautiful? They are amazing. Before I start writing, I need to think about it. I need to think about the message that I wanted to send to the people. When did I start writing? I started writing when I became a team leader. From writing motivational pieces exclusively for my students, and sometimes I think I share that in our Uplifters community and on my Facebook also and sometimes I post some motivational pieces And it began there. But when it comes to writing poems, I started only last year. Yeah, and I think I opened during one of our lives here in Uplifters that I started writing. I wrote my first ever poem, and it’s all about my Dad and I can remember that was February 2019. My first ever poem and it talks about my feelings about the loss of my dad, about him passing away and then from that time onwards I followed a group on Facebook, which is the Migrant Writers of Singapore.

And yeah, and then I came to like, why not I go and  see what are those activities that they are doing. The first ever activity that I witnessed is a Carnival of Poetry which was headed also by Team Leader Nhelz, from that time onwards I got involved in some of their activities. I also took their photography. You walk in one of the islands here in Singapore. From that time on, I kept writing poems and then some of it also featured them, so that was the beginning of my writing journey with Migrant writers of Singapore. And now I am really totally hands on working together with them to be more engaged in activities also in our migrants in Singapore community and we have this Daily life in Covid-19 group where we also share about our literary pieces.

What I can say for those who are aspiring to be a writer. I think we are a discovery. I heard from one of my stories that there is no wrong in writing when it is written from here from the heart. I always think of this when I feel insecure or when I feel like my writing is not good. So what I wrote is not good, but no, when it comes from the heart, they will never be wrong. And one of my motto, so it’s like, I write to express. I don’t write to Impress. That is the least thing I want for my writing journey. I don’t really get flattered when people comment that you are good. So, for those of you who want to start their writing journey, you don’t need to emulate me. I want to publish my own because as you go deeper to writing then you can think about this for now, for those of you who didn’t start writing yet just get a pen and a paper, 

you write down feelings.I am angry  Because you tried to leave it like this, so I am angry. You will come to express your own self. Like not thinking about other people around or thinking that someone will like that you are not good or what, just keep on writing it keep on writing, take the pen. And if you want to further your writing skills, there are many workshops that you can join and learn more about the techniques in writing. In the Migrant Writers of Singapore also we are conducting some workshops for those who want to learn more about storytelling or writing poems. you  can try to browse on the internet, make use of your phone to search in Google. Very helpful if you really want to further your knowledge when it comes to writing in those are some ways that they can say that can be helpful for you to join the workshop to read other literary pieces if you have time. But if you find yourself to be cleared from your emotions, you can start scribbling and you can start writing. You can start journaling. Write what happened to you during the day, you will see the progress on every notebook that you write. So keep on writing. And write from the heart. 

These have been very trying times for all of us. What is your advice to those who are struggling? 

Jane – If any of you who are watching right now who are suffering, you don’t need to suffer in silence. That’s all I can say, you don’t need to suffer in silence, you don’t need to keep to yourself because you have a community with you, you have people around you. All you have to do is to reach out to the people who can help you with your situation, with your struggle. No one will know that you are suffering unless you let it out. Before I saw it when I was a moderator in the forum, so many who suffer from different working conditions, we always advise them to speak up no matter if it’s not easy.  Because you will not gonna be able to get any help from other people if you don’t communicate, if you don’t try to find a way to express yourself, that you are not feeling good, you don’t need to suffer in silence and torture your mind. Especially now we’re all in a very difficult situation, when you have a way and you just only need to speak up. It really helps to connect with other people. Sometimes when you are having a problem and you’re talking to someone you can trust, sometimes talking to a stranger, it gives you more peace of mind. Because there are some women in the community who come to my messenger asking for some advice, especially for very difficult situations. For example, one of our sisters, she has been working with her employer and she has so many things in her mind, like not liking the rules, she thinks it’s too much. But just by telling me her condition, I told her she needs to tell this to the person to say her honest situation. You don’t need to deny or lie about it. It will lead you to heavier situations if you lie. You just need to be honest with people because they can advise you. They can give you the proper advice when you are honest. 

Going back to that woman, I told her that I can contact my family. Did you try to talk to your employer about it? It doesn’t make you less when you calm yourself in talking to other people. Just speaking calmly does make a lot of difference. So that’s why I advise you to be honest. You need to try to communicate first rather than poisoning your mind of probable scenarios. And with your situation there are a lot of people who can help you. You can private message me, the admins, the community. Because our Uplifters community has a lot of contacts to experts who can help a lot. 

How can we develop resilience and optimism?

Janelyn:  Before I was a low self esteemed person. When I experienced challenges, I just ran, cried. But now instead of crying, I think what have i done? Instead of crying, I think of ways to develop resilience. You can start by thinking about challenges. If you are taking all those challenges especially when you fail to achieve expectations and goals. Don’t take it against yourself. It’s like a learning stage for you. That sometimes we fail but then if you are also constantly thinking that you are not good, that you are a failure. You’re making yourself more down. It will be more difficult for you to lift yourself, because you are making it harder on yourself. Accept it. No matter how hard. What can you do to get up from it? It’s making it hard for us because we’re making it hard for ourselves. Just because we weren’t able to achieve what we were aiming for. What I learned is that you yourself can uplift yourself. Remember you are special in your own way. You need to think positively about yourself. Irregardless of the mistakes you’ve committed. Nobody’s perfect. 

Find a reason to get out of the bed, to face reality. That reason will be the thing that drives you, no matter what. For example, if you are lazy, overweight, you convince yourself to lift yourself up no matter how hard it is for you, that dream, that goal will keep you motivated. Just like the story of Mona in Uplifters, It somehow resonates with that same spectrum. You have to set your goal. You should picture yourself living what you want to live in the future. Those things in your mind will keep you going. Don’t stress yourself about something that is uncontrollable. Just like now, with everything that’s happening, it’s out of our control but we can control our mind, you accept things. There’s no need for you to exert any effort or waste your energy in something uncontrollable. Focus your energy on something you can control. Managing your emotions, your money, something like that. Those are just some basic tips on how you can develop resilience. Being positive is a choice. It is your choice. 

Let’s talk about your favorite book. Could you tell us the book that made a positive impact on you?

Janelyn:  It’s actually the first Psychology book I’ve ever read. I borrowed it. The title is “Emotional Clearing” by John Ruskan. Because I’m the type of person that believes that emotion is one of the strong foundations to reach greater heights, to be more successful. To have stable emotions, not being impulsive in making your decisions. I want to share a part of it and it’s all about acceptance and I always share this to everyone I encounter with. It’s somehow related to our Dare to dream story. The “Maria Story” who keeps on resisting everything that’s happening. Keeps on running away and nothing happens. Nothing will happen to you in your life, you won’t be able to move on with your life if you keep on hiding from those emotions. It is really hard. Easier said than done. But if you start accepting it, you will learn that it is a part of your journey and how to live your life. I suddenly remember a poem as it also talks about acceptance. Be a good guest to those emotions who want to visit you. You need to deal with it, acknowledge them, because if you don’t it will always come back. You might think that it’s nothing but no, you need to accept and heal from those emotions. For you to know the solutions by finding what are the causes of those emotions. Finding the things that get you upset, angry etc. You will be able to deal with it properly if you know the source. There is always a reason what’s causing those emotions. 

What’s your favorite challenge in our Dare to Dream course?

Jane – It’s all about the dreamboard. Really enjoyed making it and found it challenging as well. From the moment I started making it, I was able to really visualize the things that I want to achieve in my life. From living my life since I started working here in Singapore, there has not been much improvement. But when I started creating my dreamboard, it impacted me a lot. I began to dream, I started to have a clearer vision of everything that I want to achieve for myself and my family. When I began it back in 2018, the first thing I had there was all about having my dream house, savings, insurance and all those things. The challenge there is how to apply it in reality. It took me a year to achieve all of it. Insurance for me and my family, now just waiting for some confirmations from my brother so we can start on building our house. Achieved savings. Last January I started with my new dream board and sharing it with my students and put there completing my caregiving course. The second thing is still about my house and one is about being a motivational speaker. All the classes right now are suspended due to the pandemic. We need to be flexible and adapt, so I enrolled in baking and sewing classes to keep me busy and productive. And now I am kinda achieving to be a motivational speaker by speaking here, and at least try to motivate and share my experiences and lessons I learned in my life. It also brings out more self confidence. 

What is your advice to our community?

Janelyn: I will start with the first advice that I also give to everyone else, no matter how difficult the situation is you have to find a good thing out of that difficult situation, as it will keep you going. There is always something positive in any difficult situation we’re in. 

The next thing is believe in yourself, before other people will believe in you, you must believe in yourself first. You are extraordinary. You need to give yourself that affirmation that you are beautiful, special, you have the power to change yourself. Don’t put any limit to what you can achieve. Keep on trying even when you fail, you need to find ways to achieve your goals. Believe in yourself. Never stop trying. Experience life and make every moment count. You need to make your everyday worthwhile. Set and reach your goals. Visualize it for it to guide you. Lastly, be happy! Because no one deserves to be less happy. We all deserve happiness. Stay happy, stay positive and enjoy life.