“A journey of a thousand miles between with a single step.”

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

Liezel Fernandez Marcos is one of the graduates of our May 2020 batch. She is from the Philippines and a proud mother to two children. Before coming to Hong Kong, she worked in a daycare centre in her hometown. She loves children and enjoyed teaching.

Read more about her in this interview.

What prompted you to join the course?

I was scrolling on Facebook when I read about Uplifters. I was interested in their free online class and sent a message to sign up.

Why did you join?

I felt so down and depressed. I have no savings in my account. I carried so much burden in my life. I wanted a change so I enrolled in Uplifters’ 3-week online class about money management and personal growth.

How do you feel now?

I feel better and wiser. Dare to Dream challenged me and changed my mindset on personal growth and managing my money wisely. I am more confident now. New doors are opening for me to grow. One is the Horizons Facebook group which helps me to bring back my love for writing poems. Uplifters’ team leader Ody Munson inspired and motivated me a lot. My fellow Uplifters’ alumni Naicy Wordstring invited me to participate in a Facebook group called Daily Life in Covid-19 and I’m so grateful to accept this. It’s a community of migrant workers where we share our thoughts and activities during Covid-19. I have also started reading uplifting books instead of sitting down and thinking about my problems. I watch videos of motivational speaker Jay Shetty which helps motivate me. I attend church regularly to nourish my spiritual needs.

How are you going to make sure to put into practice what you just learned?

I have a notebook where I write all the lessons I have learned. I am making a budget so that I can monitor and keep track of where my salary goes. I posted my dream board on my wall to keep me motivated. I am practising the morning and evening rituals to start and end my day on a positive note.

What is your message for fellow migrant domestic workers who hesitate to join?

For my fellow migrant workers, just give it a try. Join Uplifters and enrol in our free online class. You don’t need to pay anything so grab this opportunity to use your free time to study. I assure you that you will fall in love with this course. It’s a big help not only to yourself but also to your whole family. I am so grateful I found a family-like Uplifters. I have invited my friends to join so that they too can benefit from the course. I would like to share my favourite quote with all of you. “A journey of a thousand miles between with a single step.”

“Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.

We are happy to feature Eden Hontucan, Uplifters alumni. She is a Filipina working as a domestic worker in Singapore. She finished the courses Dare to Dream in September 2019 and Make it Happen in February 2020.

“I was a volunteer at the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI) in Singapore when my friend recommended Uplifters to me. I joined because I was curious and wanted to know how online learning works. I love that it is flexible and there is no need to go to a class. It has contributed to who I am now.

Uplifters helped me improve my personality. I learned to become positive and motivated, to have a proper plan and make my dreams come true. Before taking the course, I made plans for the future but I did not make a monthly budget. I wanted to learn how to make one but it never crossed my mind. But now, I learned how to monitor my expenses and I know how important it is to have an emergency fund that we can use in times of crisis. Most importantly I learned the value of self-discipline and saving for the future while I am still working abroad. Self-discipline is necessary so that I can avoid the temptation to buy unnecessary things.

Taking care of oneself is important. Uplifters taught me that I should find ways to improve and take care of myself. I am a person who is eager to learn. I took several skills-training courses, as I wanted to make my days off productive. The courses have equipped me with skills that can help me start my own business. The first training that I took was an International Cooking Cuisine at Felodep Singapore. I also took courses in basic computer skills, dressmaking and advanced business craft at Trinity Church, where I was awarded as one of the best students.

To all my fellow domestic workers, I highly recommend the courses at Uplifters. They will help you become motivated to reach your dreams in life and develop yourself. We all know that we cannot work overseas for the rest of our lives. We can make our dreams come true if we know how to plan well and follow the lessons we learned to succeed in the future.

Thank you Uplifters for nurturing me and moulding me into a better person. I have no worries if I go home. The knowledge that I learned will be my foundation to succeed in life. I would like to share my favourite quote with all of you. “Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.” 

“Be strong and resilient like the coconut tree.”

Achievement unlocked.” This is one of the favourite phrases from Fidelisa Sarol Delima, an Uplifters’ alumni and a mother to four sons. She has been working in Hong Kong for the past eight years.

“Growing up in a poor family, I thought it was impossible for me to achieve my dreams. I wanted to finish my studies but I was not able to do so due to our circumstances. I decided to work abroad to provide a better future for my children. As a mother, my focus was only on my family, I have always put myself last. I felt empty inside and I didn’t have a clear direction in life. My attitude was always to go with the flow. I was content with sending money to my family back home, helping my siblings and paying for my children’s school fees.

Lisa’s dream house in Cebu, Philippines

Uplifters changed my life. The Dare to Dream course enlightened me and made me realize the value of taking care of myself. I am happier now because I learned that by looking after myself, I am helping myself and others as well. I learned how to budget and save money. I started to think about my goals and made plans on how I can achieve them. I studied every lesson in the course and applied it in my daily life. As a result, I was able to build a dream house in the Philippines. I am also grateful to have loving and responsible children. Three of them have already graduated from college.

Now I’m taking care of myself by learning new things and adding to my skills and knowledge. I love studying. I took caregiving, cooking and first aid courses. I have recently started taking guitar lessons too.

My advice to my fellow migrant domestic workers is to be strong like the coconut tree, in spite of the difficulties you may face in life. Never stop learning. Never stop dreaming.”

“Take action if you want real change in your life.”

Meet Willa Mae Erejer Arbon, Uplifters’ alumni and social media correspondent. She has been working in Hong Kong for the past six years. In her free time, she loves cooking, hiking and watching motivational videos.

“I joined Dare to Dream because I wanted to change. I wanted to improve my physical and mental health. I wanted to educate myself about money management and personal development.

Uplifters changed how I manage money. One of the best things I learned from the course is to always have a plan. I was impulsive and always acted without a plan. Now I’m a person with a clear purpose and a direction on how I can make my dreams come true.

The courses helped me in my personal growth journey. It gave me the answers to all the questions I have asked myself. I used to be disorganized, too soft and understanding, bashful and fearful of so many things.

I feel so proud of who I am now. I found myself. I am happy, positive, productive and motivated. I have managed to overcome my negative thoughts and conquer my weaknesses.

If I had to pick an image to illustrate my life before and after Uplifters, I will say that now I am like a bamboo tree. Flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking. Like bamboo, I am resilient. I can bounce back even from the most difficult times.

My dream for the future is to own a restaurant to feed thousands of people. To live in another country with my children and to start a new life with them. I’ve always dreamed of raising my kids while working. Raising them in the way I want them to become. I also dream to help people who are in need. I want to help my family, especially my siblings and help other people who are in need.

My advice to women is to stop asking yourself why and blaming someone else. Take action if you want real change in your life.“

“Dream more and never give up. Do not stop learning.”

Meet Uplifters’ alumni, Lynn Lavilla. She is from Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental in Mindanao, Philippines. She has three beautiful daughters ages 25, 23 and 19.

“I decided to take the Dare to Dream course out of curiosity and to pass the time. But in the middle of the course, I realized that it would help me a lot. I was amazed by the lessons they taught me about handling family problems, making friends, how to gain confidence and most especially, about managing money and making a budget. The course made a big impact in my life. Previously I would buy anything that I wanted because I thought it would make me feel better about myself. I used to give everything to my family to make them happy. After the course, I realized the value of taking care of myself and saving for my future.

My life greatly improved after Uplifters. We have put up a “sari-sari store” business. We also breed chickens for egg production and sell animal feeds. Having our own business was our lifelong dream. We thought that we couldn’t do it but we were able to do so. We plan to buy a lot so that we can turn into a farm next year.

We are a very close and fun-loving family. We are a team and with God’s guidance we can accomplish more. My two daughters have already graduated from college and they now have stable jobs. I am so proud of them. With the help of Uplifters’ team leaders, mentors, my husband and my children, our lifestyle changed and my dreams are coming true.

My advice to my fellow migrant domestic workers is to never forget where you came from. Dream more and never give up. Do not stop learning. Seize every opportunity to widen your knowledge. In Uplifters your life will become better if you will use and apply what you have learned. Thank you so much Uplifters.

“I am proud to be part of this community because I grow and learn so much.”

We are proud to feature one of Uplifters’ amazing Diamond Team Leaders, Attala Zakia. 

She is from Central Java, Indonesia. She is 28 years old and has been working in Singapore for five years.

Our Diamond Team Leaders have facilitated 10 sessions of our 3-week online course Dare to Dream on money management and personal growth.

Read more about her in this excerpt from our interview:

“My name is Nur Bayti. I am a single mother of a lovely 7-year-old daughter. I have decided to work abroad because I wanted to give a better future for my daughter. I am the 3rd child and the only girl among four siblings. My father passed away one year ago. I was very sad because I did not see him during the last days of his life but I have to be strong for my daughter and my mother. I need to keep going for them. I’m the only one they depend on right now. That’s why I have to keep myself healthy so I can always support them.

My first employer treated me badly. They punished me for the smallest things. If they were angry at me, they would ask me to stand for two hours and face the wall, even if it was already very late. I went to bed late and woke up very early. I was not allowed to have a phone or take a day off. They did not allow me to talk to other people, especially other domestic workers. Because I did not know how to speak English properly, I was not able to speak up and communicate with them. I asked them to send me back to the agency after a year of working for them because I couldn’t take it anymore. They sent me back home instead.

My situation changed when I worked for my second employer in Singapore. They were very nice to me and they treated me like I was part of their family. They allowed me to take courses to improve myself. I stayed with them for three years and left when their kids went to university.

Then, I went to another employer who is also very nice. They allow me to have the freedom to do as I please, especially baking and cooking because they know that it is my passion. They encourage me to do the things I love. I feel so blessed to have them.

On my day off, I explore Singapore with my best friend, call my daughter and mother, and am involved in a dragon boat team. I also take the time to learn new things. I joined Aidha to improve my English and learn about money management. I joined the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) to learn about baking and cooking. I also joined Uplifters. Uplifters changed my life in so many positive ways. I invited my close friend to join Uplifters and they were very happy and excited about it. We have encouraged and motivated each other. After we finished Dare to Dream and received our certificates we decided to meet. I was so happy to meet them in person rather than just chat with them online. They are my family here and we are very close to each other. We all decided to become team leaders so that we can share the knowledge that we learned with other women. Being a team leader helped me to grow. I learned about teamwork and how to practice selflessness. We must show up for others to support and guide them. You have to be a role model for your team. There is no boss and subordinate. Everyone works together. I am proud to be part of this community because I grow and learn so much. My English has improved a lot too. I am grateful for Marie [Uplifters Founder and CEO] because she never sees us as someone different. She treats everyone the same way. I am glad that Uplifters is growing and I will always support Uplifters because I love this community.

My biggest dream is to have my own restaurant as I love cooking and baking. I know it is not easy but I believe that I will make it happen one day. I would also like to renovate my house back home. I keep track of my expenses to increase my savings. If I have my own business I don’t have to worry about my daughter’s future. I want to be an independent woman for her. For all my fellow migrant domestic workers, never look down on yourself. We are all human beings. Keep going until you reach your goals. I would like to share my motto in life. Keep going to reach your dreams, if you stop now you are nothing. If you keep going until the end you are something. Be strong for your loved ones and always remember your reason for working abroad.” 

Seize every opportunity to learn new things and improve yourself.

We turn the spotlight on Dena Lorenzana, one of Uplifters’ Diamond Team Leaders.  Our Diamond Team Leaders have facilitated 10 sessions of our 3-week online course Dare to Dream on money management and personal growth.

Dena is from Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines. She has three children ages 36, 35 and 33. She has been working in Singapore for 30 years.

“I left home at a young age to move to Manila to study because we did not have enough money, I became a working student. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish my studies because of financial difficulties. In 1990, I moved to Singapore so I could send my children to school and provide a better life for them.”

Her work did not stop her from pursuing education, something that she is proud to have inculcated in her children.

“I’ve always been passionate about studying. I am always looking for courses that can help me develop and upgrade my skills. In my spare time, I love volunteering as a student supervisor at Soha Institute where I help organize CPR and First Aid lessons conducted by the Singapore Defence Force. I also volunteer as a nursing aide at a nursing home in Singapore for eight hours on Sundays. I wanted to become a nurse when I was young. I like learning about therapy, health, and taking care of the elderly. My friends say that I could have been a good doctor or nurse. I am very proud of myself when I got my diploma from an online course in London in March 2017. I know that it brought my father so much joy to see his daughter get a diploma. To this day, I feel that he has waited for my good news before he passed away a few days after I completed the course.”

It was not easy working abroad. When I first moved to Singapore, I felt very homesick. I’ve missed my children very much. There were no smartphones when I moved away and I wasn’t able to chat or video call. I remember feeling sad as I waited for the postman to arrive and got fewer mails as the years went by. During my first few years here, I became sick and realized that it is one of the hardest parts of working abroad. Getting sick alone with no relatives to help you was hard. What was harder for me, was when my employment agency got mad at me and belittled me. But I did not give up and I stayed positive and prayed a lot. I am grateful to have a kind and considerate employer who treats me like a family member. I’ve been with them for 20 years. Their children, whose ages are 20, 18 and 14 years old, grew up in my care and are very close to me.

Unfortunately, I have met people who took advantage of me and told me lies so I would apply for a loan to lend them money. It was a sad experience for me because I ended up paying the loan out of my own salary. I am very happy I found Uplifters because the course helped me to focus on myself and to handle money well. It taught me how to say no to family and friends and to save money and plan for the future. As a team leader, I am happy whenever I see my students’ eagerness to learn and when they get their certificates, I feel that it is also my accomplishment. I am grateful to have the opportunity to impart knowledge to my students of all the lessons I have learned. I advise my students to not immediately believe when friends or relatives borrow money from you. Most importantly, save money and have a plan about how long you want to work abroad. Seize every opportunity to learn new things and improve yourself. 

I am proud to say that I have sufficient savings for my retirement. My dream is to own a training centre in the Philippines to help migrant workers like me, especially those who are going to work abroad for the first time. I want to train people to have their own sources of livelihood like farming and baking so that they do not have to leave and work in another country.” 

Template for Hygiene Guideline

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“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

Meet Siti Mujiati, one of our fantastic Diamond Team Leaders. She is from Indonesia and has two beautiful daughters. She has been working in Singapore since 2012.

“I have lived away from my family since I was 15 years old. I left home and went to the city to study and work for many years and only went home once a year. Whenever I am feeling low, I pray, sometimes, I pray until I cry. I always try to count my blessings while I am reciting the Quran. When I first came to Singapore, I struggled with the language barrier. But through the help of my employer I was able to improve my English after one year. The other challenge I have faced, was how to manage my stress as I did not have much freedom at that time. When I first started with my employer, I was only able to speak to my family for ten to fifteen minutes once a month. I wasn’t able to talk to strangers, only my employer’s family. I had to cut my hair very short and wear a uniform. I had to agree to pay for everything that I broke, burned or lost. I was in great stress. I couldn’t even keep my diary and my daughter’s photo. This happened for two years. As a positive person, I tried to pray, even if it was only in my heart because they didn’t allow me to. One day, I asked if I could have a pen and a book so that I could write my thoughts and feelings to release my stress. I am glad that I was brave enough to do so because that pen and book was my saviour. After two years, they loosened the rules a bit and life became more bearable. I was finally able to have my phone on the weekends and could wear nice clothes when I went out. I was able to grow my hair down to shoulder length. I appreciated my employers of six years for patiently teaching me how to work properly and not just sending me back to the agency. As my way of paying back their kindness despite everything, I stayed for six years with a different arrangement. They agreed to let me have a phone every day and take my half-day off every two weeks. They asked me to stay longer and even offered me a much higher salary but it was time for me to think about myself and I chose to leave. I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to handle my anger anymore as Grandma, my employer, was not easy to handle. Finally, they let me go. It was a win-win situation.

On my days off, I always spend my time going to school and to learn a new skill or going to an event or free seminar for domestic workers. I love volunteering for the Centre for Domestic Employees. I love spending a few hours there just to listen to the stories from friends who are facing problems. I give some advice if they need it because sometimes they just need a listening ear. I don’t feel alone whenever I speak to them and I am happy every time I hear them say, ‘Thank you, I feel better now.’ Thanks to Uplifters. I learned how to be an active listener.

Before I joined Uplifters, I did not have any plans. I did not know what my goals and dreams were. I often hesitated planning before but now I am always filled with enthusiasm and optimism. I am equipped with better financial planning and management skills after the ‘Dare to Dream’ course. I enjoy being a team leader because I can keep in touch with wonderful people from the Uplifters team. It’s a positive community where we can share our passions and dreams. I can continue studying all the lessons from our course and share what I have learned to my students. I am happy when I see them managing their budget and becoming a happier person just like me. I want all foreign domestic workers to gain knowledge and feel happy the way I do after joining Uplifters.

My dream is to have my own hydroponic farm so I can provide fresh and healthy vegetables for my neighbourhood. I like it because I won’t need a lot of land for that and I won’t worry about dirt or heat from the sun. I want to encourage the young generation in my hometown about urban farming. I am visualizing a nice farm that would be a great place to take pictures for Instagram, with the green leaves, the sound of the water flowing from pipe to pipe. If my farm goes well, I will open a small garden library cafe by the side. My farm will be next to my parent’s house and they will be able to spend the rest of their lives with a beautiful view and fresh air.

To my fellow domestic workers, your life is not going to end here as a helper, get up and look at the mirror and say this out loud ‘I am amazing, I am beautiful and unbreakable. I can achieve my dreams.’ Be happy and work wholeheartedly, communicate your feelings and dreams with your employer, friends and family. Don’t keep your sadness and difficulties inside your heart. Listen to music or watch a funny video. Exercise, cook, bake, hike. Take a selfie, do whatever you love. Let’s pursue our dreams with a smile and with great planning and reasonable budgeting. Manage our life like a businesswoman. Let’s be grateful for every blessing that we have.

I would like to share my favorite quotation from Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ This quote keeps me unbreakable.

Antivirus Episode #10

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

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. This is the tenth episode of our Antivirus series and we are very happy to be here with you tonight.

Our objective with this Antivirus Video Live is first to reply to your questions if we can or collect them and consult with professionals afterwards so we can answer them later. Secondly, we just want to be there with you. Uplifters is first and foremost a community and we will go through these difficult times with you.

Our guest for tonight is Evelyn Obillo. She has been working as a domestic worker in Singapore for 18 years. She has been volunteering for a long time at the Centre for Domestic Employees – CDE. She is also our most committed team leader at Uplifters and has facilitated 17 batches in our monthly online class Dare to Dream out of the 20 we have organised since our creation! She has helped so many women with her guidance and advice. Her dedication to helping fellow domestic workers is truly admirable.

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

Question: These are very challenging times in Singapore. The circuit breaker measures which was meant to last until May 4 was extended until June 1. Can you give us updates on these measures?

Evelyn: Yes, indeed. It was supposed to end on May 4 but then it got extended for another month, but it will finally end on the first of June, on Monday and it will reopen in three phases. First phase, they call it “Safe Reopening” in which some businesses will reopen with measures in place of course. Second phase is called “Safe Transition” and the third one they call it “The New Normal”. But as for now, if Covid-19 should remain low and stable, the government will decide by the middle of June if they will do phase two instead at the end of July.

Question: What is the situation and current challenges of migrant domestic workers in Singapore?

Evelyn: Currently the situation in Singapore is stabilizing although the number of cases, 30,000 is quite high but it’s contained. Majority are in the dormitories. Community transmission is actually very low. As far as FDW is concerned, this is pretty challenging for us. It’s too much work. The top on the list of the challenges that we are facing right now is too much work and we don’t feel safe.
We are physically, emotionally and mentally drained right now. Social distancing measures in place, you can’t see a friend whatever and some cannot even go out. Of course we have to keep our spirits up. Let us pray and hope that the situation will be over soon.

Question: Can you give us some specific examples of these challenges?

Evelyn: Physically, because everyone is staying home especially when there are children. Mentally we crave for physical interaction. When you are cooped up at home for two months and you can’t see anybody. Yes, we can talk over the phone, but it’s still different when you at least have some time to go for a walk or have some meal together away from work at least once a week, then it will recharge the energy and keep us going.

Question: Can you give us tips or advice on how we can cope with these challenges?

Evelyn: At this point in time, there’s not much we can do, because as we need a job we can’t afford to lose our job, we have to stay. So you still have enough food at the end of the month, you get your salary. We just have to be patient and we need to be positive and think that this is not gonna last forever. So just keep it together, we will get through this storm together.

Question: Can you tell us more about the work that you’re doing for CDE?

Evelyn: As volunteers, we are the network on the ground. So as a volunteer for CDE, I take it as my responsibility to keep my eyes and ears on the ground around the Filipino community. I make sure to be more aware of what’s going on around me. Usually, I just give advice and encourage my fellow workers to speak up. It’s like in our Uplifters class, to encourage them to speak up, to join this kind of thing where many are shy or scared of losing their jobs. So I encourage them that when they are getting treated improperly or when their rights are being violated, they have to speak up, otherwise, nothing’s gonna change. You can’t suffer in silence, you have to speak up to improve your condition. It is really a big challenge for me to convince them to reach out, to call the proper authorities because they’re scared and they don’t want to lose their jobs. But then of course we can only do so much. For serious cases, normally I would contact the CDE staff directly.

Question: How long have you been volunteering at CDE?

Evelyn: Almost two years actually. CDE is only around 4 years, and I’ve only come to know them when they opened their satellite office at Lucky Plaza, that’s when I joined them. I didn’t know them before, but I knew other NGOs but I am not an outgoing person. I’m a diamond volunteer already.

Question: Has it always been a passion for you? Helping people, cheering people on.

Evelyn: Yes, because if I can pull someone up, I know the feeling of being away from your family and you don’t have anyone to talk to. Now that I have the chance, I give it back to the community, If I can help someone go through a day or a few days or at least finish their contract just by listening to me, ranting to me until they finish their contract and then they’ll be fine, that’s more than enough for me. It’s very fulfilling.

Question: Do you have more calls since the circuit breaker started?

Evelyn: Actually we don’t pick up calls during working hours. This is my strict policy. So every time I get a call, I will message them “no calls please, if there’s anything urgent let me know, so I can call you back when I have the time”. Calls, actually not that much, but messages, I’m getting more than double about their issues with regards to Covid19. We’re getting more messages so my phone is always burning hot.

Question: What are the most common questions you get these days?

Evelyn: You know the challenges we face is too much work, so that’s why many just feel like throwing the towel and want to transfer. So the first thing they ask, “I’m too tired, I don’t think I can carry on, is it possible to transfer right now?” And some are worried about their families back home and just want to fly out. Sometimes when you have fear about your family and you miss them, or you’re worried about them, you just want to fly out. But as you know with the travel ban and all, I tell them to calm down, whatever you’re feeling right now, you’re stressed, you fear about yourself, about your family, but everybody’s going through this same, you have to calm down yourself so you can think better. So those are the things, either wanting to go home or wanting to transfer. Which is very challenging right now because the IPA approval is limited to local employers with young children and elderly. So if the employer who wants to hire you are expats, the chances are very limited, very slim chance. There are ladies who are in the agencies for months, the application keeps getting denied. So it really depends on your luck. That’s why I always tell them, currently, they only want to approve only local employers with young children or elderly, so are you willing to accept it? Why in the first place are you leaving your job? Is it because you’re looking after children or elderly? Then there will be no change, you have to think about it. If you’re not being starved or being abused, you have to reconsider at least after the circuit breaker is lifted. There are a lot of delays in applications and also being denied. Some can handle it well, their minds are stronger than others, some really get persuaded by their emotion easily, they get depressed, that they cannot go out and socialize, not even realizing that they are already have neglected their jobs, their temper becomes shorter, so they think that by transferring it will solve their problem or by going home the problem will end. But then it’s not, it may actually be the start of a new problem, you will transfer, what if you can’t get a new employer? You’ll get stuck in the agency, can you afford not to have a job? What if the family is waiting for you to send some money home? So if it’s still tolerable, I tell them to stay put for now. So it’s more emotional because when you are tired physically, you just rest then you’ll be fine. But if it’s emotional, or your mental well being is being challenged, how to keep yourself sane in this situation where can’t take a day off, can’t even go out for a walk and get some fresh air, really you’re gonna go mad definitely.

Question: We have a question from Ayda. Can you give us some advice on how to finish our Dare to dream course smoothly? And how do you manage your time between Uplifters and CDE as well?

Evelyn: For me as a team leader, how to encourage, the first week, everybody is excited, I’ve noticed that the first few days, everyone’s sharing and all, but once we started with the challenges or when it becomes more challenging and they feel like they’re tired or they seem to lack the time, as a team leader I will personally tell them that if you stop then nothing’s gonna happen. You have to have a positive mindset, you have to keep positive, that this is for you and not for us, we are trying to help you uplift yourself and upgrade not just to be money smart but for your well being as well. This is where the affirmation comes in, you have to tell yourself that “I am doing this for myself and I can do this!” So that’s why I encourage them even if it’s slow, never quit because if you quit then it’s over. Baby steps, one at a time and in the end you will be proud of yourself when you reach the finish line. The joy of accomplishing something is really a good thing, we can only encourage but as a team leader, we need to spend time with them, be with them because when they know we are there for them, it will only encourage them more to participate and carry on. That’s why I prefer the group chat class, so I can interact with them and learn from each other.

Question: Can you give us tips on how to adjust to sudden changes, of not being able to do the things that we love?

Evelyn: For me, I always tell everyone that we need to be flexible, we need to learn to adapt. When a situation changes, you need to be like bamboo. You can’t be like a tree, that when the wind comes you say “No! I’m stronger than the wind.” It can’t be like that, we need to be like bamboo. When the strong wind comes, we need to bend, we need to adapt to the given situation, like right now, the circuit breaker, what can we do? We can’t do anything, I always tell them before you make a decision, “Oh I’m so tired”, almost everyday I always hear that, how exhausted they are, it’s depressing. Those thoughts, it’s very negative and if you start your day with that negative thought, definitely your whole day will surely be negative. But when you start your day, “Oh it’s another day less from the circuit breaker we’re almost there, let’s hope and pray this thing will be over. We need to be flexible, before anything else we have to think “I am so tired but if I go home, would I be able to afford to lose my job?” If you can’t, then you have to be more patient and bear in mind this is temporary. This is not gonna last forever, you just need to be stronger, more patient and flexible because there’s nothing much we can do, the only option for us is to stay and wait. We can’t do this situation if we are emotionally drained, depressed, you have to look at the bigger picture and not just think about yourself but also your family. To provide for them is the main reason why we left them in the first place. If you give up then it’s over, your life here can be over, you may have dragged yourself and your family as well.

Question: How do you manage your time for your work, being a team leader and a volunteer at CDE? Hats off to you!

Evelyn: We teach money management here at Uplifters, but at the same time we can also apply that in managing our time. For me, volunteering at CDE, my commitment to Uplifters, they are on top of my priority so that’s why I have a notebook, checking my to-do list, the night before I already plan it. So if you are committed to something you will definitely find the time. It will be difficult but it’s all in a positive mindset, your passion and setting your priorities straight. Of course, my job is my number one priority, I’m just lucky because I have less work so I have more time.

Question: We have a question from Syafira. Does CDE also handle OFWs who get verbal abuse from employers, do they have psychologists for them?

Evelyn: Verbal abuse is a very broad topic. So if you feel threatened, definitely we encourage them to contact the police. Examples would be the employers saying I’m gonna kill you or something. For those asking me about this issue, I tell them to contact the CDE staff or send a message to them directly because they can handle it better being professionals. They have psychologists, great counseling, they have those professionals that can help in this field.

Question: We have a question from Janelyn. May I just ask during the circuit breaker, what is the toughest situation you’ve dealt with so far and what is the advice you’ve given?

Evelyn: For me is to convince them to talk to their employers in situations of no day off, extra work but no pay. How to talk to the employers? Some are almost being locked in the house. So I tell them to talk to them one more time, explain to them the situation, they can read the news, they know what’s happening in the Philippines, appeal to their good side, otherwise you can contact CDE or other NGOs or MO.M. Because it is not fair. Especially if it is a necessary errand that we need to do and they won’t allow us to do so. They need to be human at least, because if you bluntly say no to us then how do they think we would feel? We’re not gonna want to work. Not everybody has the guts to talk so I have to tell them you have to think, you need to help yourself, because if you can’t then I also can’t help you, no one can help you. You have only yourself to count on. Or at least be brave, to take the risk, whether they deny your request or whatever the consequence might be, at least you tried instead of suffering in silence. So that’s the biggest challenge for me is convincing them. Some employers might not care but most of them do. Appeal to their good heart. I don’t believe that there are people who are totally heartless.

Question: Do you have any general advice to domestic workers to make their migration successful?

Evelyn: Going abroad and leaving your family behind can be pretty challenging. Of course it can really be heartbreaking especially for me personally. I have four children, but I think if you have the right mindset, this is the number one priority and what I always tell them, not just the positive mindset but the right mindset. Whether you’re in Hong, Singapore, Malaysia or anywhere else in the world, remember it’s all different compared to our country. We shouldn’t be expecting things to remain the same or have the same expectations we have when we are in our home. Having the right mindset means we must learn to adapt, learn to be flexible, and we need to stay focused on our goal. Why did we leave our family? It’s to give them a better life. Stay on that. Of course even if we stay positive we will face a lot of obstacles and challenges but we still have to remain positive as whatever it is you’re facing it will not last. As what I always say to my students “Tough situations never last, tough people do.” So you just have to toughen up and you’ll definitely succeed. If we have the right mindset and positive attitude, being flexible and focused enough to your goal, only then we can make our migration successful.