How to Spot Fake News

I just loved this cartoon on how to spot fake news by NPR, so I am sharing it here with you!

Viral rumors tend to spike during large news events. According to the National Public Radio or NPR, these rumors or fake news are usually driven by self-interest, malicious intent, financial gain or genuine altruism. We need to do our part in preventing the spread of misinformation right now!

☑️ Exercise skepticism. Investigate. Do a fact check or ask for the source.If the information is false, let others know. If you’re not sure, don’t share it – break the chain!

☑️ Understand the misinformation landscape.Social media platforms have no financial obligation to tell the truth. If you need a fact check, look at credible sources such as the World Health Organization or CNN.

☑️ Be extra careful when you encounter emotional, divisive or breaking news stories. That’s when misinformation is most common and effective.

Source: NPR or National Public Radio is an independent, nonprofit media organization that was founded on a mission to create a more informed public. https://www.npr.org/2020/04/17/837202898/comic-fake-news-can-be-deadly-heres-how-to-spot-it

Antivirus #3

Here is the transcript of our Facebook Live on Thursday 9th April to help our community of migrant domestic workers go through COVID-19 challenges.

Hi everyone,
I am Marie, Uplifters Founder and CEO. Here is Jenely, the Uplifters Community Building Officer.
Uplifters is a non profit organization dedicated to empowering underprivileged communities with online education and peer support. We offer a free online money management course for domestic workers. You just need to click “ Send Message” on our Facebook page to enroll. https://www.facebook.com/uplifters.community/

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

These are challenging times for all of us and especially for our community.

Our objective with this Antivirus Video Live is to reply to your questions if we can or collect them and consult with professionals afterwards so we can answer them later. We are happy to come together as a community and provide comfort to each other in these difficult situations, we will go through it together. Uplifters is first and foremost a community and we will go through these difficult times with you.

We are very happy to have Devi Novianti as our guest tonight. She is a domestic worker in Hong Kong, human rights advocate, facilitator of change and dream builder coach. We will discuss the impact of Covid-19 on our mental health and how we can overcome stress and anxiety during these challenging times.

Welcome to our live broadcast, Devi. It’s a pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thank you very much for joining us.

Can you tell us something about who you are and the work that you do?

Devi: My name is Devi, I’m Indonesian. I’ve worked in Hong Kong for 25 years. In my entire career in Hong Kong, I’ve worked in empowering migrant domestic workers as they are ones of our stakeholder. I’m now working in the Equal Opportunities Commission. People have a lot of potential and sometimes we discount our own ability. I’m really passionate about it so that people can see the potential that they have beyond their circumstances.

The current pandemic has affected domestic workers in so many ways. They are among the most vulnerable to abuse in society. What do you often see as the main concerns of domestic workers now? How do these concerns affect their work and daily life?

Devi: What I’ve heard in Hong Kong is that the flights are cancelled, people want to go home and contracts are terminated. It’s unfortunate that we have social issues like these. Some domestic workers are in limbo because when this thing started they were on holiday. Some employers do not provide them a mask. Because of social distancing rules, now domestic workers have to be in groups of less than 4 when they go out. There is limited space at home. In Hong Kong, houses are very small and there is no place for the domestic worker to rest. Sometimes even though the employer doesn’t allow the domestic worker to work on a holiday, they still work. I even heard one domestic worker who was asked by her employer to take a shower with bleach. It’s really a tough time.

For those who are worried for the safety of their families back home, how should they cope with feelings of fear and uncertainty?

Devi: In times like this it’s very important to look after ourselves. Fear and anxiety are connected to our brain and hormonal functions. If we have too much fear you actually reduce your capability to produce lymphocytes or red blood cells. Worrying doesn’t serve anyone. Make sure that you maintain your contact with your family. You can be a source of inspiration to them. If you are anxious and scared, it will create a loop because this person, your family, will be worried. Focus on the solutions but don’t think about the problem too much. Let me put it this way. I’m really happy Uplifters is giving financial education. Hopefully some people have savings back home. Maybe this is the time that we can think of solutions.

There is greater pressure and stress among migrant domestic workers whose families rely on. Some are the sole breadwinners in their families while some have young children and elderly parents. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with thoughts of not being able to provide for their families if they catch the virus or if they would be able to survive it. What is your advice to them?

Devi: Always have a safety net in case something bad happened. Have a plan in place so that when things go wrong you are not worried because you have a back up already. If there is a will there is a way. It’s just a matter of whether you are willing to do everything it takes. For example, if your goal is you want to create a great life for you and your family, you must be willing to put the time and effort. Sometimes you limit yourself and you have this narrow window of things that you are willing to do. Yes we have to be aware and we have to be careful in these tough times but it does not mean everything is doom and gloom. You can ask yourself what opportunity you can see in this situation. Maybe you can see an opportunity to change and shift your financial situation. Look into opportunities around you. Maybe there is something you can actually do. Instead of being the victim of the situation maybe you can actually create something out of your circumstances. Try to find things that make you happy. Put your earphones and listen to music. Some people listen to gospel or meditation music. Find a way that makes you feel peace within yourself. Another thing is law protection. Remember that we have protection even when we are in quarantine. For example when your employer says I’m worried that you are going to develop this coronavirus, I need to let you go. This can be categorized as imputed disability. This is something that people can lodge a complaint to the EOC. Remember your rights. The number 3 concept that you should always remember is what you focus your attention on will expand. Instead of focusing on fear, focus on a healthy and happy lifestyle that can bring you joy. This is something that we should focus our attention to because anxiety and fear do not serve us.

You are from Indonesia. Is there a specific message you want to share with our community of Indonesian domestic workers?

Devi: My message is applicable to everyone. Fear is contagious. If there is a will there’s a way. See the possibilities beyond everything. Do not let the gloom and doom affect you. You have to look after yourselves, Sleep well, make sure your body gets the required hours of sleep, drink a lot of water, light exercise, healthy eating, do something that makes you happy whether it is dancing in the bathroom or singing. Just hang in there. It’s easy to think everything is bad but if you have a gratitude journal you can find something that you can be grateful for.

We admire your commitment to equality and supporting underprivileged people. Why is this important to you? How can each of us help and contribute especially given the current situation?

Devi: Try to see the possibilities, nurture yourself, share your knowledge and wisdom to uplift each other so people do not feel alone or isolated especially now when people cannot go out. This is a good time for us to reach out. Sometimes we unconsciously judge other people but we have to remember that everyone is different and everyone has their own experience. Instead of saying to other people, “Really, what made you think you can do that?”, you can say “Go for it, it’s amazing!” Let’s lift each other’s spirits, be there for each other and share the love.

Relita in her journey of financial independence and giving back to the community

Relita Pascua, has twelve siblings and is is a mother to one beautiful daughter. She has been working in Hong Kong for 34 years already and is an Uplifters alumni.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview:

Q. In what way did Uplifters help you?

A: I have gained self confidence in talking to other people. I am glad I am able to help others by teaching them how to become their own money manager. I have learned a lot from the Uplifters courses. I still read my notes whenever I encounter issues that I need help with. I really enjoyed the challenges and quizzes in the courses.

Q. What are the changes in your life after Uplifters?

A: The courses helped me in managing the cooperative business that I started in Hong Kong in 2003 and in the Philippines in 2008. I also have an agricultural business that I started in 2009. As the founding president, I have a big responsibility to oversee the operation of the business while I am here in Hong Kong as I manage the savings program from members who are working overseas. I am also apart of the International Marketing Group and am a financial educator where we teach students how to build a solid financial foundation.

Q. What are the challenges that you encountered?

A. I am not a university graduate but I desire to help my community to be progressive and help our people find the courage and determination to do it. I’ve been through a lot of failures and challenges financially but I never quit on my dreams. The trust of our members gives me reason to continue learning so that I can help them more. I have had a very hard life but I have been determined to make a difference for my family and I am proud to say that I have done so, now our family is much better. I can honestly say that I work because I want to, not because I need to. I am ready to retire anytime but my employer asked me to reconsider to work for another two years. God is my partner and I believe He will provide everything we need. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

“Uplifters has motivated me to achieve my goals and dreams.”

Maylene Maylas has been working in Singapore for the past seven years. She is from Surallah, South Cotabato, Mindanao in the Philippines. She has three beautiful girls, aged 14, 12 and 10. She likes cooking Filipino food and is learning to cook Singaporean food as well. In her spare time she loves to read and write poems. Here’s an excerpt of our interview.

Q. Why did you join Uplifters?

A. I joined Uplifters because I wanted to learn how to budget my income so that I can prepare for my children’s future. My family is my priceless treasure.

Q. How did Uplifters help you?

A. Uplifters has motivated me to achieve my goals and dreams. Since I started working abroad, I have now purchased three properties, a tricycle, cows and thirty coconut trees. I am now saving for my house project. Uplifters has also been a good influence to one of my friends whom I have encouraged to enroll. Before Uplifters she was in debt but now she has learned the value of saving and paying one’s debt on time. I’m happy to learn that she will start saving once she clears her debt.

Q. What is your advice to migrant domestic workers?

A. My advice to my fellow migrant workers is to focus on one project at a time. Think carefully before starting any project and as much as possible, do not take out any loans. It is better to have savings rather than using credit to buy. For those who have children, we do not need to spoil them with unnecessary things so they can also learn the value of money.

Many thanks Maylene for sharing your story with us and for your commitment to our Uplifters Community. Maylene is one of our Diamond Team Leaders and she has already supported fellow domestic workers through more than 14 sessions of “Dare to Dream”, our 3-week free online course on money management and personal growth.

“There is no age limit to learning.”

Meet our alumni, Freda Payod. Freda is from Eastern Samar, Philippines. She has been working in Singapore for almost 11 years and has 3 children ages 26, 22 and 14. Here are some interesting facts about her from our interview.

“When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a lawyer but I wasn’t able to achieve it because of poverty. I also dreamed of becoming a successful restaurateur or owning a grocery store. One of my favorite memories is selling different products during my younger days. I used to help my mother in making different crafts like mirrors coated with sea shells and curtains made from bamboo and shell. I had a small “sari-sari store” when I was in the Philippines and I would make ice packs everyday to sell to our neighbors. It helped pay our electric and water bills for a month.

But life was hard for me since I did not have other sources of income so I decided to work abroad in order to support my children. My first few years were not easy because of homesickness and I did not have a day off during my two years with my first employer. I am happier now as I have the chance to uplift myself through courses offered to domestic workers. I am proud to say that I was able to finish the Hotel and Restaurant Care course in 2016 and Basic Dressmaking in 2019. Currently, I am taking Computer and Advance Dressmaking courses during my day off.

I learned about Uplifters through a Foreign Domestic Workers’ group and I decided to join their online course because I wanted to learn new ideas on how to improve my life.

Before Uplifters, I was easily discouraged and thought I was not brave enough to face life. However one story from the Dare to Dream course inspired me to stop listening to negative criticism from other people.

The course helped me learn how to manage my money well and say no to people in a nice way. The courses of Uplifters differ from other classes because they really helped me to be motivated in pursuing my goals.

Thank you so much to Uplifters for all the knowledge that you imparted to us.

To my fellow migrant domestic workers, I encourage you to use your day off wisely and spend it on activities that can be beneficial to you and your future. There is no age limit to learning.”

Antivirus #2

Here is the transcript of our Facebook Live on Thursday 2nd April to help our community of migrant domestic workers go through COVID-19 challenges.

Hi everyone,
I am Marie, Uplifters Founder and CEO. Here is Jenely, the Uplifters Community Building Officer.
Uplifters is a non profit organization dedicated to empowering underprivileged communities with online education and peer support. We offer a free online money management course for domestic workers. You just need to click “ Send Message” on our Facebook page to enroll. https://www.facebook.com/uplifters.community/

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

These are challenging times for all of us and especially for our community.

Our objective with this Antivirus Video Live is to reply to your questions if we can or collect them and consult with professionals afterwards so we can answer them later. We are happy to come together as a community and provide comfort to each other in these difficult situations, we will go through it together. Uplifters is first and foremost a community and we will go through these difficult times with you.

We are very happy to have Bhing Navato as our guest tonight. She is a domestic worker in Singapore and a committed volunteer at Home, Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics. We will discuss questions related to your days off.

Welcome to our live broadcast, Bhing. It’s a pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thank you very much for joining us.

Can you tell us something about yourself and your work as a domestic worker? How long have you been working in Singapore?

Bhing: Hello everyone. My name is Bhing. I’m really happy to be here in your live broadcast. I’ve been a domestic worker here in Singapore for almost 25 years. I really like it here. I have a very good employer. I joined HOME because I wanted to help my fellow domestic workers. I always say to people that I know I can do something to help them. I know I can encourage them with my experience. My 25 years of experience can of course be shared with them.

Why did you decide to volunteer with HOME? Please tell us more about the work that you’re doing for them.

Bhing: I’ve been volunteering for HOME for 5 years. If my fellow volunteers will ask me to do something, I always say “anything for HOME”. I like to help, especially for my fellow domestic workers. I want them to know that they are never alone. We are here to listen to them, share their burdens and find a friend in us. For those who call us on the hotline or come on Sundays they can tell us their problems. I notice that they just want someone to listen to them. For the newcomers, they don’t always know what to do. Although they go through training, it is still different in real life. We give them solutions and listen to them. They can call HOME at these numbers. The hotline is 1800-797 7977 (Toll Free) / +65 6341 5525. For WhatsApp and Viber, the number is +65 97873122.

Let’s talk about the impact of Covid-19 on the day off for domestic workers. Migrant domestic workers are strongly encouraged to stay at home on their day off by both the Hong Kong and Singapore government. How is this affecting domestic workers? What are the main problems that they are encountering?

Note: In Singapore employers are allowed to pay domestic workers to work on their day off, however it is illegal in Hong Kong, they specify that domestic workers are entitled to 24 hours of uninterrupted rest (but that’s not always applied).

Bhing: The Ministry of Manpower sent a notice to encourage workers to stay at home on their day off but if they need to run errands, they can do so but need to come back immediately. Depending on the discussion between the employer and domestic worker, some domestic workers are not allowed to go out on Sundays but they can go out on weekdays to do errands. They feel it’s unfair to them. A lot of domestic workers are complaining that most of them do not have space to rest. In Singapore employers are allowed to pay compensation if they don’t go out but some domestic workers will not be so lucky to have it, especially now that the notice from MOM continues to change.

How should domestic workers handle the issues you have described?

Bhing: I always remind them that they need to talk to their employers first. They need to ask nicely. For example, if they need to remit money to their families in the Philippines or Indonesia, they need to tell employers what they’re going to do. They need to understand the situation of what’s happening now. I always remind them to practice social distancing. We are so thankful that no domestic worker is infected with the Covid-19 virus.

If the domestic worker is too shy to talk to their employer, what would you advise?

Bhing: There are so many people in that situation. In Singapore, we don’t have the power of negotiation. Most of us just say yes to our employers because we need to keep our jobs. I tell them that “You came here, that’s your first step of being courageous.” Most of employers here will treat their domestic workers like young girls. Communication is very important. No matter how fierce your employer is, it is important to talk to them. It is better than assuming something. Why don’t you try to ask them nicely? They always say I’m scared but you should have the courage to talk to your employer.

What if the employer infects the domestic worker?

Bhing: I think Singapore will cover the medical costs. I hope that she will be responsible to do her quarantine and social distancing. She should also tell her friends about it.

We’d like to hear about your experience. Were your days off affected since this situation started?

Bhing: My days off have been very affected. I want to set a good example by not going out. Even to my fellow volunteers, I tell them to practice social distance. When they told me to stay away from crowded places, I did not understand it at first. Everybody wants to go back to normal life again. But for now we should try to understand the situation first.

There’s also an organization similar to HOME in Hong Kong. It’s called Help for domestic workers. Their number is 852 2523 4020. WhatsApp is +852 5936 3780. For WhatsApp in Bahasa Indonesia, + 852 5493 4660. You can also call them if you’re having issues or need advise.

Some of our members have shared feelings of anxiety and loneliness because of not being able to go out during their days off. It’s even more difficult to those who have been asked to work on their rest days. Because of the stay at home guidelines, their employers’ family is at home most of the time and domestic workers find themselves doing more work and not getting adequate rest. What is your advice to those who are struggling to cope with these changes?

Bhing: There are so many online learning courses that we can find on the Internet. For example, join Uplifters. You can take the time to chat with your family or friends that you haven’t talked to in a long time. If your employer allows you to go out even for a few hours, do some exercise. Pick up new hobbies and skills to ease your stress.

Social distancing guidelines were released recently. What are your tips in practicing social distancing?

Bhing: When my friends and I meet, we sit apart from each other by one meter. We share food but we make sure we observe proper hygiene between all of us. Social distancing means you should avoid crowded places. Even when you’re in the grocery, stand 1 meter apart from other people.

Thank you again, Bhing!

Communicate well with your employer during Covid-19

How are you doing? 

This is a common question, but many times it is simply a greeting, not a real question. I feel, however, that with the current Covid-19 situation, people now give this question a deeper meaning. There may be a shift in how we all communicate.  

So really — how are you doing — I really want to know.

As human beings living through a pandemic, we are going through a lot of emotions. Wouldn’t you agree? We have never lived times like these before. None of us.There are many things we don’t know. What we know though is that  this is something we will overcome together, by connecting and supporting each other as human beings should. 

These are difficult times for all and your employer is likely stressed and tired as well. We all need to do our best to understand each other and realize there may be more work because of these exceptional circumstances. But it does not mean you should not say anything and endure all. Good communication skills will be key.

This is why I am writing today to provide some tips on how communication can help us connect and support each other. 

I am Mônica Z. Hall, a Brazilian living mostly in Asia since 1999, a Corporate Trainer and Coach, a mother, a wife, a friend, a yoga and meditation practitioner, an employer of the same domestic worker for almost 7 years; and above all a human being just like all of us – with fears and dreams.

With FELIZ Consulting I work with a number of individuals and organisations to help them make the most of their communication skills to grow their team or themselves. As an active volunteer with different NGOs in Hong Kong, I am really excited and honoured to be involved with Uplifters this year. 

In this article, I am here to share some communication skills tips that I hope will be practical to you. 

The Uplifters Dare to Dream program uses DESC technique in its course. So, to begin, let’s look at it and expand from it with some examples.

DESC stands for Describe, Express, Specify and Consequences.

D like DESCRIBE

The first step is to Describe a situation we observe. Try to use facts as much as you can. Focus on just one recent behaviour you have witnessed. If you feel comfortable with saying “I” when you describe what you saw, this could help- e.g. “I saw that…” rather than “You did this…” (which can sound  aggressive). 

For example, you may choose to say:

  • I saw you seemed unhappy with my work earlier”  instead of “You are yelling at me when I am trying to do the job”. 
  • Due to the current situation, I have not had any Sunday off for the past 3 weeks” instead of “You did not allow me to have any Sunday off for the past 3 weeks”
  • I did not receive compensation for the two Sundays I worked this month” instead of “You did not pay me extra for the two Sundays I worked this month”

Describe it and pause after you said it. Using pauses  and silences helps getting your audience digest what you just said and better respond.

E like EXPRESS

The next step is to Express how this behaviour impacts you, preferably using “I feel” sentences. It will help connect emotions with emotions, feelings with feelings, all the more if you communicate with people from different backgrounds, cultures or social economical status. We all better connect with emotions and feelings (Emotional Intelligence studies prove it)  This will also help you to avoid the more problematic and aggressive “you” statements,”You said this…”, “You did that…”, “It is your fault that…” which are not constructive ways of communicating but instead focus on blame.

Therefore, you might say things like:  “Lately I felt tired;” “I am feeling stressed out about the pandemic”; “I am feeling concerned for my family in my home country.” Naming and sharing your feelings and emotions should help your employer connect to their own feelings and emotions. This connection will make it more likely for them to adapt their behaviour; which is what you want to get next.  

S like SPECIFY

Specify what you would like them to do differently. This is  tricky with an employer in any work environment. It might be even more difficult in an employer-domestic worker relationship as work and family are mixed into one environment. By having expressed your feelings and emotions first (in the Express part), you may have stirred up empathy. Yet, feeling empathy might help your employer change their behaviour. 

C like CONSEQUENCES

Finally, share the Consequences their behaviour change will have on you. It’s natural that they’ll want to understand why you’re asking for a change to their behaviour or why you are mentioning something is wrong in the way they do things.  It’s important you can explain how it will impact both you and them for the better

Examples may be:

  • “When I can’t rest on Sundays, I know I won’t be able to work well on the long term” 
  • “When I don’t get my day off, I feel very tired and may not do what you expect me to do well — I feel I lose patience with the kids”. 

It is even better  if you can say it positively:

  • “If I can get my day off, I will feel more energised to come back”
  • “If I can have some rest time I will be better rested to play more with the kids”. 

Focusing on the positive language is to influence a change in behaviour.

DESC is a great technique to acknowledge where you are as a person and also to provoke positive behaviour change

I hope you are using it and that the additional examples above can be of help.

There is a lot more we could talk about, discuss, practice in terms of how to best communicate not only in a domestic work environment but in any job. For now, let’s save the new sharing for another article or a video!

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

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

Keep a Happy Mind!

Warmest wishes, Mônica

www.felizconsulting.com 

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Meet Janelyn Puhlen Dupingay, an Uplifters’ alumni and Diamond Team Leader. She is a talented writer and has been instrumental in helping our students throughout “Dare to Dream”, our free online course on money management and personal growth.

Jane is from Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. She is a proud mom to a lovely 9 year old daughter, Therese Jane. Because of financial difficulties in the Philippines, she moved to Singapore four years ago.

We love her radiant smile, compassion for others and dedication to making an impact on the lives of fellow migrant workers.

Read more of Jane’s story here:

Q. What led you to move to Singapore?

A. I applied to Singapore because of my financial struggles back home. When I worked in my family farm for almost three years, I experienced what my parents did in order to provide for us. I remember those moments when I needed to climb up a mountain in order to plant or harvest corn. I experienced how it feels to be standing the whole day under the hot sun and even rainy days. I didn’t have any complaints because I had to work in order for us to survive. It wasn’t an easy life but I endured. I left my daughter when she was turning five because I wanted to provide for her needs as she grows up.

Q. What are the challenges you encountered when you moved to Singapore?

A. The most challenging part of working far from my loved ones was overcoming homesickness. No one told me that it would be so difficult. I’ve cried on all corners of my employer’s house because of the unbearable pain I felt whenever I thought about my daughter, especially thinking of when she was sleeping when I left her.

Being a domestic helper requires a lot of patience. I do an all around job; from cooking, cleaning, taking care of a child and an elderly person and many more things.

What I love about my work is that I am blessed with an understanding employer who has helped me to grow as a person. She always gives time whenever I want to talk to her about something, whether it is about work or my personal life. My employer has even said that it is fate that brought us together. I only prayed for a job that could support my family’s needs but God gave me more than what I asked for.

They aren’t a perfect family but overall I am happy with them. I struggled working with my co-helper since we have different personalities but eventually I have learned how to handle it. Our employer was always there to mediate and she’s always been fair to us and treated us equally. During this time, I also learned how to control my temper and how to stay calm despite the work pressure.

Q. How did you find out about Uplifters?

A. I heard about Uplifters from an Indonesian friend who was doing the “Dare to Dream” course the time. After a few days, Marie posted in the forum an invitation to join the class. I was curious with their name Uplifters so I found myself reserving a spot for the next session and was added to a class-chat with team leaders, Bayti and Amy. I was so excited to take part in the lessons and was one of the students who actively shared and participated.

Q. What did the Uplifters course help you with?

A. Before I joined the course, I did not even have a bank account during my first two contracts because I did not trust myself. I only took my salary from my employer when I needed it but I had a difficult time controlling my spending habits and was always left nothing for my savings. The course taught me how to make a dream board, to budget my salary in order to make smart planning decisions and most of all, it taught me how to stay motivated. I’ve learned how to wake up every morning having a positive attitude no matter what happened the day before. I’ve learned how to set an affirmation for myself and how important it is to start the day with a great mindset. It taught me how to be confident and to believe that I have the ability to save financially.

The real challenge for me was to apply and get in the habit of doing what I learned from Uplifters into my everyday life. It took me a year to practice and to put into action everything I learned from Uplifters. I tried cutting down unnecessary expenses and I practiced defining what my needs and wants were. I also learned how to be mindful of the money I send for my family. I now monitor what the money is used for and where it was allotted.

I challenged myself to apply for my own bank account here in Singapore so I can monitor my money properly. I also applied for my Social Security System account which I didn’t really care about before. I started paying life insurance plans for myself and my mother because I don’t want to be a burden for my family after I leave this world. My brother and I help each other in growing our rice field and farm. He does the manpower and I help in financing. Having a rice field where my family can get a supply for their daily food is very helpful for us since the price of rice is becoming very expensive. I hope that soon they will also plant vegetables in our backyard so they can save money instead of buying them from the store. I’ve never been this concerned about how we can get extra income instead of depending only on my salary. I started making plans for my retirement as well and what I’m going to do once I decide to go home for good.

Q. If you have to choose an image to illustrate your life before Uplifters and after having done Uplifters, what image would you choose?

A. After the course, I also started building up my own self confidence. Before I would say “I can’t “, now I will say “let me try or let me do it”. I am always scared to come out of my comfort zone. I used to be afraid to take a step towards self improvement but now I feel aggressive and hungry for self development. I am like a bamboo grass that continuously grows but remain to be humble as I know how to bow down whenever it’s needed. I can now be flexible to whatever situation comes into my life. I may be blown away or sway with the winds but my roots remain intact which I can compare to my self determination. I don’t let any life circumstances shake my belief that one day I’ll be able to achieve my goals.

Q. What do you enjoy about being a team leader?

A. The most rewarding part about being a team leader is I grow together with my students. I may repeatedly read the lessons but it continuously inspires me. I find my worth being a woman by helping to empower my fellow women. It is my happiness to share with them how this life changing course moulded me to be better, changed my perceptions and live a life full of compassion. In Uplifters, I found my purpose and that is to be an instrument to make a change in the lives of foreign domestic workers. It is satisfying to know that I am part of how these students find their own self, dreaming and working towards achieving their goals. I love what I am doing right now and I will continue to give back to the community that impacted me deeply.

Q. Tell us about your passion for writing.

A. I joined a group named Migrant Writers of Singapore which is composed of different races who have a passion for writing. They always have activities such as workshops, poetry readings and even festivals. It was a good opportunity for me to dive deeper into my passion for writing.

Whenever I feel sad, homesick or helpless, I always let the feelings go away by itself. I always believe that “there is one good thing even in the most difficult situation”, we just need to open our eyes to see and feel it within. When life seems so unbearable, think of the reason why you are choosing to fight. Life may not always be fair but we have the choice to make things right and better. Activate the spirit within you, the power to overcome every obstacles and the will to survive every battle.

Sometimes when I feel empty, I usually take my pen and start writing what is inside my heart. It somehow cures me because I am able to release it through writing. It often comes out as a poem, an essay or a motivational piece. I only write what my heart says.

Q. What advice would you give to domestic workers who are struggling?

A. For those of you who are in difficult situations, please gather all your strength and try not to think badly about yourself. Take it as a process that you need to undergo, a part of the journey towards a brighter tomorrow. Before I became an optimistic person, I battled my fears such as my fear of society’s judgment, fear of trying and losing the things I valued and living alone. I even feared life and death. But all these fears vanished when I started to face them using determination as my sword!

In the Uplifters course I learned to focus on what I want to happen in my life. There will be people or events that might distract us but we need to cling to the rope that will lead us to success. For me, there is nothing wrong about listening to feedback but make sure that we know how to filter it. Feedback can either make or break us, but I choose the first one. Be inspired with the good feedback and use those negative words as a ladder to achieve your goals. You don’t always need to explain yourself to those people who criticize you or say that you can’t do it. Remember to work hard in silence and let your success speak for you. Strengthen your emotional health because for me this is one of the foundations to greater heights. Train yourself to deal with things calmly. We all have the ability to change our lives, don’t say you can’t, but change your habits instead.

Remember the saying of Lao Tzu ,”The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Begin it by loving your own self. If you love yourself you will not let anyone or anything hurt you. When you love yourself, you will want to see yourself happy and you will never think that you are less. Love yourself because no one can love you as genuinely as you.

Janelyn with her family in the Philippines

Q. What are your dreams for the future?

A. One of my goals for this year to renovate our family house. My target is to start renovating our family house before this year ends. I want to preserve some of the special parts that will always remind me of my dad and make it a little bit modern, too. I also dream of finishing my caregiving course so I can be equipped with the right knowledge and skills in caregiving. There was one morning when my daughter messaged me saying that my mom was not feeling well since she is prone to hypertension. I instructed her to do the first aid that I’ve learned from my class and it helped my mom to feel better. She’s the person I look up to. She has loved me from the moment I was conceived. She’s always been there for me and never hated me no matter how many times I made her cry. She doesn’t know how to read or write but she loves us completely and I promised myself that I will return all the sacrifices she has done for us. My mom and my daughter keep me motivated and I hope I’ll be home soon to be with them and to create wonderful memories with them.

“Do things that your future self will thank you for.”

Today meet our Diamond Team Leader, Maria Cristina Eugenio or M’jay as she is fondly called.

Team Leaders are Uplifters alumni supporting new students throughout their online courses.

M’jay is from the province of Pangasinan in the Philippines. She has been working in Singapore since 2001.

Get to know her more in this interview:

“I am the eldest among 5 siblings. We did not come from a privileged family, life was tough. I got married at an early age and did not get along with my estranged husband. I decided to work abroad because I thought it was much better than working in my homeland where a basic salary was not enough to put food on the table. I kept on wondering what kind of future awaited me! I am blessed to have a 22 year old son. He is an aircraft mechanic and I am so proud of him. My son is my pride and inspiration.

In my free time, I love writing recipes and reading books. They help me to destress and relax. I am grateful to a friend of mine who influenced me to read the “Power of Reading.” Since then, collecting books became my hobby. Robert T. Kiyosaki really inspired me with his book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” I was so amazed with his explanation of how money works for the rich, poor and the middle class. He was the reason why I fully understood how investments work.

Improving and enhancing myself is important to me. I took some courses before as I wanted to prove that I have something to be proud of. A friend of mine introduced Uplifters to me and I decided to try it. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Uplifters shaped me into who I am today. It taught me the value of today and the benefits of tomorrow. Uplifters taught me the formula of life and how to slow down and appreciate life. It taught me how to differentiate the power of a dreamer and how to make your dreams happen. Because of that, I have a clear vision of the finish line that I want to reach and I am taking steps to achieve it. I am saving for my emergency fund and investing at the same time. I am also looking for a great opportunity to buy property in the Philippines.

I love being a team leader as I can see the potential of each of my students. I am happy when they seize a great opportunity to grow and learn. Seeing them get their certificates after they finished the course has been rewarding to me as well. I feel I made an impact when they say they have become a better version of themselves. I became a living instrument to change one’s life. That’s all that matters to me as a team leader. I’m happy that I have become closer to my Dare to Dream batch. We’ve developed a strong bond with each other. We take time to catch up, share ideas and join workshops if we have the chance.

My greatest advise to my fellow domestic workers is to educate yourself about financial literacy while you are still young. Teach your family how to manage money wisely. Save as much as you can. What matters is how much you save, not how much you earn. As Uplifters taught us, do things that your future self will thank you for.”

Antivirus #1

Here is the transcript of our Facebook Live on Thursday 26th March to help our community of migrant domestic workers go through COVID-19 challenges.

Hi everyone,

I am Marie, Uplifters Founder and CEO. Here is Jenely, the Uplifters Community Building Officer.

Uplifters is a non profit organization dedicated to empowering underprivileged communities with online education and peer support. We offer a free online money management course for domestic workers. You just need to click “ Send Message” on our Facebook page to enroll. https://www.facebook.com/uplifters.community/

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

These are challenging times for all of us and especially for our community.

Our objective with this Antivirus Video Live is to 

  • Reply to your questions if we can or collect them and consult with professionals afterwards so we can answer them later
  • Just be there together, provide comfort to each other in these difficult situations, we will go through it together. Uplifters is first and foremost a community and we will go through these difficult times with you.

Here are the questions and most common issues we have heard from the community. We will differentiate Hong Kong and Singapore as the laws and situations are different.

We will discuss questions related to your job, and especially your days off, to your financial situation, to your family and finally to your mental health.

JOB

  • If my employer suspects I have contracted the virus, can he fire me without notice? 

This is not a valid reason for termination without notice but of course you need to make sure you don’t contaminate the family. Discuss with your employer how you will apply the quarantine procedures and if you still get terminated, contact NGOs, the Immigration Department in Hong Kong and the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore (list below).

  • If my employer contracts the virus, can I refuse to work? Anyone who has the virus must take the necessary quarantine measures. Employers must also ensure the safety and health at work of their employees. You may terminate your employment contract without notice if your employer fails to do this, due to reasonable fear of disease. But we recommend instead to discuss the situation with your employer and make sure your safety is not at risk. 
  • My employer is overseas while I am at their place of residence in Hong Kong and Singapore. Should they pay my salary even though I have no work? Yes as you are in your normal place of work so, by law they need to pay your salary. However as always we always recommend you to discuss the situation with your employer rather than losing your job because you went straight to MOM in Singapore or the Labour Department in Hong Kong. Do not hesitate to ask for advice to your agency and NGOs listed here.
  • I am stranded in the Philippines or Indonesia. Does my employer owe me my salary? The legal answer is no but of course you can still discuss with your employer who may be willing to help in this exceptional situation.

DAYS OFF

In Hong Kong and Singapore it’s now recommended that domestic workers stay home on their off days.

Note: In Singapore employers are allowed to pay domestic workers to work on rest days while it’s illegal in Hong Kong. Employers need to provide a replacement day.

In Singapore the Ministry of Manpower authorises light duties on days off while in Hong Kong the Labour Department specifies the domestic worker is entitled to 24 hours of interrupted rest (but that’s not always applied).

  • When I stay at home on my day off, my employer asks me to work and doesn’t pay me or replace me with another rest day. Should I do the work then? 

First we will repeat the importance of good communications with your employer. We will provide resources on how to communicate. You can explain to your employer that you need to rest in order to work well the rest of the week. You need to find arrangements with your employer as we know it’s especially challenging if you don’t have your own room. 

As long as the government authorises it, you can also discuss going out for a walk / running your personal errands, ensuring that you will be careful and avoid mass gatherings. Your employer needs to be confident that you don’t put them at risk.

  • My employer tells me that I can be sick even if I have no symptoms, is it true? Yes it’s true that’s why we all need to be very cautious.

FINANCES

More than ever you need to be very cautious with your money and if possible save to build an emergency fund in case you don’t have one yet. We expect economic difficulties in the coming months and we will all be impacted.

If you need to borrow money, go to licensed money lenders, abide by the law (Singapore has more restrictive laws) or better you can discuss the situation with your employer who may be willing to help so you avoid being charged interests (but don’t consider your employer as a bank :)) If not done yet, join our free money management course! Just click Send Message on our Facebook page.

YOUR FAMILY

  • How do I make my family understand the dangers of this virus and keep myself and them away from fake news?

Share with them articles from official sources. Do not immediately believe everything you read on the Internet. Confirm first with reliable sources. 

  • How do I keep them safe while I am here?

Remind your family to practice good hygiene and stay at home as much as possible.

Show them the videos we made on proper hand-washing.

Tagalog

Bahasa 

Stress the importance of eating healthily and if you can, connect with them more.

  • How do I make sure they have food and money during the lockdown period?

Discuss the financial situation early enough with them so you can figure out a plan.

  • My children are scared and worried about me.

Guidelines from the World Health Organization on helping children cope with stress during the outbreak:

  • Children may respond to stress in different ways such as being more clingy, anxious, withdrawing, angry or agitated, bedwetting. 
  • Give them extra time and attention. 
  • Remember to listen to your children, speak kindly and reassure them. 
  • Provide facts about what has happened, explain what is going on now and give them clear information about how to reduce their risk of being infected by the disease in words that they can understand depending on their age. 

MENTAL HEALTH 

  1. I’m afraid of getting infected or maybe infecting others.
  2. I’m stressed and uncertain about what the future will bring.
  3. I’m tired or having difficulties in falling asleep or relaxing.
  4. I’m angry or sad because so many things happen that you cannot control.
  5. I’m worried about the safety of my family in the Philippines/Indonesia.

We recommend the leaflet from Mind Hong Kong on how to maintain your mental health

  1. From Mind Hong Kong

Bahasa version: https://www.mind.org.Hong Kong/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ResponseCoronavirusBahasa-version-3.pdf

Tagalog version: https://www.mind.org.Hong Kong/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ResponseCoronavirus-Tagalog-version-1-2.pdf

English version: https://www.mind.org.Hong Kong/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/ResponseCoronavirusENG6.2.2020-.pdf

In a nutshell:

  • Try to manage feelings of uncertainty. Try to separate what is in your control and what is out of your control.
  • Try some breathing and mindfulness exercises to help you relax.
  • Get outside or go for a walk.Choose a less crowded area or a time when you know there are less people.
  • Keep active/moving.
  • Incorporate an activity from each of the “5 ways to wellbeing” (Give, Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning) into your day. 
  • Take a break / Switch off from the news.
  • Learn to recognize and acknowledge feelings of loneliness. If you aren’t able to go out, try alternative ways of making contact with others. Phoning, texting, video calling or emailing friends and family can help you feel more grounded and remind you that there are people in your life who you can connect with.

Signs that we might be becoming overwhelmed by anxiety:

  • Noticing your mind being preoccupied by stressful events (like how coronavirus is
  • affecting our lives)
  • Becoming more sensitive towards news or information regarding the situation
  • Having trouble staying focused and/or concentrating on work
  • Having trouble falling asleep or feeling restless
  • Shallow breathing, faster heartbeat
  • Constantly checking social media or news sources for information

IMPORTANT CONTACT DETAILS

in Hong Kong

Emergency hotline: 999 

Social Welfare Department: 

https://www.swd.gov.hk/en/index/

2343 2255

Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong

https://hongkongpcg.dfa.gov.ph/

2823 8500

Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia

https://kemlu.go.id/hongkong/en

3651 0200

in Singapore

24-hour emergency medical services: 995

Ministry of Manpower:

https://www.facebook.com/sgministryofmanpower

65 6438 5122 

Philippine Consulate

https://www.facebook.com/PHinSingapore

+65-6737-3977

Indonesia Consulate 

https://www.facebook.com/kbrisingapura/

+65-6737-8020

Organisations in Hong Kong

Help for Domestic Workers:     

https://www.facebook.com/HELPForDomesticWorkers/

2523 4020

Mission for Migrant Workers (Case guidance, welfare, shelter & food assistance):   

https://www.facebook.com/MFMWHK/

2522 8264

The Samaritans 24-hour hotline (Multilingual): https://www.facebook.com/SamaritansHongKong/

(852) 2896 0000 

Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre: 

https://www.facebook.com/18288CFCSC/

18288

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions: 

https://www.facebook.com/Hong-Kong-Confederation-of-Trade-Unions-Training-Centre

2770 8668

NGOs in Singapore

Centre for Domestic Employees

http://cde.org.Singapore/wps/portal/cde/home

+1 800-225-5233

H.O.M.E (Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics)

https://www.facebook.com/migrantworkerssg/

+65 6741 1725

Samaritans of Singapore: 

https://www.facebook.com/SamaritansOfSingapore/

1800-221-4444