The Team Leader who was accepted in a global fellowship of grassroots leaders

We are thrilled to announce that our Gold Team Leader Maria Nemy Lou Rocio was selected to be part of the 2021 cohort for GivingTuesday’s Starling Collective program, joining grassroots organizers, activists, artists and changemakers representing 29 countries.

Starling Collective is a global learning community and innovative fellowship that provides a 6-month coaching program and access to a peer learning community and offers grants to catalyze grassroots generosity worldwide.

Nemy applied for this program to help her Facebook group Migrant Writers of Hong Kong achieve its mission to provide a social media platform for talented and aspiring writers to freely share their thoughts through writings. They hope to connect the gap between domestic workers and the locals of Hong Kong through their writings. One of their visions is to provide workshops that will foster their community’s artistic, intellectual, and personal growth.

She learned about this program through Dr. Julie Ham of The Hong Kong University, who conducted and supported their writing workshops. “We are on our second month now and we still have four months to go. Through Giving Tuesday’s leadership program and peer community support, I hope that I will be able to have a deeper insight into being a community leader and organizer. I hope to gain more knowledge and utilize these new learnings to help my fellow domestic workers and together make our goals achievable”, Nemy shared.

“Believe in yourself that you can overcome life’s difficulties. If other people can do it, we can do it too.”

Today we’re sharing the story of one of our Diamond Team Leaders, Yulia Endang.
She has supported more than ten sessions of our free online course on money management, personal growth and mental well-being; Dare to Dream. She is from Ciamis, Indonesia and has been working in Singapore for 15 years.

Read more about how she overcame her struggles in her interview.

“My family was struggling with financial problems and I wanted to help. My mind was set on earning a good salary so I thought taking care of a household would be easy. But I was wrong; my English was very poor and I did not have much work experience. I spent nights crying and anxious that my employer would send me back. I wish that the training center in Indonesia told us about the challenges of working abroad and trained us better.

During my first few years of working, I felt that people thought being a domestic worker was not a decent job. I felt low and had no self-confidence. I turned to prayer to comfort me when I felt homesick and kept myself busy so there would be no space to feel stressed and depressed. I spent years reflecting until I got the courage to find and proudly show the positive sides of working as a domestic worker. Uplifters’ ‘Become a Leader’ course helped me gain confidence and develop my communication skills. I took writing and photography courses. My English significantly improved. I learned to cook a variety of dishes. I even started documenting the people and places that inspire me in my YouTube channel, YuliAShares. Now I call Singapore my second home.

I had many plans for my future but did not know how to start. Dare to Dream taught me the importance of making a plan and how to set goals. It is the only money management and personal growth course I took and I am grateful that I enrolled. I learned how to communicate and discuss my plan with my family. Learning to do so helped me save money and continue studying while supporting them at the same time. Currently, I am taking an online course in digital marketing at Writerpreneur.

To fellow domestic workers, believe in yourself that you can overcome life’s difficulties. If other people can do it, we can do it too.”

“Challenges are not obstacles. Instead, they are part of our journey.”

Rema Tabangcura is one of Uplifters’ Gold Team Leaders. She is a mother of two boys and has  been working in Singapore as a domestic worker for almost ten years. 

“I got married at an early age and did not finish my studies but I was determined to give my children a better future and working abroad was the only way I knew to do so. Even though I did not finish my secondary education, I tried my best and mustered up my courage to apply for a job. 

When I saw a Facebook post about Uplifters, I quickly enrolled. I was hungry for knowledge and wanted to improve my life. Although I had been working for many years, I did not have any savings at all. I did not know anything about budgeting and managing my finances. I used to spend money on unnecessary things and could not differentiate my wants from my needs. 

After finishing the Dare to Dream course, I was transformed. I now have the courage to say no and I am gradually building my confidence. Uplifters taught me to focus on my goals and the reason why I am working abroad. It taught me the value of self-discipline in managing my hard-earned money. I have built my emergency fund and continue to save and track my money. It helped me to believe in myself and my abilities. I was too shy and did not know how to express myself. Now I am a member of the Migrant Writers of Singapore. We enjoy attending literary workshops and developing our talents together. 

Being a team leader is challenging and fulfilling at the same time. When we learn from each other, I can not help but be grateful. Everyone shows compassion to each other. Challenges are not obstacles. Instead, they are part of our journey. All hardships we have been through are not meant to hurt us but to teach us and no matter what happens, there is always a reason behind it. We should be patient. 

My outlook on life has completely changed. Thank you to Uplifters.

“Dream big, start small and act now, as what Dare to Dream by Uplifters taught us.”

“I wish I had been told about Dare to Dream before moving abroad. If I already knew the importance of planning when to go home, I would probably not have spent 21 years abroad.”

Amy Ramirez is one of our Diamond Team Leaders who has supported more than ten sessions of our free online course on money management, personal growth and mental well-being Dare to Dream. A single mom from the Philippines, she decided to work abroad to provide a good future for her son.

“I realized after getting married that my husband was financially dependent on his mother and will never change. It was a difficult decision as it led to a broken marriage and separation from my family. Working as a domestic worker comes with a lot of challenges. Homesickness was very difficult. To cope, I ask God for guidance, strength and protection and practice self-affirmations. Some people think there is no place for a domestic worker to be happy because they feel it is a lowly job, discriminating against us and not showing us any respect. But I am also thankful because I have become a better person. I have beautiful memories with the families I have worked for in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Kuwait and now Singapore. Each has its own cultures and traditions that taught me values like instilling discipline in children and showing love to your family. I even got to develop my skills in food preparation and presentation.

Completing the online courses at Uplifters made me realize the value of money management and managing myself and my future. I learned how to make a financial plan through good budgeting and saving. It gave me the confidence to handle my money well. I continue to impart these lessons to my family and my 26-year-old son, a marine engineer.

As a Team Leader, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences and help more women achieve their goals. It is a noble deed for me. I am happy when I see the interest of students to learn more. I enjoy interacting with them and learning from their different experiences. Their attentive participation in our class chat inspires me. I urge fellow domestic workers to dream big, start small and act now, as what Dare to Dream by Uplifters taught us. Keep learning and practicing what you have learned and you will see the fruits of your hard work.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.”

Today we turn the spotlight on Uplifters’ team leader Haidee Roiles. 

“I am from Cebu, Philippines. I finished my Dare to Dream Course in February 2020 and completed the Become a Leader Course in July 2020.  I have been working in Singapore for almost four years. It is my first time to work abroad away from my loved ones back home. 

When I was young, I was full of aspirations and did my best in making them come true. But I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I lost track of how I could achieve my dreams and l made mistakes that changed the direction of my life. I had a family at 19 years old, which was difficult. I worked in call centres and a semiconductor electronics firm but none of it went well. I decided to come to Singapore to turn my life around and work as a domestic worker, not even knowing how much work it would be. Thankfully, my employers are kind and patiently taught me how to run the household. I won’t say it was a smooth journey; I am learning from the challenges I faced. 

Uplifters helped me a lot more than I anticipated. I signed up for their free online course when I saw their ad on Facebook with Uplifters’ team leader Janelyn Dupingay. I’ve known her on various platforms here in Singapore. I also took a Caregivers  Course at Aims Learning International School,  a six month instructional and interactive class, and 56 hours of volunteering in the Home for the Aged. I made it to the first rank amongst 68 aspiring fellow migrants too.

Being a team leader makes me happy and excited about facilitating the class chat. We learn together, we share real-life experiences, and we motivate each other to achieve our goals.  Listening to their own stories is very empowering for me. It is my way of giving back to others by uplifting them and by being there for them. 

I feel a sense of belonging in this community. The camaraderie and teamwork are overwhelming. There is the spirit of togetherness and the strong motivation to support each other. Learning and growing every day together in the spectrum of our virtual bond feels like home, and I feel a change within myself. The people who know me saw changes in me. I became more confident to speak up for my rights. I open up more about my thoughts and feelings. I became more focused and have developed a habit of doing things I love to do, like continuing to be a team leader in this community to be able to touch and make footprints in their lives. I have also been able to share and write literary pieces in various platforms for migrants, such as  Migrant Writers of Singapore, and also sharing my writings in Hong Kong through a migrants’ community named Horizons. We never know of the positive impact when they hear the messages of our compositions.

My humble advice to my fellow domestic workers is to be brave when facing challenges. Always carry your dreams with you. We came this far with little hope, initially a step forward to give our loved ones a promising future, that’s our main goal of coming to a foreign land.  Don’t get lost along the way of chasing your dreams. Find it deep in your heart. Believe. Become what you wish. I’d like to share my favourite quotes: “Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself” by George Bernard Shaw and “Dream, Believe, Become.”

My heartfelt gratitude to our Uplifters Community, thank you for this opportunity that you gave me, as a medium of touching and moving my life to the path of enlightenment, personal growth and money management insights. I find this very useful and meaningful in the tricky process of reaching our goals. Kudos to all of you. Long live Uplifters. Spread Love.”

“There is no harm in trying. See for yourself how Uplifters can help you to build and guide your goals.”

Meet Julie Ann Tabigne, Uplifters’ alumni from the Philippines. She has been working in Singapore as a domestic worker for the past seven years.

“I decided to move to Singapore because I knew it would be easier for me to achieve my dreams. I am a single mother and it was hard for me to leave my only son but I endured the longing and homesickness to give him and my family a better future. I want them to have a better life, and working abroad was the only way to make it happen.

My family is simple, they live in a coastal area and my father is a fisherman. My mother is a housewife and I have four siblings. Two of them have their own families and two are still going to school.

I saw Uplifters on my Facebook feed and it kept reappearing. I hesitated signing up because I did not know anything about it. When my close friend enrolled, she told me that it was a very good platform that helps fellow domestic workers learn more about personal growth and financial management. I became eager to try it so I clicked the send message button on their Facebook page to sign up.

I enrolled in Dare to Dream in February, and it helped me get through this time of uncertainties. It lit the fire of eagerness to study again. It was a great way to improve myself. I learned a lot of things, especially about handling finances and dealing with the people around me. It helped me to believe in myself again. I also finished the Become a Leader course in July and facilitated my third batch of students.

Before, I never knew how to handle my money properly. I did not know where my money went. It seemed to have gone with the wind in an instant, and then I did not know what to do. I kept giving money to people and granting all their requests, then at the end of the day, I was broke. I was so kind and generous that people were taking advantage of me. I did not want that to happen again, so now I think of my own future first because nobody will do it for me. I am slowly building my savings and trying to invest in a small business that will help me once I decide to go home for good.

My motto that I would like to share with my fellow women is “Dream, believe and make it happen.” When we dream something for ourselves we need to believe it with all our heart and work hard to make them all come true. I share my poems on the Facebook groups Migrant Writers of Singapore and Horizons: home for talented migrant workers. Through writing, I can express my emotions and let it be heard. Sometimes we do not know who will we inspire.

My advice to my fellow domestic workers is to click the send message button in the Uplifters’ page. There is no harm in trying. See for yourself how Uplifters can help you to build and guide your goals. Maybe this is the answer to all your questions about why you still have not started building your savings and eventually you will realize you need to gain more confidence in yourself. I was so timid before. I was afraid of people but now I am rocking the virtual world to tell you the importance of believing in yourself because nobody will do it for you, it’s just you.”

“We need people to remind us that life may be difficult, but the difficulties are just temporary.”

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

Joan Santillan Amurao is one of the graduates of our April 2020 batch. She is from Caloocan City, Philippines and a mother of two lovely daughters ages 21 and 11.  She has been working in Johor Bahru, Malaysia for the past ten years.  

“Uplifters helped me to be more focused to make my goals come true. I am now financially stable. I have more savings.  I was also able to help my siblings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I joined Uplifters to gain and enhance my knowledge of money management and personal growth.  For me, Uplifters offers a user-friendly medium for learning. I love the chatbot, Robot Joy. The platform is very easy to navigate, plus the team leaders and my classmates are very approachable. I enjoyed the course and learned a lot at the same time.

Before, I was a little too generous with spending my money. Dare to Dream made me stricter in managing my money.  I plan and calculate how much I can spend in advance before buying anything.

In my free time, I am a volunteer transcriber and translator on YouTube. I have my own YouTube channel called “Prinzest Joan.” My content is basically all about life and poetry. I love gardening and taking care of pets too. I enjoy singing and composing my own Christian songs. My dream is to publish a poetry book. For the time being, I am gathering more ideas, and I write during my free time.

To my fellow domestic workers, I salute you all for your great sacrifice and love for your family. Indeed, being a foreign worker is a noble job. We don’t know what lies ahead in our workplace; we don’t know whether we are going to be lucky with our employer or not.  I would like to encourage you all to keep praying. Homesickness and depression are common problems of migrant workers. I would like to advise you all to have a good friend or family member to share your burdens with. Surround yourself with people that have a positive mindset. Avoid friends who will bring you down.  We need people to remind us that life may be difficult, but the difficulties are just temporary.  Do something that will make you happy. If you need a friend to listen to you, I am just a chat away.

To those who have recently enrolled in Dare to Dream, this is a great start. Keep on learning and apply everything you have learned in your life. Always focus on your dream board. Don’t stop learning. Practice the morning and evening rituals because they are essential to have a positive outlook in life. Enjoy learning, and don’t be pressured.” 

“Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it to happen and take steps to make it happen.”

Today we turn the spotlight on Ester Vargas, Uplifters’ first-team leader from Dubai.  She grew up in Tondo, Manila but settled down in Lapulapu City, Cebu. She has ten years of work experience in accounting and previously worked for SHARP Philippines Corporation. She describes herself as a business-minded person and a proud mother to four children.

“My small restaurant business was bankrupt and I couldn’t bear the pain of losing it. I was buried in debt and the savings intended for my children’s education were all used up. Though I never wanted to leave them, I needed to find a way to start anew and recover the losses. My sister invited me to come to Dubai for a visit and check it out.

I was scrolling through Facebook one time and saw Uplifters ads. I had just finished a caregiving and culinary course. I really love to learn but since the pandemic started, the schools have been closed. I am supposed to take the IELTS review since I am planning to move to Canada. So with nowhere to go and nothing to do, I thought that joining Uplifters would keep me busy. While waiting for the September opening of “Dare to Dream”, I also became active in the Facebook group Horizons: Home for Talented Workers in Hong Kong founded by team leader Ody Munson. I wrote poems and short stories, a talent that I only discovered during the pandemic. I find it to be the perfect platform to release my anxieties. I feel better each time I write my thoughts and feelings.

Uplifters taught me how to make blueprints on my dream boards. The budget plan is the tool that I needed to make my dreams a reality. The best thing I learned from Uplifters was to save ahead monthly for a specific number of years so that I will hit my target. While I’m in the middle of the Dare to Dream course, I learned about investing in life insurance and mutual funds. It was eye-opening to realize how important it would be to protect my family in case something happened to me at work. Thanks to what I’ve learned, I now have life insurance for my family. My children will receive a certain amount of money that they can use to continue their education even in my potential absence.

Before Uplifters, I was a carefree individual and used to buy things that I didn’t need. After Uplifters, I became a responsible and wise spender and learned how to be content with what I have. The clothes I wear, the food I eat and my activities, I tried to make them simple and within my budget and I began to invest my hard-earned money in mutual funds and insurance. I no longer do impulsive shopping and overspending anymore and I leave my ATM card in my room when I go out.

I feel more fulfilled now because though I have a change in my career, I can still do the thing that I love most. It’s always my passion to help people. I’m active in the missionary programs of our church in the Philippines, such as sharing the gospel to those who are in unreachable places like in the mountains without roads.

Being a team leader at Uplifters, I can still help even while I am inside the solitude of my room. The most fulfilling thing that I like about being a team leader is that I can support them and listen to their stories. I always get emotional when they open up about their hardships and their personal family problems. I need to be strong and give them wise suggestions, but deep inside I feel like bursting into tears. I also like that I can teach them how to manage their finances the right way so when they go home for good, they won’t go back empty-handed. I enjoy being silly with the students and laughing with them to help relieve stress. I’m now more active in the Filipino community here in Dubai. I’m the community coordinator in my area, in charge of facilitating the relief goods for distressed workers. I would like to share my motto to everyone, “Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it to happen and take steps to make it happen.” 💛💛💛