“Continue to find ways to uplift your life.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I received my Dare to Dream certificate in May 2019 and finished Make It Happen in October the same year. I am sure that if I didn’t join Uplifters, I still won’t be able to save and nor achieve my personal goals. My dream is to save for my retirement and I’ve already started saving for it. I’ve joined other classes before and they’re almost the same but Uplifters has had the most positive impact on me as I was able to put my learnings into action.

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

“Dream more, learn more and become more.”

Meet our diamond team leader Syarifitriyah Rahmani or Syafira.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 a 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 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 enrol. 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.

Thank you, 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 favourite memories is selling different products during my younger days. I used to help my mother in making different crafts like mirrors coated with seashells 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 every day to sell to our neighbours. 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.”

“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 on 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 practised 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 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.

Nelly’s story: a lesson in achieving your dreams

Today meet Nelly, one of our fantastic Diamond Team leaders. Nelly is from the Philippines. Her father is a farmer and mother a social worker. They grow their own fruit and vegetables such as bananas, sweet potatoes and casava. Her father also has a coconut farm with his siblings and they sell the produce on the market. 

“I joined Uplifters’ course in January 2019. I had been working in Singapore for 6 years and I had nothing to show for it. I felt I really needed to learn how to save money. I used to send all my money back to my parents and siblings whenever they needed it.

When I started Uplifters’ course I felt very shy, I almost thought of quitting because I wasn’t very comfortable at first. My shyness was holding me back. But I chose to stay and keep on learning and it’s changed my life. 

My sister with my motorbike

When doing Uplifters’ course I started applying the lessons to my own life. I’ve since been able to start building a family house which will have 4 rooms when finished. I’m building it slowly as I also still have to pay for my son’s school. I’ve also bought a motorcycle that my sister is currently using. It was my dream to have one and it’s changed our lives as we live in a remote place. It takes an hour to walk to the nearest town. The motorbike costs Php.75,000 and I’m paying it in instalments over 12 months. It’s a nice feeling to see the results of my hard work, it seems like I’ve finally won!

Reading one of her poems in front of an audience

What I love about Uplifters’ education is that it’s not only about budgeting and money management but also about personal growth. This is so important as it teaches you how to adapt to people around you and inspire others on the way. It also helped me improve my communications skills and taught me how to speak to others confidently. I learnt much more than I expected.

Becoming a Team Leader has also enabled me to share my experience with other domestic workers. It’s not always easy to manage our students, especially those who feel shy or not comfortable with it. I try to deal with those situations by sharing my experience and also saying that I’m just one of them, we are here as one TEAM. My happiest moments as a Team Leader have been watching them get motivated and grow in confidence. 

My goal now is to stay focused and pursue my dreams. I am very thankful; I don’t have a weekly day off and Uplifters was my only chance to study. It really changed my life.” 

Thank you so much Nelly! 

Nelly is one of our Diamond team leaders who’s facilitated 10 sessions of “Dare to Dream”, Uplifters 3-week signature online course on money management and personal growth.

To sign up to Uplifters’ Dare to Dream course, like our Facebook page and click ‘Send Message’. 

The most efficient way to support our work is to become a monthly donor, with only USD 10 (HKD 80) a month, you sponsor 1 hour of online money management and personal development course for a woman like Nelly: donate.

Jhoan’s story: from caterpillar to butterfly

Today meet Jhoan, one of our fantastic Diamond Team leaders. You might have spotted some of her great artwork at the latest Guhit Kulay exhibition last December 2019. Jhoan is from the Philippines and moved to Hong Kong 4 years ago. She has two siblings back home. 

“I moved to Hong Kong to escape a bad relationship. I first had to live in my cousin’s house whilst preparing for this new start. Moving here was a way out and a new opportunity. 

I work here as a domestic helper for a local family of 4, with 2 adults and 2 kids. They’re nice and very supportive of what I do, in terms of my spare time activities and hobbies. The one thing that was hard to adjust to was the workload. During my days off I like doing photography and I also do sketches and drawing, it’s my way of relaxing.

I found out about Uplifters whilst browsing the internet. I joined the course because it’s not just a free money management course but it’s also a personal growth course. That really appealed to me. Uplifters gave me the confidence to do things I was too shy to do before, it dared me to dream bigger. If I had to pick an image to illustrate my life before Uplifters It would be a caterpillar. After Uplifters, I became a butterfly. A butterfly because it represents change, hope and new life. 

Being a team leader has given me the opportunity to develop friendships online. I’ve also become more understanding of other people’s lives and their struggles. I enjoy watching the students complete the challenges and getting their certificate. It feels particularly great hearing them say afterwards that the course helped them and changed their way of handling their hard-earned money.  

This picture illustrates my journey

My dream is to work as a full-time photographer, travel the world and get paid for what I do! I really look up to friends who’ve given up their job and are working full time as a photographer, doing what they love. 

When I feel low, I take a break and pause for a couple of minutes and ask myself why I feel this way, and sometimes I remove myself from the situation and go out by myself for a little while. The motto that keeps me going is “Nothing is permanent. Don’t stress yourself out too much because no matter how bad the situation is, it will change. Your struggle is just a preparation for a better you.”

Thank you Jhoan! 

Jhoan is one of our Diamond team leaders who’s facilitated 10 sessions of “Dare to Dream”, Uplifters 3-week signature online course on money management and personal growth.

To sign up to Uplifters’ Dare to Dream course, like our Facebook page and click ‘Send Message’. 

The most efficient way to support our work is to become a monthly donor, with only USD 10 (HKD 80) a month, you sponsor 1 hour of online money management and personal development course for a woman like Jhoan: donate.