Meet Siti Mujiati, one of our fantastic Diamond Team Leaders. She is from Indonesia and has two beautiful daughters. She has been working in Singapore since 2012.
“I have lived away from my family since I was 15 years old. I left home and went to the city to study and work for many years and only went home once a year. Whenever I am feeling low, I pray, sometimes, I pray until I cry. I always try to count my blessings while I am reciting the Quran. When I first came to Singapore, I struggled with the language barrier. But through the help of my employer I was able to improve my English after one year. The other challenge I have faced, was how to manage my stress as I did not have much freedom at that time. When I first started with my employer, I was only able to speak to my family for ten to fifteen minutes once a month. I wasn’t able to talk to strangers, only my employer’s family. I had to cut my hair very short and wear a uniform. I had to agree to pay for everything that I broke, burned or lost. I was in great stress. I couldn’t even keep my diary and my daughter’s photo. This happened for two years. As a positive person, I tried to pray, even if it was only in my heart because they didn’t allow me to. One day, I asked if I could have a pen and a book so that I could write my thoughts and feelings to release my stress. I am glad that I was brave enough to do so because that pen and book was my saviour. After two years, they loosened the rules a bit and life became more bearable. I was finally able to have my phone on the weekends and could wear nice clothes when I went out. I was able to grow my hair down to shoulder length. I appreciated my employers of six years for patiently teaching me how to work properly and not just sending me back to the agency. As my way of paying back their kindness despite everything, I stayed for six years with a different arrangement. They agreed to let me have a phone every day and take my half-day off every two weeks. They asked me to stay longer and even offered me a much higher salary but it was time for me to think about myself and I chose to leave. I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to handle my anger anymore as Grandma, my employer, was not easy to handle. Finally, they let me go. It was a win-win situation.
On my days off, I always spend my time going to school and to learn a new skill or going to an event or free seminar for domestic workers. I love volunteering for the Centre for Domestic Employees. I love spending a few hours there just to listen to the stories from friends who are facing problems. I give some advice if they need it because sometimes they just need a listening ear. I don’t feel alone whenever I speak to them and I am happy every time I hear them say, ‘Thank you, I feel better now.’ Thanks to Uplifters. I learned how to be an active listener.
Before I joined Uplifters, I did not have any plans. I did not know what my goals and dreams were. I often hesitated planning before but now I am always filled with enthusiasm and optimism. I am equipped with better financial planning and management skills after the ‘Dare to Dream’ course. I enjoy being a team leader because I can keep in touch with wonderful people from the Uplifters team. It’s a positive community where we can share our passions and dreams. I can continue studying all the lessons from our course and share what I have learned to my students. I am happy when I see them managing their budget and becoming a happier person just like me. I want all foreign domestic workers to gain knowledge and feel happy the way I do after joining Uplifters.
My dream is to have my own hydroponic farm so I can provide fresh and healthy vegetables for my neighbourhood. I like it because I won’t need a lot of land for that and I won’t worry about dirt or heat from the sun. I want to encourage the young generation in my hometown about urban farming. I am visualizing a nice farm that would be a great place to take pictures for Instagram, with the green leaves, the sound of the water flowing from pipe to pipe. If my farm goes well, I will open a small garden library cafe by the side. My farm will be next to my parent’s house and they will be able to spend the rest of their lives with a beautiful view and fresh air.
To my fellow domestic workers, your life is not going to end here as a helper, get up and look at the mirror and say this out loud ‘I am amazing, I am beautiful and unbreakable. I can achieve my dreams.’ Be happy and work wholeheartedly, communicate your feelings and dreams with your employer, friends and family. Don’t keep your sadness and difficulties inside your heart. Listen to music or watch a funny video. Exercise, cook, bake, hike. Take a selfie, do whatever you love. Let’s pursue our dreams with a smile and with great planning and reasonable budgeting. Manage our life like a businesswoman. Let’s be grateful for every blessing that we have.
I would like to share my favorite quotation from Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ This quote keeps me unbreakable.