We are very proud to feature one of Uplifters’ amazing Diamond Team Leaders, Elli Verdol Libre. She is from the Philippines and a proud mother of three children.
Our Diamond Team Leaders have facilitated 10 sessions of our 3-week online course Dare to Dream on money management and personal growth.
Read more about her in this excerpt from our interview:
“My friends call me Elli. I am 41 years old. I was born and raised in Caloocan City in the Philippines, but my children are now living with their father in Pangasinan province. I have been working here in Singapore for almost a decade. I came here on January 26, 2011.
After my father died in 2009, life became very difficult, especially my financial .situation I kept forcing my husband to find a job so we could support our children in their everyday needs, but he seemed content with what we had at that time. So I made the difficult decision of sacrificing time with my children to work abroad in order to give them a better future. It was a difficult decision to move to Singapore when my youngest child had just turned three.
Homesickness is the number one challenge I faced. Even while I was still in the Philippines and processing my documents, I already felt homesick. When I finally arrived in Singapore, a tremendous feeling of loneliness came over me. I asked myself how I am going to handle being alone here for the rest of my 2-year contract. But because it is for my children’s future, I endured everything.
The first five years were so difficult. I only had one or two days off per month from 10 am to 5 pm only. I felt that it was not enough because I was busy working for six days in their home. I had a bad experience being looked down on by my first employer, monitoring how much food I was eating, and my sleep schedule from 11 PM and waking up at 5 AM. The worst for me was when their sons did not respect me. But thankfully, things changed when I began working for my current employer, and everything has run smoothly. It is a busy household, but they treat me like a family member, and there is trust, honesty and appreciation in our home. I could not ask for more.
On my days off I like going to the non-profit organisation https://www.aidha.org/. I graduated from their course last year, but I continue to go to the campus to assist and guide the new students. I am like their big sister. I also volunteer during their events. I am one of the ambassadors for Help Her Do Better and attend their yoga classes and mentor students.
When I feel homesick, I call my kids and talk to them. That’s my best cure. Apart from that, I have been helping some of my friends who have issues with their employer, giving them advice, making them laugh and forget their worries. I love doing it. I make myself busy with different things, like sewing, gardening and playing with the daughter of my employer.
I learned about Uplifters when my mentor at Aidha posted their link on our group chat. He asked us if we wanted to join their free online course. I was curious about it and found the Dare to Dream course quite exciting as it is connected to some of the lessons in Aidha. I continued and became active in the class chat with my fellow members.
The course helped me to be patient and have a deep understanding of every negative situation that happens in everyday life. Being in Uplifters, I learned to always see the positive side of things. Uplifters has made a big impact on my life as a foreign domestic worker (FDW). I became closer to many FDWs in Singapore. I became more committed to my responsibilities to help mentor and guide students.
If I have to pick an image to illustrate my life before Uplifters and my life after having done the course, I would choose a flower that has not bloomed yet. I was not able to see the beauty of the world around me. After Uplifters, I became a fully bloomed flower, ready to show everyone my capacity and ability to give support and encouragement.
The people around me also saw that I have changed. I notice that so many women are approaching me, telling me they admire how I carry myself. Even those who did not like me before have become my close friends once they got to know me.
Being an Uplifters’ team leader helped me to see my value and gain self-confidence that I did not have before. I enjoy talking to our members and encouraging them to do all the things that we have learned in the online course. I am thrilled every time I see them finish the course and hearing them say thank you at the end of every batch.
Yes, of course, I am proud of being a domestic worker, but I don’t want to be a domestic worker for the rest of my life.
Thinking about the future, I want to get a degree so I could become qualified in the hospitality industry, which I really love. I am planning to take a business management course in the university here in Singapore that will be accredited by any company that I will apply to. Apart from that, I want to take my children with me wherever I will go. I want to be with them again.
I am grateful for the people who have inspired me. The first person is the Egyptian wife of my second employer. She is a very strong woman who fights for the rights of every woman in her country. She is the founder of an organisation that fights against women’s violations and harassment. She is the one who taught me to stand for my rights. Second is Simon Sinek, the author of multiple bestselling books and a motivational speaker. Being optimistic is one of the things I like about him. His books guide me to become a good leader.
My advice to women who are struggling is to always see the positive side. Don’t count all the bad and negative things that happened to us; instead, count all the good things. There is always a rainbow after the rain. I would also like to share my favourite motto, “Help yourself, you will feel happiness, but help others, you will feel fulfilled.”