Who are you?

A hard-working and responsible person.
I’m 47 years old, Filipina. My father passed away when I was 16 years old. We were 7 siblings, 3 still alive today (the other ones died young) and I was the oldest and only girl.
I have two children, a 27 year-old daughter and a 25 year-old son. My son is married, and I am the happy grandmother of a 3 year-old baby.
I only have vocational education, I was trained as a caregiver in the Philippines.

Why did you decide to become a migrant domestic worker?

It was 10 years ago in 2007. Since 2000, I was a street vendor,  selling vegetables in small plastic bags (tomatoes, garlic, onions) in the street close to the highway. Then the owner of the field behind built a public market and I got my own market stall and I was doing well, I was also selling coconut grind and coconut water. But the government built another bigger public market and then the competition was too strong. I borrowed money, but I realized I could not make it, so I took care-giving classes in the afternoon and I flew to the Middle East to work as a nanny but I stayed there only 6 months and in 2008 I went to Singapore.

How did your financial situation evolve over time?

The first 6 months in Singapore I had to pay back the agency fees to my employer so I had barely any money left. My employer would give me $20 SGD (15 USD) per month, sometimes $40 SGD (30 USD).
Now, I am supporting my mother including her medication costs and my nephew education. He is taking care of my mother after school in return. I am also building my house and saving $300 SGD (220 USD) per month for my business project (restaurant or vegetable wholesale and retail). My children are financially independent, but I don’t want to depend on them in the future.

Can you please tell us about your life as a domestic worker? How difficult was it to adjust to your new life?

I did not like it in the Middle East, I could not adapt to the culture, the weather, the food. 
In Singapore, my first employers were Chinese. Very nice family, always kind with me. I worked with them for 4 years and then I changed for an expat family, but I am still friends with my first employers on Facebook.
I stayed with my second employers’ family for 6 years taking care of their two children from birth like if they were my own.
I’ve liked a lot working for them and it has been really hard for me to leave them. I was really attached to their children and I still miss them very much. But I am getting better, my new employers are nice with me and appreciate my work.

 What do you like, don’t like about your employers? Any advice to give to employers in general?

My previous employers were generous, they helped me to uplift myself and to learn how to manage my money better.
My request to employers would be to give us privacy and respect us as human beings.

What do you when you make a mistake at work? And how would like your employer to react?

I always acknowledge my mistake, apologize and say that I would be extra careful next time. What I would like my employers to do is to keep calm and don’t shout at me.

For you, happiness is….

To be happy to do my work, with some peace of mind.

What is your favourite activity on a day off?

Volunteering, learning new things. Going out with friends.

Interviewed in October 2017 and edited by Marie Kretz Di Meglio