Who are you?

I am Filipina, 44 years old. I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters.
I studied until college, but I didn’t finish it. I was only 18 when I got pregnant with my first child. I’ve had 3 children with my partner, but we broke up when our children were still young.

Why did you decide to become a migrant domestic worker?

I am a single mother, it was the only way to support my children. It was not easy to be away from them because they were all toddlers when I came here to work, but I didn’t have a choice at that time. I’ve been working for 22 years in Singapore.

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

In 22 years abroad, I have always been blessed with very good employers, from local families to expats. I like that they always treated me like family. This is so important for us, domestic workers.
What I like the most is to feel that my employers trust me and that we can chitchat and talk about everything under the sun.

How did your financial situation evolve over time?

It took me 8 months to repay my agency loan. My first employer deducted $300 every month from my $320 salary.

I’ve been supporting my three children who were raised by my mother. Now that my children are all grown-ups with their own families, I only send them money in case of emergency. I am happy that my remittance has always been well-spent.

I save each month $100 SGD and at the end of the year I decide what I want to do with my savings like building my house.

Are there some advice you want to give to all employers? What do you like/don’t like about your employers? Is there something you secretly think but don’t dare asking or say to your employer?

1 piece of advice I want to give to all employers: know your domestic worker. Ask her where she comes from, how she copes working abroad and being away from her loved ones. Understanding your domestic worker will build a good relationship and trust between you and her.

3 things I like about my employers: friendly, thoughtful (they care about me), and they show that they appreciate my work.
There is nothing that I don’t like about them.

What I don’t dare asking them: how much do you like me?

What do you when you make a mistake at work (breaking something for example)? And how would like your employer to react when you make a mistake?

If I make a mistake at work, I will mention it to my employers. It is my fault, so I must bear the consequences. And I hope they will listen and understand me.

For you, happiness is….

Happiness is working without worrying. And also, being able to do what I love to do.

What is your favourite activity on a day off?

Volunteering is my favourite activity on my day off. I am a Helpdesk volunteer to HOME. I like to help my fellow domestic workers by giving them advice if they encounter problems.

How would you to describe yourself?

I am a friendly, easy going person.

What are your dreams and hopes for the future?

I hope to retire early and spend time with my children and grandchildren. But my heart is also in Singapore. Especially now that I am a HOME volunteer.

Interviewed and edited in October 2017 by Marie Kretz Di Meglio