Today we focus the spotlight on Cristina Belingon, one of our Diamond Team Leaders. Our Diamond Team Leaders have facilitated 10 sessions of our signature ‘Dare to Dream’ course on money management and personal growth. Below she shares her empowerment journey as a migrant domestic worker.
Cristina comes from Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines and is 30 years old.
“I have 6 siblings. Most of them are married.
I have been a domestic helper in Singapore for 7 years. On my days off, I attend classes at Aidha School. On Sundays, I often join activities organized by my fellow migrant sisters. Sometimes I go to church, or I meet and have fun with friends.
I came to Singapore in 2015 through an agency. My plan was to buy the land where our house is located and give my parents a comfortable home.”
Cristina explains what her biggest challenge is as a domestic worker.
“For me, the biggest challenge is working without a salary for a long period.
When I arrived in Singapore, I got a monthly deduction from my employer to pay for the expenses to come here. It took me almost 9 months before I got my full salary back, because I transferred to another workplace and it added another month to my salary deduction. Even though it was a difficult period, I continued to pursue my dreams because I didn’t want to go back home for nothing.”
While working in Singapore, Cristina managed to buy the land for her parents.
“I found a way to get that land. I took a loan from our cooperative in our hometown as a down payment. When I was done paying for it, I kept rushing myself to start the house again because I wanted my parents to stay there before they turned 60.
I asked for an advance on my salary from my employer and borrowed some money from my friends to buy the materials for the house.
I did manage to get my two dreams which were the land and the house. But I ended up having some debts.
It stressed me a lot. I couldn’t think properly and focus on my work. I was aware that there was something wrong with my decisions but I couldn’t figure out how to get out at that time.
Cristina found out about Uplifters on Facebook in December 2020, and feels she has learned from her mistakes since:
” I browsed to Uplifters’ page and found out that they were offering a money management course for free. I admitted to myself that I was not good at handling money. Due to my previous experiences and lack of knowledge when it comes to financial matters, this prompted me to join the course.
Thanks to the Dare to Dream course, I learnt the importance of having savings, especially emergency savings which most of us OFW don’t have.
It helps me think about the dreams I want to reach and how to prioritize them. I realize that I do not need to rush, that I have to think of my plans before I start. And those were some of my past mistakes.
As I looked back to the chat group that we were sharing during the course, I am proud to say that the woman who was stressed because of her debts and didn’t know how to manage her financial situation managed to grow mentally and learn from her mistakes.
Now I am able to save money that I will use for my business projects in the future. I learnt to say “NO” to my family for things that were not necessary.
I also value myself and my efforts: in every accomplishment, it’s important to reward yourself.
I continued to practice what I learnt and became a team leader after a few months.
This leads me to know more about my fellow migrant domestic workers.”
Cristina loves the Uplifters’ community, and she took her responsibilities as team leader to heart:
“Those amazing women who came from different countries had a big impact on my life.
We empower each other, which is the best thing we can do, especially since we are all here on foreign soil.
The thought that I was one of those who impacted their lives and taught them these lessons made me even more inspired.
Being a Team Leader is a responsibility and I want to lead by example.
I want them to feel that WE, the UPLIFTERS COMMUNITY, are like their family.
We are all the same. They can learn from us and we can learn from them.”
Cristina is still working hard to fulfil her dream before going back to the Philippines.
“I’m still working and trying my best to save my target amount before I go back home for good. It may take more years of hard work but it’s okay as long as I’m able to get it. My dream is to become an entrepreneur and to have my own business. I want to be successful and to inspire more migrants to learn from their mistakes. But I know that our mistakes are part of our success in the future.
To my fellow MDW who is struggling right now, I want you to know that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes, that if you feel tired, it’s okay to rest. Never give up on your dreams. Never give up on the reasons why you are struggling right now. Always look and think about your purpose and why you come to wherever you are. There’s always time for everything.”