We turn the spotlight on Dena Lorenzana, one of Uplifters’ Diamond Team Leaders.  Our Diamond Team Leaders have facilitated 10 sessions of our 3-week online course Dare to Dream on money management and personal growth.

Dena is from Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines. She has three children ages 36, 35 and 33. She has been working in Singapore for 30 years.

“I left home at a young age to move to Manila to study because we did not have enough money, I became a working student. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish my studies because of financial difficulties. In 1990, I moved to Singapore so I could send my children to school and provide a better life for them.”

Her work did not stop her from pursuing education, something that she is proud to have inculcated in her children.

“I’ve always been passionate about studying. I am always looking for courses that can help me develop and upgrade my skills. In my spare time, I love volunteering as a student supervisor at Soha Institute where I help organize CPR and First Aid lessons conducted by the Singapore Defence Force. I also volunteer as a nursing aide at a nursing home in Singapore for eight hours on Sundays. I wanted to become a nurse when I was young. I like learning about therapy, health, and taking care of the elderly. My friends say that I could have been a good doctor or nurse. I am very proud of myself when I got my diploma from an online course in London in March 2017. I know that it brought my father so much joy to see his daughter get a diploma. To this day, I feel that he has waited for my good news before he passed away a few days after I completed the course.”

It was not easy working abroad. When I first moved to Singapore, I felt very homesick. I’ve missed my children very much. There were no smartphones when I moved away and I wasn’t able to chat or video call. I remember feeling sad as I waited for the postman to arrive and got fewer mails as the years went by. During my first few years here, I became sick and realized that it is one of the hardest parts of working abroad. Getting sick alone with no relatives to help you was hard. What was harder for me, was when my employment agency got mad at me and belittled me. But I did not give up and I stayed positive and prayed a lot. I am grateful to have a kind and considerate employer who treats me like a family member. I’ve been with them for 20 years. Their children, whose ages are 20, 18 and 14 years old, grew up in my care and are very close to me.

Unfortunately, I have met people who took advantage of me and told me lies so I would apply for a loan to lend them money. It was a sad experience for me because I ended up paying the loan out of my own salary. I am very happy I found Uplifters because the course helped me to focus on myself and to handle money well. It taught me how to say no to family and friends and to save money and plan for the future. As a team leader, I am happy whenever I see my students’ eagerness to learn and when they get their certificates, I feel that it is also my accomplishment. I am grateful to have the opportunity to impart knowledge to my students of all the lessons I have learned. I advise my students to not immediately believe when friends or relatives borrow money from you. Most importantly, save money and have a plan about how long you want to work abroad. Seize every opportunity to learn new things and improve yourself. 

I am proud to say that I have sufficient savings for my retirement. My dream is to own a training centre in the Philippines to help migrant workers like me, especially those who are going to work abroad for the first time. I want to train people to have their own sources of livelihood like farming and baking so that they do not have to leave and work in another country.”