Portrait of Domestic Workers Becoming Photographers

Meet three talented domestic workers who were attracted to photography out of nowhere and soon became passionate about it. These dedicated women saved for months to invest in a camera and so learnt about an interest which gradually became their passion.

Yanthi, Eni and Sugi were the official photographers for our one year anniversary party in Singapore.

Yanthi

I’m Yanthi from Central Indonesia. I am 46 years old. I have 2 brothers and two sisters and I am the youngest in the family. My father was a farmer & my mother is a housewife. Sadly my father passed away last year.

I’ve been working in Singapore for 20 years for the same employer. I have learned so much with my employer. When I arrived, I didn’t know how to speak English and I felt so lonely.

To overcome these overwhelming feelings, I took some English courses and also studied computer & entrepreneurship at Aidha. The English course helped me to communicate better with my employers and their kids. I realised how I love to learn new things; it feels like I am upgrading myself!

To stay with one employer is great because you don’t have to adapt yourself over and over again. The best thing my employer did for me is to allow me to study & upgrade myself.

When I first arrived, I didn’t have a day off for 2 years. After 2 years, my employers gave me a day off every Sunday. I used this time to study and do some volunteering work. I don’t really like to spend time doing nothing. My motto is keep learning and don’t give up.

To stay with the same employer, it is a must to develop a good relationship between the two parties. Both employer and employee need to be understanding and accept the weaknesses and the strengths of the other.

I’ve been passionate about photography since high school. I learnt by myself by capturing people, friends or nature. The more your take photos, the better you become. I started to use a digital camera (DSLR) after I graduated from Aidha. There, I learnt about budgeting and saving so I managed to save enough to buy my Nikon D5200 in 2012. It took me 2 years to save up to buy my digital camera. I joined a group of photography events because I could not afford to go on a photography course.

In order to photograph models, you need to make sure to dress the models nicely. They need to have neat makeup and hair styles. Then, you need to find a good environment so the whole picture is beautiful. Also, you need to make sure the model knows how to pose naturally. The model needs to understand what the photographer wants in the first place. This collaboration is essential to make good photos.

These are professional Indonesian models wearing beautiful dresses. I love the background as it contrasts in color and shape with the models’ dresses.

I love to capture people; for me the human body is beautiful, that’s why I love to capture models.

Aidha changed my life for the better because I learned about budgeting, how to use a computer, how to be more confident and how to start a business. Before I joined Aidha, I loved spending but since I graduated, I really love saving.

I heard about Uplifters from Ms Marie. I met her at Aidha when I did some volunteering work for them. Uplifters is really good. Like Aidha, they are helping FDW (Foreign Domestic Workers) learn how to save, become more confident and so much more. I hope Uplifters can encourage more FDW to learn as their courses are online and easily accessible.

Eni

My name is Eni. I am from Indonesia and I’m 33 years old. I am a single mother with a 4 year-old son. My mother is looking after him. I entrusted my mother to be his second mom to teach him how to behave and respect others. I’ve been working in Singapore for the past 10 years.

I started photography in August last year. I bought myself a camera for my birthday. I started to hang out with my friends taking pictures of them and it gradually became my passion.

During my day off, I ask my friends if I can take pictures of them. I love to capture their smile, laughter and happiness. It gives me a positive mindset to look at their pictures.

I heard about Uplifters from my friend. She said it was very useful to know about money management and empowering oneself. I could see how happy she was during the course; she said it changed her life and she became more motivated. Because she liked it so much, I decided to join the course. After I finished the 3 week class, I realised how it really helped me to track my expenses and I could start to plan for my dream, as well as increase my savings too. I feel so happy today with all the things I learnt from it. I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to enrol in this course. Now, thanks to Uplifters, I start to manage my salary, I have a clear vision of my future and I’m more confident. Thank you Uplifters!

If I had a message for other domestic workers it would be: Don’t limit yourself to just look at something that makes you happy; give yourself full support to reach your dreams, learn more and don’t give up!

This is one of my favorite pictures. I love their smiles. They look so united and the colours of their dresses give me such a positive energy!

Sugi

My name is Sugiarti Mustiarjo, I’ve been working in Singapore as a domestic worker for 18 years. Despite having independent brothers and sisters, I still send money to my parents every now and then.

I started photography 3 years ago when I bought a digital camera as a birthday present to myself. I attended a photography workshop with Aidha and Lensational. Before I bought my camera, I used to take pictures with my phone as a way to keep memories alive.

My tips to other domestic workers would be: keep reminding yourself the first reason you’re here, it’s okay to express yourself, share your passion, be creative but keep in mind that your work is the most important thing, surround yourselves with positive activities and positive people. Stay safe.

I learned about Uplifters through Facebook and I thought it was a good opportunity for domestic workers as their courses are free and online.

This picture was taken in Koh Samui, Thailand. This is where my dream of ”seeing the world” started, on this tiny island where my journey of life began.

I have a soft spot for black and white photography.

This picture was taken during a migrant poetry competition in 2017. This woman won the competition. I edited the photo with double composition format. This was my first “official photographer“ engagement.

 

Depending on whether you have money or not, there is no limit when you are passionate about something. These women have sacrificed months of wages to meet their thirst for learning and that has led them to a new, exciting and beautiful path.

Thank you to these three talented ladies for sharing their expertise at an Uplifters event!

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