Who are you?
I think of myself as an ordinary girl dreaming of the extraordinary. I am 30 years old, single and I come from the Philippines, the south-eastern part of Davao.
Why did you decide to become a migrant domestic worker?
I started working in Hong Kong 4 years ago because life in my country is too hard. Even with a nice job and good education, the salary is not high enough in the Philippines.
I graduated with a bachelor degree in finance management that took me 4 years to complete. I realized soon that my salary would never be enough to pay off the debts my parents contracted to send me to university and make a better living for all of us.
I’ve decided to work abroad not for my own sake but for my family’s as my parents are not financially stable. Since then I’ve been dreaming of how I can uplift my family from poverty.
How did your financial situation evolve over time?
My father got sick one year after my departure to Hong Kong and had to undergo two operations (because of his intestines/kidney). I didn’t know where to look for money. In order to save my father’s life, I had no other option but to borrow money from a “bank” (note: a lending agency for migrant workers).
I borrowed 25 000 HKD (about 3200 $USD) and paid back 3700 $HKD (about 475 $USD) for 8 months (note: total payment is almost 30 000 $HKD / interest rate: 20%). My salary at that time was 4110 $HKD per month so I could not save any money as well.
So far, the operations were successful and after two years in Hong Kong I had managed to repay my debts and my father was alive so I didn’t care that I had no savings.
Can you tell us about your life as a migrant domestic worker?
What did you like or not like about your employers?
What I like about my present employers is that they are kind and they treat me like I am part of their family. They are not selfish. And this may not seem much, but this is really important to me that they always give me my salary on time.
I don’t dare ask them that I would like to start my day 30 minutes later or finish 30 minutes earlier.
What I didn’t like about my previous employer is when they talked badly about their previous helpers and warned me not to do the same as they did. Of course, I understood but I would have liked them to trust me and not always believe I will misbehave.
What is your favourite activity on a day off?
For you, happiness is…
What are you most proud of?
What are your dreams and hopes for the future?
To uplift my family from poverty and no longer live abroad away from my family.
To have my own family and business and live a happy life in the Philippines.
Interviewed in October 2017 and edited by Marie Kretz Di Meglio