The light in the dark

I am a 37-years-old Filipina woman. I love cooking, taking pictures and writing poems (especially when I’m depressed). I am currently working in Singapore for a very good employer who treats me like family and who is concerned about my feelings. Plus, when there is an emergency, she always responds to my needs. I wish all employers could treat their domestic worker as a family member, meaning they try to understand their weaknesses, teach them what they don’t know for the work requested and are friendly and caring. Also, even if I don’t like talking about my personal life, I feel confident to share my concerns with my employer.

About my family, my parents are divorced and they both found a family of their own. My mother married another man and my father had 3 children with his new wife. I have 2 brothers from the marriage of my parents but one passed away about 2 years ago. I got married a few years ago and we have 3 daughters (12, 10 and 8 years old).

To me, happiness starts from a positive mindset and seeing little  joys in our daily lives. I’ve always been a positive person, even if my story doesn’t have a very good start. I grew up in a broken family because my father left us when we were very young. My mother brought us to her relatives who could give her some help. We went to our father’s family side too but we were a little bit mistreated: I was young and they made me work for them.

When I was in University, I was a victim of sexual harassment by my husband’s father. I never told anyone until I decided to step out of their house.I was telling myself, “don’t make it a problem, as long as nothing happens you just have to be quiet…” but one day I couldn’t stay when he crossed the red line. I decided to tell everything first to my best friend. Telling my husband was realising it had really happened. But I finally told him as I didn’t want it to happen to my kids as well. I always tell them to speak up, hoping they won’t too shy be like me.

My life as a domestic worker is tough and has its ups and downs because I’m away from my family.  But I am strong because I do it for my daughters. I want to give them a better future and I have to  pay the medicine for my second daughter who is asthmatic. I had to borrow money to come to Singapore: it took me 6 months to pay back the agency and then 7 months to pay back all my debts. Now, I can send money to my family: my 3 kids, my husband and my mother but I try to save about SG$ 150 (about $110 USD) per month.

I am so proud of having my kids and standing for what I think is right. I have 2 days off per month so sometimes I help the others domestic workers and bring them to the HOME office (NGO supporting domestic workers in Singapore) or to different nice places in Singapore. Also, I think about launching a business of my own when I return home for good. I want to open a glass business but I have to think about it because there are so many things to consider. I hope too that my kids will finish their studies and have a good job someday!

Interviewed and edited by Chloe Bothorel in May 2018

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