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Inside life as a domestic worker in Singapore

It’s 5.30am in the morning, I wake up by the sound of my alarm clock that I set last night. My employer asked me to wake up about 6am to start my work, but I wake up 30 minutes earlier so I could have enough time to prepared whatever I need to do in the morning. Only on Monday morning I Sometimes wake up around 5am when I saw so many dirty dishes from Sunday night to be clean. Sunday is my only day off in a week, but sometimes my employer cooking at home for the family and when I come back there is pretty much dishes to be clean if they didn’t clean up after. My employer not asking me to clean up when they see me back home, instead they telling me to clean up tomorrow because today is still my day off. But juts being me, sometimes I clean up right away if I am not tired or I will get up more early to clean tomorrow before I started my MONDAY work. There is still sacrifice from my self, but if I am lucky when there is no dishes to be clean I could wake up at my normal  schedule. πŸ™‚

I count myself as the Lucky domestic helper, I have very good employer that treat me like their family. We eat the same foods at the same table, they support me for what I want to do in the future, they let me have “ME” time for myself. Is a give and take relationship. But how about the unlucky one?

With the big dreams and new hope most of us coming to Singapore want to earn higher and stable income to provide and give a better life for their family back home. But, for that they need to sacrifice a lots. Leaving their homeland and family to living somewhere across the country just to taking care of another family. Is not easy is hard, there will be  a homesick coming a long.

A road to come in Singapore is not easy as well, do you think we just fly from our country and than working in one of those family here? maybe “Yes” if we are already an ex or direct hired, but “No” if we are the first timer that hold a big dreams to come to this country. Most of us are poor, we had not been even explore our own area and country let alone coming to another country. That’s way the Term agency are exist. Whether they are a bunch of greedy people or a Saint maybe, we mostly doesn’t care at first. As long we could come to Singapore and get a job here we listen what they have to said or follow and agreed whatever paper they give us to sign.

Are we being naΓ―ve? stupid? or just our good intention and the promises to have better future closed our mind that left us with no choice except to follow and accept what the agent asked us to do. From willing to be quarantine for few months just to learn English and some training skill before we are ready to fly in Singapore and to paid so much debt that we didn’t really know the breaking fees or expenses. Most first timer at least having 6 to 8 months salary deduction to paid all of the debt that they owed from the agency. Our salary range now are between $600-$900 monthly, and if you are lucky you will get your own food allowance too, ranging from $200-$300 on top of your basic salary. During the deduction period we only have pocket money around $50-$100 per month until we finish our debt. From those amount we need to divided, how much we need to keep for our expenses monthly and how much we need to send back home for the family. Sometimes we send all if our employer very good,  providing us everything so we don’t need to buy anything else. Sometimes we didn’t send at all during those period if we are unlucky enough having not that good employer. We used for our own need until we finish our debt. Our heart was break knowing that we can’t send some money for our family for quite  sometimes.

There is a good and bad employer, same as well there is a good and bad domestic worker too. Me and my employer I could categorise as an example for a good and lucky one. πŸ™‚ What kind of Bad employer are they? They employer that doesn’t treat their helper right, abused them ( verbally and physically), didn’t provide the domestic needs just like the mandatory asked to do, I could said is a bad employer. And the Domestic helper that destroy or break the Employer trust is the bad one.

Isn’t we already have a lots in our plate from just our self, family and the employer? Beside all of that there is other challenge called Society that JUDGED us and the way how they see us and our job. The good one they will understand our sacrifice and act compassionately towards us also treat us the same.

But, how if we found the Ugly one??? From Uneducated, Poor, and Dirty those are some few words that they used to called us and those words that force us to put label on our self  “I am just a maid” in our society. Do I agreed with those label? Some part of ME say “Yes” because that was actually us and that is our job and our source income. But, the other part of ME said “no” especially when it comes to some words that they used to called and describe us. How come we are stupid if we able to communicate with the society here and perform our task as we didn’t speak English as the first language in our country? Some even can pick up some Chinesse languange if they have a job to taking care elderly.  A part of that we learn everyday, from cooking the dishes that we never even know back home until we are able to cooked almost like the celebrity chef ;), clean up and taking care of the house just like the hotel does ( clean, neat and organised whenever your are coming home), iron our employer clothes nearly like the laundry and dry cleaning did, taking and nursing the kids or elderly so they don’t have to worried when our employer doing their 9 to 5 work. Not even count the skill that some of us have including, sewing, baking, or another things. And all of those ability that we able to do yet some of them called us stupid. Because most of us didn’t go to university  or even attend a school in our country, doesn’t mean we are stupid. We are self learning more than most of people does probably including learning how to adjust with the new culture and environment that we work in. Looking back at their homeland, most of domestic helper have finish their college or even some attend a university but the circumstance force us to give up our dream to support our family back home.

And what make them called us that we are poor? Because we come in Singapore and have the lowest paid or because we work for people that somehow own a whole of us. Isn’t those are the same when the rest of society still working for another company as an employee? They still paid you for a living. The difference is only the paycheck that we get. And probably if you work in a company they let you be creative, you could used the extra skill you have and if you are a smart person, is a bonus for you, you will get a promotion. But, Not for us. Most of the time we need to switch or hide our personality and talent that we have back home the moment we work to our employer. If we are smart sometimes we need to pretend to be stupid when we found a narrow minded employer because no matter what they think they are superior. We need to be ugly if we are pretty because we don’t want our Madam jelous towards us. We need to put our brave and friendly face no matter what problem we have in front of our employer and keep doing our task. We have a pair of hand that under control by our employer somehow  and our emotion too.

And the dirty words, Is it because we wear clothes that have some stains from our cooking to prepared a good and healthy meal? Or Is it because our sweat from cleaning and scrubbing our employer house most of the day? One day, my condomonium security was approached me just because I am swiming at the pool with the kids that I am taking care of.  Their safety is my responsibility and my employer allow me to go to the pool when I am with the kids or even when I want to for myself. But is not always the same minded with some of the residence in our condominium. We do clean our self, we bath at least twice but if we found a stingy employer we bath one is enough. Because water is expensive here.  Also, when we taking care children we become extremely clean and hygiene.

Those jugdemental and discrimanation are a lots for us. Will it be nice if we treat each other the same way? But most of us still  face the discrimination in a public. Even simple things like having a seat on a public transport, even though we paid the same amount as the rest of them but still sometimes they reserved the seat only for the citizen of the country first ( there is no rules that write about that). When we are buying some foods outside, sometimes they didn’t greet us with a friendly service. They forgot that we are the customer that bought their product so they could have a profit and keep the bussiness running. Instead they only see us “just A maid” and didn’t serve us warmly. 😦

When we have a problem, we told our family back home if we are lucky we have access for that or when our employer understanding and care for us We could shared our problem and they give us some opinion or willing to listen. But, if not we just cry alone in our room if we lucky too, to have our own room, and just be strong again to keep going and continue to work. Our friends here are our family, we shared story and we support each other. But not all are good too, is a normal human being.

What I hope are, at least the rest of people here could treat us just like a normal human being with no discrimination. We are all the same and we will feel good if we are nice to each other.  Just a simple smile to us is made our day. πŸ™‚

Hugs πŸ€—



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