Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Foreign Workers Have Needs and Dreams Too

During my mother-in-law’s recent hospital stay, I was glad to have the help of one Indonesian domestic helper Yati.

Many of the nurses in the geriatric wards are from the Philippines and China. The young doctors who attended to her are either from India or China. My mother-in-law has difficulty communicating with the healthcare staff in her dialect. She was able to communicate with Yati in Malay language.

During my mother-in-law’s week long stay, Yati helped with the feeding sometimes, wiping her drool and keep her company during our absence. Several patients in the ward have their domestic helpers by their sides. These caregivers will stay with them during their hospitalisation. Some of them are almost as good as the trained nurses as they go about their chores of looking after their elderly charges.

Looking healthy and cheerful, Yati has been taking care of a 84 year-old lady who has dementia for the past 6 years. I am impressed by her tender loving care for her charge as she treats her just like her own mother. Yati is 27, married to a farmer in Jawa Timur and has two young children whom she misses very much. Fortunately for her, she has a caring employer who treats her like a family member. Although she is given a day off every week, Yati seldom takes a break as she prefers to save her money for her family back home.

Yati was a great help to the overstretched nurses in our ward as she would sometimes help with the feeding of the patients or helping them adjust the beds so they could rest comfortably.

In the same ward was another Indonesian maid Tong who looked malnourished and exhausted. She was timid and kept to herself. Her employer was a fierce middle-aged lady who often raised her voice at her. When any maid tried to befriend Tong, her employer would glare at them or scold them.

We observed that her employer only give her bread or leftovers from her meals. Whenever her employer was asleep, some of us or the nurses would secretly slipped some food and drinks to her.

P1010074

Through the limited conversation Yati had with Tong, we learnt that she is only 19 and comes from a small village in Surabaya. She has been here for only 10 months. Not used to our lifestyle here and the tiring working hours, she is homesick and a little depressed. Worried for her, Yati secretly gave Tong her contact number.

These domestic helpers have left their families and country to work in a foreign land, often heavily saddled with debts. Many of them are away from home for the first time. They can only count on luck to find a caring employer whom they have to live with for at least two years. They should be treated as fellow humans with needs and dreams just like you and I.



16 comments:

  1. having "friended" many Philipino people who work as nurses and doctors in other countries, i have been impressed with the attitudes they have and share with others in their adopted lands. Of course this country (USA) seems to have a continual struggle with people from other countries coming here and i think it is silly not to welcome them. People become frighten easily of something "different".

    ReplyDelete
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    1. So far, many of the Filipino people I meet (those working as salesgirls, waitresses, doctors and nurses) in Singapore have good service attitudes.

      My government has just announced our population to grow to 7 million in 2030 and half of them will be foreigners. It didn't go down well with Singaporeans because they become frighten. But we have to welcome the new citizens.

      The new citizens support the older ones via the taxes they contribute, which are then used to pay for the various social and public services. This is what I am doing right now and our current senior citizens are the beneficiaries.

      When the time comes when I reach retirement age, it will be these new citizens and foreigners supporting me. Without them...our local born citizens (i.e. our children) will be overburdened by the increasing number of old citizens like me.

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  2. It's true that some foreign workers and maids are hard working and deserve to be treated well, but I find a lot of them are horrible. Heard so many horror stories about Indonesia maids here in Malaysia from close friends and relatives!!

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    1. I hired a total of 1 Sri Lankan and 6 Indonesian maids to take care of my elderly parents-in-law. Everyone gave me headaches but I have to tolerate because they do help to lessen my burden of caring for the elders.

      They lied, they stole from me, they physically abused my young son and fragile parents-in-law behind my back, but what could I do when I need them badly? I hope by treating them well, they would not go overboard. During these 20 years that I need to have a maid, I live in fear and uncertainty. I wish I had better luck with every new maid. :(

      Delete
  3. But I also feel bad for those maids who are badly treated by their employers.

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    1. I have helped a couple of abused maids in my neighbourhood. They are really pitiful. I cannot understand how some employers can be so mean and cruel to another human being.

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  4. Such devoted people are hard to find ! But when they are employed they have the same rights then the Belgians, but if they work in "black" some people are really exploiting them it is a shame !

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    1. I envy the employers who are lucky to get such devoted helpers. It's not easy to work in 'black' in Singapore because our labour laws are very strict, not worth the risk. :P

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  5. i feel sorry for Tong but yea, it happens all the time, even a lot of cases in Malaysia. Aiyo, i'm now unemployed leh, somehow must sneak into SG to work as Malaysian Maid! LOL

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There are probably more unreported cases of abuse, wondering how to help these victims and not get hurt myself. :P

      An agency in Singapore is bringing in 30 male domestic workers trained in caregiving from Myanmar by the end of next month. You can apply wor. :)

      Delete
  6. Have heard stories of many Filipino caregivers and domestic helpers being seriously maltreated by employers in other countries. Statistics of maltreatment is high in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries. My heart breaks for this helpless overseas workers who only wants to help their needy families. Had the chance to talked to some Filipno workers in SG when we were there. Haven't heard of anyone complaining. I only saw happy faces! Happy for them!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Over the years, there were only a few such cases in Singapore and the details revealed in court was truly horrific.

      Fortunately for domestic helpers, most employers in Singapore treat them well, we are worried they would 'fire' us. LOL

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  7. What a moving story! Yes everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.

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    1. Thanks Sukhmandir.

      Yes, we should treat EVERYONE with dignity and respect. Like.

      Delete
  8. I hire the same domestic helper Emma for 18 years, she retired to the Philippines after my youngest son went overseas for his studies.

    She was a great help, looking after my mother-in-law and my 3 young children. I was helping out in my husband's factory and both of us worked irregular hours.

    Having a good helper ensures that I am able to work at ease and that my children have someone to come home to and have warm meals. When they are sick, Emma was there to bring them to the doctor immediately.

    Emma was like an older sister to me. We did not treat her as a hired help, she was also our family. We still keep in touch, she is going to be a grandmother next year. I might fly over to visit.

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    1. It is always good to hear touching stories of trustworthy and dedicated helpers. Emma is a rare gem.

      Excuse me, I think there is maybe a typo error on Emma becoming a grandmother next year, it is only February now. :P

      My sincere good wishes to Emma on her coming new addition to the family.

      Delete

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