It's a crazy, crazy world out there.
Recently I was introduced to a secret Facebook group (like Bond, James Bond) where erm, employers gather to discuss matters regarding their foreign domestic workers.
Some of the stuff they talk about is so ludicrous I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT - like seriously, where do these people come from?!?!??!
You be the judge.
1) You may not jam
Helper likes strawberry jam, helper asks if she can have strawberry jam to eat with bread for breakfast.
Employer deliberately buys pineapple jam, not because it is cheaper / any other reason but simply because maids should not be allowed to choose what they want to eat.
2) She must always be worse off
For those who are going away for 1-2 weeks, what is your preferred option for your helpers? Would be helpful if you also put the reason for choosing to do so.. Thanks in advance!
1. Stay at home alone
2. Put her in the dormitory
3. Put her at friend's or relatives' place
4. Ask her if she want to go back to her home country
5. Any other options
The very helpful advice she got:
Whichever option you think will make her worse off than working for you. It's a chance for her to be appreciative that she is better off working at my place. I know my in-laws will let her do nothing so I send to the agent and let her work and work.
3) Pageant Judges
It is also very common for employers to post photos of their interested hires into the group to ask the others what they think about their looks,
Apparently, looking too good will not get you hired.
Or if you have a certain type of eyebrows.
4) When it's time for them to go home...
After being with us for two years or more and it's time for them to head home, it's usually a teary affair for most of us as we have come to see (and love) them as a part of our family.
But some spoke about how they can work around contractual responsibilities by simply sending them to their country's international airport and that's it... Without any domestic transfer. (It's so heartless lah! How are they then going to make it to their hometown which can be thousands of miles away?!).
There was also this totally nasty reply which I'm not even sure why / how it garnered 8 likes:
Though these examples are not as terrible as the recent maid abuse case where they starved their helper until she weighed just 29kg (and while there also many great employers around), there is this whole slave mentality mindset lurking around that I really cannot comprehend.
Of course, I'm not saying that we need to treat them superbly well with abalone and bird's nest for every meal, but I feel that as employers we do need to treat them with dignity and kindness.
I grew up with a helper when my mother went back to work when I was six. She was the one who cooked for me, taught me how to shower and - don't tell my teachers - did my social studies projects
for with me. She was the first person I went running to when I fell off my bicycle, the one who cared for me when I got sick (it amazes me how she herself NEVER once fell sick) and who cried the day I got married and moved out.
This was the woman who traveled some thousands of miles away from home to work in a foreign land to raise me like her own daughter, so that my mother can go out to work with a peace of mind that her children are well cared for. Sometimes we forget that our helpers are mothers themselves or someone else's daughter / sister / wife that they had no choice but to leave behind to take care of your family - they leave their own children for two years at a time and cannot be around to watch them take their first step or attend their first day of school alongside many other moments which can never be relived.
I speak pretty fluent Bahasa Indonesia thanks to her coaching but I don't think I will ever find the right words to express my gratitude.
On Sunday 24 Jan, NTUC launched the Centre for Domestic Employees with support from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to serve not only the 230,000 foreign domestic workers here in Singapore but also Singaporean domestic employees which include personal drivers, gardeners, nannies and personal security officers.
Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, Chairman for CDE, with guests from MOM, including Divisional Director from Foreign Manpower Management Division
Similar to the Migrant Workers' Centre in terms of operations, with the strong bipartite relationship between NTUC and MOM, the CDE will champion for the fair treatment of domestic employees by providing humanitarian aid, social integration and support. With the CDE having a more direct route to MOM than other NGOs, this hopefully means that issues can be better resolved for both the domestic employees and employers.
If you know any domestic employee who needs assistance, they can either visit the centre located at Goldhill Centre along Thomson Road, or call a toll-free 24-hour helpline at 1800 2255 233.
In the long run, the CDE hopes to reach out to foreign domestic workers not just in times of distress but also via education (for both employees and employers) and other preventive measures to foster better understanding, communication and relationship between employers and employees. There are also efforts to reach out to employers - they can always call the helpline for assistance.
It is of course a good thing to build solid relationships between employers and maids, because after all, there is nothing like knowing that your home and family is being well taken care of while you work your a*s off outside, right?
And to come home after a long day to your happy family and a hearty home-cooked dinner.
Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE)
185A Thomson Road
Goldhill Centre (Level 2)
Tel: 1800 225 5233