Singapore — The mothership.sg news portal featured an essay on Saturday (Jan 18) by a young Filipina whose mother works as a maid in Singapore. It was titled: “Dear S’pore employers, please remember that your domestic helper left her family to come take care of yours.”
The essay is part of a collection of pieces in The Birthday Book Jr, which the portal describes as “a collection of 55 essays featuring young Singaporeans from various walks of life”.
The writer, 16-year-old Franchesca Minette N. Ordonez, said she was grateful to her mother’s employers for sponsoring her trip to Singapore to see her as a reward for having good grades.
She said that she found Singaporeans kind and that she had made many friends here. She also marvelled at how safe and clean the country was, and said how much she had enjoyed seeing the different attractions.
But her essay took on a plaintive tone when she wrote: “It is difficult to be far away from my mother. When I am back home, and she is in Singapore, I am sad. It is hard to have my mother be so far away from me, for so long. But I understand that this cannot be helped. It is especially hard when I see that my friends get to see their mothers every day; it makes me miss her very much.”
She ended her piece with an appeal for domestic workers to be treated well by their employers:
“Some helpers are treated badly: they don’t get off days or get to call home to their families because their employers ban them from using the phone. Some even cheat their salary or give very little food!
“That makes me sad and angry — please remember that your helper had to leave her family behind to come take care of yours. I hope you treat your helper well.”
There has been mixed reaction from Singaporeans to the teen’s essay. There were those who said that the workers chose to come here:
Others warned of the danger of portraying employers as villainous.
However, there were those who seemed to appreciate the reminder to treat domestic helpers with decency and humanely.
Others felt that the domestic workers (and their families) needed to be thankful that they had work in Singapore.
One netizen commented that respect was a two-way street.