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“I tried eating banana that madam wanted to throw” – Foreign domestic helper recounts experience with stingy employers

Sharing her story on the 'FDW in Singapore (working conditions forum)' Facebook page, Dowell-Elaine Cabalteja Eugenio wrote that she was left to starve during the four years she worked for a Bengali family who were "very stingy of food, counting the breads and questioning all the snacks"

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A foreign domestic helper, who has been working in Singapore for nearly 14 years, recently shared her experience with stingy employers who did not provide sufficient food for her.

Sharing her story on the ‘FDW in Singapore (working conditions forum)’ Facebook page, Dowell-Elaine Cabalteja Eugenio wrote that she was left to starve during the four years she worked for a Bengali family who were “very stingy of food, counting the breads and questioning all the snacks”. (sic)

Elaine wrote that her employers deducted her salary for 7 months on top of this. Over time, Elaine became so hungry and skinny. She recounted that once, she “tried eating banana that madam wanted to throw because i was very hungry and no food to eat, i became so skinny but i always pray to God for my strength.”

Elaine was afraid to transfer to another employer as she feared her next employer would treat her even more poorly. When she got paid, Elaine – a married woman who left her husband and children in her home country – found that she was spending her salary just to feed herself.

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She wrote: “I did not transfer because I was so scared I might get worse employer, (sic) but when I got my salary, I was buying already for myself just not to get hungry. (sic) I managed two contracts with this situation.”

Revealing that she endured the situation because she knew that she needed to work to provide for her family, Elaine wrote that she wanted to return to her home country for good at the end of four years.

When she went back home, however, Elaine realised that she had to return to Singapore to work. She wrote: “I realised my children [are] growing, I need to earn for their studies, my husband also working but not enough…I decided to come again here.” (sic)

Thankfully, Elaine was employed by a kinder family when she returned to Singapore. She wrote: “My boss now are so generous and kind hearted…no problem about food, I am getting extra money, gifts and bonuses including gifts for my two children. My madam bought for them a laptop and each of them received it.” (sic)

Elaine, however, faced a problem when her new employer was not able to give her a day off on Sunday – the day that Elaine wished to have off so she could go to church and participate in ministry.

Although she was desperate to go to church on Sundays, Elaine respected her new employer’s wishes. She wrote: “I respected what my madam told me, I still did my job well, put love in everything i do for them as i considered them as my family, and keep praying that one day she will allow me to go out every Sunday.” (sic)

Elaine happily shared that her prayers paid off after three years and she is now able to take the day off on Sundays to go to church. Elaine advised the other helpers on the Facebook page:

“All I want to emphasize to everyone is, sometimes we have to learn to agree even we are disagree. If we put love in everything we do especially in our works to our bosses, giving respect to what they say, being patience in every situation and keep praying to God, God is really faithful and He listens to what we are praying. (sic)

“We can not do anything if our boss will decide (sic) but God can do something to change our bosses minds and we really get what we need if we really deserved (sic) it. God bless us all.”

Read her post in full here:

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