By Robina Navato
I have been working here in Singapore for almost 21 years. And I can say that I am blessed enough to have worked with very good families. From my local employer of 11 years who treated me like a part of their family, to my amazing American employers. Life was not easy at first but I managed to adjust.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for many other domestic workers here. It breaks my heart to know their situation, how they are abused.
Seeing how many of my fellow migrant workers are mistreated motivated me to become a volunteer at HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migrant Economics). I am part of the Help Desk, where I give advice to distressed domestic workers and help them solve problems with their employers. It is really easy for me to put myself in their shoes, to imagine what they go through. Sometimes, I get affected too, especially when I see them cry.
Witnessing our struggles, I turned to poetry to speak out against abuse. My poems became my voice. I wanted our voices to be heard.
When I started writing my first poem, “Cry of the Hidden”, it took less than a day. It is a poem about the lives of two domestic workers I’ve known. From there I wrote “Sacrifice,” which reflects my own experience. I dedicate it to all the migrant mothers who left their families with the hope of providing a better life for their children. As it turned out, this wasn’t as easy as we thought.
Life is tough for migrant domestic workers. We made a huge sacrifice in leaving our families, especially our children and we wish our employers—especially those who are parents themselves—would empathize with what we go through. We move thousands of miles away from home because we want to provide for our families too. Respect our rights.