Sunday, April 01, 2007

Just me and my thoughts on domestic help

Once again it was highlighted in the papers...the plight of maids in Singapore. My heart goes out to them as I read about their stories in yesterday's Straits Times. Life in Philippines and Indonesia is hard; families ridden with overflowing debts; husbands unemployed, the girls just have no choice but to take up the financial burden. Imagine leaving your new born baby at home, plus you have to borrow money so just you can work as a domestic helper in some 'weird' country, taking care of someone else's baby? I guess it it worth it for those who managed to cope well in a foreign land and blessed with good employers. They saved up their salaries, wired it back home , the money well spend on their kids' education and also contributing to the acquiring of their new houses.

But many a maids have also shorten their dreams by working for the 'wrong' employers. Today's ST reported about maids who are given a 300 calories diet a day- a piece of white bread, watery porridge and plain water. How is that even gonna be enough for a grown adult? With such employers around, it is no wonder why some maids have to beg for food or worst, run away. Don't these Singaporean employers have the slightest empathy for fellow humans?! They expect these girls to work for them, but yet, refuse to even give them the least amount of respect?

I remembered about one horrible woman who actually physically abused her maid. This mad woman actually made the poor maid stripped and rubbed chilli on her private parts just because she committed a very small mistake. Another maid was beaten to death because she ate food meant for the kids. Do they deserve such treatment? If maids' character is an issue, so is the employers. There should be some kind of psychological tests for those who wants a maid ( is there one now? )

I guess there are always two sides of the coin. Just as there are good maids, there are also good employers.. and vis versa.

It is inevitable for differences . We already have conflicts with our family members, least to say a stranger from a different country and culture. Of course there are the 'smart' ones.. those who try to snitch here and there from the unsuspecting employers. Like how one of my good friend who's maid sneaked out in the middle of the night to meet her lover!! Yes, my poor friend has no choice but to send her home. To think that she treated the maid well. Her present maid is a hard working 30 odd yrs old lady from Philippines, and my friend is not taking any chances. She has since installed cctv at home.

A balance of some sort has to be strike.

I was out today, and I looked around at the food loft where I was having my dinner. A lot of young families were there, kids and maids in toll. It seems we are quite dependent on them to wash our clothes, look after our kids, cook for us, and also nursing the old folks. Shouldn't we treat them better at times, rewarding them when they do well, and of course giving appropriate punishment when they erred. I really applauded those families who are able to treat these girls as family, some even paying for their English or computer lessons. We need more appreciative employers and of course ( we hope for the best) that the domestic helpers don't go overboard with the good will bestow to them.

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