Elsie, a domestic helper for a Filipino family who have lived in Singapore for the past eight years, gives us a glimpse into her life here.
Elsie, known affectionately as “Ate Elsie” (Ate means sister in Tagalog) by those around her, is a single mum. Her only daughter is currently studying in the Philippines, and Elsie wants to provide a better future for her.
While she is away from her family, her employers in Singapore, Christopher and Raquel, have provided her with a home away from home.
Her daily schedule revolves around sending and picking up the kids from school, cleaning the house and cooking meals for the family. This is one meal she cooked together with her family for New Year’s Eve.
Sunday is her day off. She goes to church in the morning, where she sings in the choir and volunteers by distributing toiletries to a shelter for foreign domestic workers. The shelter is run by non-profit organisation Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, which is dedicated to improving the welfare and upholding the rights of migrant workers in Singapore.
Elsie says that her employers gives her time off once a year to go back to the Philippines visit her daughter. For most domestic helpers, this is usually given once every two years. But Elsie is very much a part of the family – they even organised a surprise birthday party for her!
Elsie has been in Singapore for the past eight years, and while she likes her life here, she also misses her daughter and family.
“I like it here, but my family is there (back in the Philippines),” she says wistfully.