Finding A Home Away From Home: Leah’s Story

  • Apr 24, 2024

Before coming to Singapore in 2011, Leah was pursuing her university degree in finance management in the Philippines. Coming from a family facing financial difficulties, she had to work as a nanny at the same time to pay off her tuition fees and  to earn the extra money to support her family.

However, the money she earned was barely enough, and it was difficult juggling both studying and working at the same time. With that, she made the difficult decision to forgo her education, and move abroad to earn a better living as a Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW).

Working for her first employer in Singapore was not easy, as she had to get used to the family’s way of doing things – which would sometimes be demoralising.

Her utensils were kept separately from the family’s set, and she could not sit with them at the dining table during meal times. When she accompanied them for outings, she was also expected to pack her own food, or eat outside of the restaurant they were in.

At its worst, she recalls eating her lunch inside the public toilet as she had nowhere else to go. She felt embarrassed every time someone walked in, and she ended up crying there because she was so humiliated. “I felt like I had a disease,” she said.

Despite feeling upset about the situation, she kept to herself, fearing that she would get fired if she spoke up. For her family’s sake, she persevered on.

Fortunately, things changed for the better with her current employer, who treats her as part of the family. They invite her to sit with them during meal times, join them for family outings, and even travel together on holidays!

Seeing Leah’s passion for cooking and being food lovers themselves, her employer has also encouraged her to hone her skills by experimenting in the kitchen when she has free time, and even introduced her to their friend who is a chef to help her improve her cooking skills.

They have also sponsored her for upskilling classes, such as ACMI’s Skills Development courses. She hopes to learn new skills to help her achieve her dream of opening a restaurant in the future.

Through these courses, she has also met a community of like-minded MDWs, who have been helpful companions on her journey and have supported her in navigating life abroad. They spend their off days together, and even encourage her during times where she feels troubled.

Currently, she is a student in the Excel & PowerPoint course and has learnt many useful computer skills that help her keep up with the pace of technology today!

Many migrants leave home in search of a better life for their families. In the process, they go through hardships in a new environment, or even give up the dreams and opportunities they might have once had for themselves.

Amidst these sacrifices that they have to make, ACMI believes in enriching the lives of migrants by giving them the space to learn new skills and discover new passions through our Skills Development classes.

Help make a difference in the lives of migrants. Your donations will go towards sustaining all of ACMI’s services and programmes including keeping the Skills Development classes affordable for migrants like Leah.

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Donations $10 and above are eligible for 250% tax deduction.