Will there be a shortage of Indonesian Maids?

Recently, there has been a question as to whether the supply of Indonesian maids will stay strong in light of recent circumstances.

One factor is the improving prospects and economy in Indonesia itself. Speaking in general trends, the reason most Indonesian maids head to other countries for a job is because they have generally offered more money than in their own countries. However, nowadays, a significant number would rather prefer to stay in their own country instead.

The good news is – Singapore is still considered one of the better countries in terms of pay offered, which is not the case for countries like Malaysia, which is unfortunately going through some woes with attempting to attract maids to their countries due to low economic offering. Singapore’s salaries are on par with countries such as Hong Kong and are considered very good overall.

A suggestion that has been offered as a safety net is creating an infrastructure to support more part-time maids who are allowed to work for multiple families with their own tasks. This may be a more economical way of distributing the manpower of a small number of maids better to serve the greater public. However, for the time being, full-time maids will probably remain the popular choice instead for most Singaporean families as they are more used to it.

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Accident death from falling out of window

Recently, there has been a tragic accident that highlights our need to always have safety on our mind at all time.

Ms Maid (name withheld) was busy preparing dinner for the family when she decided to step a quick trip outside to dispose of the trash. However, unbeknownst to her, the door had automatically closed behind her and locked itself on its own.

Knowing that she has left the food unattended and the kitchen running, she thought to herself that a fire may be started and panic’d, running to her neighbour’s house for help. From there, she attempted to climb from the balcony of the neighbouring unit to get to the window of her own house. In her mind, it was a perfect plan…

Unfortunately, she lost her balance and fell to her death from the 5th storey of the build, landing in a pool of her own blood. Her body was later found and reported to the police.

Let us take this opportunity to learn some lessons from this sad incident in order to prevent future mishaps.

First, we should remember that you should never leave a cooking stove unintended, even if you think you will only be away for “a short time”, as we can see, unexpected things may happen that you can not foresee.

The neighbour should have taken some time to calm the maid down instead of letting her through with her plan which was not created in a sound state of mind. For example, she could have called the house instead to open the door and let the maid in.

Every year, many maids die from falls which are entirely preventable. Remember to impress on your maid that nothing is worth losing their lives over and to keep themselves safe and sound!

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Maid malnutrition on the rise – constant weight drops

Domestic Workers Aid Agencies are worried about the trend of Maids suffering from malnutrition in Singapore. One maid by the name of “Anya” recalls her story about how she lost weight from 56 kg to 47 kg within just 2 months since she began working in Singapore – a scary drop of 9 kg to a dangerous underweight category!

While this is not a new trend, many worry about the rising trend – from 2012 to present day, the reported incidents of insufficient food rose by 20%!

Many times, this is due to fear from the maids themselves. As the employer has the power to send them back at any time, they keep to themselves to prevent offending their employers and would rather suffer in silence. Sometimes, the employer does not mean to starve them but unintentionally psychologically coerce them into silence instead.

For example, if they always comment on “how fast the bread and rice in the house is running out”, this can be seen as a “subtle” hint that they think the maid is eating too much!

Some blame has gone to the vague laws in Singapore case. For example, in Hong Kong’s case, employers are required to grant S$158 for food expenses. In Singapore however, employers are only expected to give “adequate food”, but what is adequate for a student or office worker is not the same as what is adequate for a maid who will be expected to partake in more manual labor!

Here, we believe that kindness begets kindness – feed your maid well and they will work harder for you. In the long run, bread and food are not expensive and your maid will work harder and be energized.

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Simple Cooking

Can you maid cook? Most maids can, but it is always good to try to expand their knowledge of cooking. Luckily, there are some meals that are very simple to make but form delicious food all the same. Here are some simple food of different culture that you can teach your maid to cook.

Pasta Dish
Cooking pasta dishes is one of the easiest tasks in the field of cooking. Simply put the pasta in a pot of boiling water for around 10 minutes, then serve with pasta sauce which can easily be found in many supermarkets and convenience stores.

Not only are pasta dishes as easy as cooking instant noodles, they are significantly healthier because they do not have as much sodium. It tends to be a huge hit with the kids!

Potato Salad
Another simple dish to create that’s very hands off. Simply cut up a couple of potatos, boil them until they are soft and then mix them with mayonnaise and other seasonings that you like.

Potatoes contain a lot of carbohydrates, so this is a good dish for those who want to have a burst of energy before their day. Potato Salad can be eaten both warm and chilled depending on your tastes, so you can always keep some for later.

Porridge
Porridge is created by essentially boiling rice and adding seasoning such.

With these three simple dishes, you can already have a firm basic of dishes to build upon. By building up confidence with them, you can train your maid to get creative and become a better cook and your family can enjoy more interesting meals!

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Singaporean-Indian Woman charged for abusing maid.

They say that in the world, there are 2 kinds of people – those who learn from their own mistakes and those who learn from the mistakes of others. In this case, hopefully those reading are of the second kind.

A Singaporean-Indian Woman, reported to be 31 years old, has been recently charged with the case of maid abuse. The reports show a very brutal picture. Within a short period of 6 months of working, she had already racked up 6 charges of maid abuse! Some examples of her crimes include slapping the maid, pulling her hair and banging her head against the wall, beating her with a clothes hanger and hitting her maid’s head with a showerhead until it broke! What a nasty woman!

If the conviction goes through, she can be charged with up to 3 years of jailing and ~$7000 Singapore dollars in fine. As we can see, it doesn’t pay to be cruel and abusive.

Our condolences go out to the maid who has suffered unjustly at the hands of her employer. We wish her a speedy recovery. Hopefully in the future we will not hear of any more tragedies such as this as people learn to work better with their maids.

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The maid who has it made!

Many years ago, Ms Rebecca Bustamante was a maid just like all others in Singapore at the age of 19. She cooked, she cleaned, and she went out to buy groceries like all others, diligently saving up money over time…

Today at the age of 48, this Filipino maid has now become the founder and President of Chalré Associates, a recruitment firm for senior management executive positions for companies of all nationalities, which work with many companies over the world including those included in the Fortune 500.

Speaking about her, Rebecca has always considered herself a bit of an entrepreneur due to the necessities of her childhood – she had to make and sell whatever she could find such as Ice Kacang to support the other members of her family. Believing that Filipinos have the admirable traits of being humble, determined and hardworking, she believes that the only thing holding them back is that their humility tends to lead to them not wanting to take risks or “go big” so as to remain humble.

As many maids face great stress and difficulty coping with the life of working in Singapore, Ms Rebecca plans on giving talks to maids about how they can pull themselves up and turn themselves into winners in life.

This is a fantastic heart-warming story that shows how one can come from “lowly” beginnings and rise to become a successful person.

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Maids of the past – the history of maids

Have you ever wondered about the history of maids? We take them for granted, but people did not have maids since the start of history.

In the 19th and 20th century, the economy was flourishing and thus, men and women of high ranking had the opportunity to hire servants to help them in their domestic lives, while they concentrated on other aspects of their lives such as socializing and careers.

Just like today, maids were not paid particularly well, but food and a place to live in was provided. This was much more relevant in the older days where famine and other such disasters were not unlucky events, but the maid will generally able to survive by her employer’s patronage as they are usually rich and famous.

One of the biggest change from past to present is the invention of technology. Remember that people in the past did not have many of the modern conveniences we have today. For example, there are no gas stoves or microwave ovens. If a maid wanted to cook a meal for the family, she would have to do it the old fashioned way by chopping firewood and slaving at the stove for hours!

Because of this, families used to employ many maids and form a hierachy of maids. There would be maids specifically for cooking, babysitting or cleaning, and there would be a chief maid who is like a manager, overseeing all the other maids. It was almost like the maids were involved in a business!

Of course, the invention of many devices such as electricity and vacuums has made life significantly easier for a maid. Thus, such “huge maid groups” eventually faded away and most families only employ a single maid nowadays.

As you can see, while some things have changed, some things stayed the same. We hope this has been an interesting and enlightening read on the history of maids and domestic servants.

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Temptation and Greed – a tragedy waiting to occur

In another country far away, a sad tragedy has happened. Euna Tsekwete, a 32 years old Harare maid from Shamva was found guilty of stealing $700k USD in cash from her employer.

In her own words, one day while cleaning the house, she came across the family fortune in a drawer. As she only earns a meagre $200 USD per month, she was unable to resist the temptation and thus spirited away the money.

Before she was discovered, Euna had already spent most of the money on a house and 2 cars back in her original country. As such, she has told the court that she is unable to pay back the money.

She was filled with regret, saying that she did not think taking the money would hurt her employer that much as he was a very rich man and such sums were trivial to him. The verdict for her punishment is split – some believed that she should avoid jail time due to it being her first offense, while others believe that the punishment should not be lenient due to the severity of the crime.

For those of us who have our own maids, we should be fortunate that they are good people and not like the one just mentioned. However, treating them well is a good way to keep such temptations at bay.

It also shows that you should not keep your own security for granted – when you have a maid, you are not living alone anymore. Therefore, you must take the same precautions like if you were living with a tenant on rent or a friend of the family – don’t take anything for granted! It may be more troublesome, but prevention is much better than cure.

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Erwiana Sulistyaningsih – the heroic Indonesian maid.

Recently, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian maid has had the honor of appearing in Time’s Magazine Top 100 Influential People. As Time Magazine is a prestigious magazine well respected by many, she joins the ranks of other influential people like Bill Gates, Albert Einstein and Gandhi.

What has such a humble maid done to receive such an esteemed acknowledgement, you may ask? She has shown the bravery and courage of speaking out against her abuse at the hands of her Hong Kong employees who attacked her with objects like Mops and Brooms and is constantly pushing towards better laws to regulate against maid abuse.

In a sense, it is quite similar to what Gandhi did for Indians under the rule of colonial British of the time. Instead of striking back with violence, such as with maids who decide to murder their employees or their children due to abuse, Erwiana has kept the peaceful route – using the law and educating people to know of the plight of the average maid.

Despite her abusive employers being Hong Kong, let us not be complacent and think that this does not happen in our country. In fact, Singapore has historically had a very high rate of maid abuse cases. Abuse is never justified regardless of the “reasons.”

Because of Erwiana’s work, perhaps one day Maids will might have a safe, working environment and have an avenue to channel any dissatisfaction they may have in productive ways. This is much preferred compared to a cycle of violence and we are certain both employers and employees will benefit from such a set-up.

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Life of a maid – Enalin Santiago

In the Straits Times, a story has been told about a maid. The maid’s name was Enalin Santiago, who worked for the writer’s family for the period of her contract.

Ena’s family has experienced tragedy – Typhoon Haiyan and Yolanda swept through her hometown, leaving thousands dead and many property and homes destroyed. But that did not phase her. Slowly by slowly, she used the salary earned from her work as a maid to slowly reconstruct her house each and every time she returned home on a yearly basis.

Eventually, Ena decided to invite her employer’s family with her back on her way home. The result will surely bring a tear to anyone’s eyes if they could experience it themselves. Her reconstructed house, though made of simple concrete, linoleum and roofed tiles, was built on the strong bonds of love that she shared with her family. Both families met and immediately hit it off – they shared a meal of roast pork, steamed crab and duck meat.

Throughout their time in the village, Ena jokingly referred to her employer as her “daughter”, as she had taken care of her when she was young. Indeed, it is probably more of a surprise to learn that they weren’t, considering their close ties together.

After reconstruction of the house, Ena turned her sight onto preparing an education for her daughters, in hopes of securing them a better future. Her husband is supportive, toiling on the farm in the day, while looking after the children at night.

As the visit winded to a close, they shared a tearful hug with each other. Truly they are extremely appreciative of all the time spent together with each other.

What a touching story on how a maid can develop familial relationships with her employer’s family. It’s almost as if they were not different families in the first place but one and the same! If only all of us could be so blessed to achieve such good fortune in finding people who are willing to support us in our daily lives!

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