This heartfelt article is contributed by “The Best of You” and captures a reflection of one of their writers, Ritchelle as she shares her story of struggle and finding herself. From our contributor to many of us, Gal Gadot is the modern women epitome of a superhero, the Wonder Woman of our time. But our version of a superhero is Ritchelle, a foreign domestic worker in Singapore. Struggling with the pain of leaving her 2 children behind in Philippines in pursuit of a better life for them in future, Ritchelle sees herself beyond the how many Singaporeans perceive of maids – that they are at the lowest of our social structure and that they are meant to stay there.
” Finding self worth by making a difference to some ones life”
“Zao an”, good morning in Mandarin was the first word I learnt before I came to Singapore.
Year 2008: I became a widow. After my husband passed away I was left alone with two sons, Jayson and Gabriel, to raise all by myself. With only a suitcase to carry, we left our home in Batangas, southern part of Luzon about 300km away from Manila the capital of the Philippines. I returned to my hometown the Province of Iloilo in the Central part of the Philippines. We started a new life living with Mom and Dad. Everyday was a constant struggle of sleepless nights thinking “how can I raise my children and give them a better future when I am alone?”
The only thing that was left to me was my faith.
Prayers became my refuge. To overcome financial hardships, I applied for a job and eventually worked as a Sales Representative at Globe Telecom. I spent days at work by selling broadbands from house to house. It was a tough job. Most of the time I missed lunch, and almost got hit by cars on the road. Dad tried to stop me from working. But I said, “no, Dad my children needs me.” One day, I was walking along the streets in Jaro, Iloilo City where I walked pass the Cathedral. It seems there was a force pulling me to enter one of the rooms along the main church. I went in and it was an Adoration Chapel. I kneeled down and broke down to cry. In front of the Blessed Sacrament, I released all my worries, my hardships and pains which I bore for so many years of battling life’s journey. For that couple hours, I was alone in the room. Suddenly , my phone rang. It was my manager. The voice desperately saying, “Where are you? Come to the office right now and hand me your resignation. You are fired!!” Instead of being worried, I was enlightened and I smiled. That day.. I lost my job.
On the way to the jeepney stand, I saw queue of ladies. I went to asked. They were queuing for an interview to Singapore. The sign said, “URGENT HIRING – DH for Singapore“. I joined the queue and got interviewed that day.
January 10,2009, the plane I boarded had touched down the tarmac. I am in Singapore. I told myself, “this will be my second home.” After 4 days of clearing all my working documents, my employer picked me up from the agency. On the way to home, she was giving me a head start to what will be my duties and whom I am gonna be with in the house. To my surprise, I found out that we shared the same Faith, the same belief. Initially I was not thinking about salary, treatment or freedom that I may get from working with them. My heart was overfilled with joy and gratefulness because I believe My God is with me.
That very first day at work, I managed to call my Dad and my children. I was so glad to tell them that I wasn’t being treated as a maid. I told them all the good things I experienced in working and how lovely the people around me. Dad was so happy. I did really find a second home. A year after, Dad passed away. Another challenging moments in my life. My employer got pregnant and because of her condition, she was reluctant to send me back for my Dad’s funeral. I gave her my words, “I will never leave you especially this time when I know you needed me the most”, She hugged me and tears trickled down her cheeks.
Despite of so many ups and downs in life, I never gave up. My patience and determination was put to the test several times. I always find ways to be inspired and get motivated. I rely on reading books, paintings and doing other useful things. I even write blogs as a channel to pour out emotions, feelings and ideas which mostly I would like to share.
My employer found me enthusiastic in learning. One day she approached me if I want to study, after she saw an article in the news paper about Aidha and its good side on teaching OFWs about financial management. I joined Aidha in 2014. There I realised my dream. I fully understood myself being an individual in a network of amazing women who became my mentors friends and inspirations in life.
I am beginning to like the idea of learning or rather become conscious to it. As soon as I decided to confront a problem, I realized that I am more capable than I thought I was. That all my strength and knowledge comes from within and from the people whom I mingled each day. Aidha is an institution that not just teaching students about financial management and entrepreneurship, but most of all, she teaches us how to become a better person. The spirit of sharing, encouragement and empowering women from all walks of lives regardless their religions, nationalities and backgrounds.
For Dad, I am a daughter. For my kids, I am a mother. For my employer, I am a helper and a sister. For my friends, I am a comforter and a listener. For my business partner, I am a soulmate. For my fellow woman, I am an individual, a fighter and a believer that nothing is impossible if we believe in ourselves and always committed to do the right things for our future and never limit our capacity to explore useful ideas and make a difference to each and every women’s lives.
This story is attributed to Aidha to its strong commitment to uplift the lives of OFWs in Singapore. Thank you so much.
Watch her video here: