Sharon is a childless widow. She is nearly 40 and works as a domestic helper in Singapore. She is one of the many thousands of overseas foreign workers in the country. All of them have sad stories but it's rare that any are heard. Take a moment to read this one particular woman's story.
Sharon lives in a apartment far away from the city with 5 other girls. The basic apartment has no air conditioning and is cramped (she shares a small room the size of a bathroom with another Filipino helper). Everyday, she works for 8-10 hours ironing, scrubbing toilets, mopping floors and washing dishes. She makes a measily S$1,000 a month. With this money, she pays S$400 in monthly rent and utilities. She pays another S$100 for transportation to get to work. She only spends S$100 for food, which is around $3 a day; most dinners consist of plain rice with an egg on top and a few slices of tomatoes. She sends back S$200 to her family and another S$100 to support her two cousins in university. If she's lucky, she has $100 left for herself as savings.
She's no longer 20 and has difficulty cleaning for 8-10 hours a day. Her joints suffer from arthritis. She has asthma. She recently injured her shoulder lifting a heavy mattress. Despite all this, she has no choice but to continue working 6 days a week. Her family in the Philippines rely on her.
Sharon was unfortunate as a child. Her mother was also a Filipino helper in Singapore for 18 years and she only saw her once a year due to expensive airplane tickets. She remembers when her mother would ask her what she wanted every time she visited, to which Sharon replied, "just for you to stay longer." Although that was impossible, her mother would instead bring her Snickers chocolate bars instead. Now, she continues this tradition and brings all her nieces and nephews a suitcase of candy bars whenever she visits.
Sharon was educated and was previously a school teacher in the Philippines. The salary was only S$50 a month in the village that she lived in. Due to family pressures and financial issues, she became a helper in Singapore. She also got married to her childhood sweetheart. Sadly, her happiness was short lived as he died of a heart attack just one year after their marriage.
Her husband and her had a dream of building their own house. They talked often about how their would live a simple but happy life in the village and have a few children. They worked for years and years, but he never had to chance to finish it before he died. She promised him that she would fulfill their dream and complete the house. She has managed to build most of her house with over S$30,000 of savings accumulated over her lifetime, the insurance benefit from her husband's death and with the help of her previous employer. However, it is still not enough and she needs about S$10,000 more to complete her house.