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#WeAreMigrants Feature: Karen Louise

Karen Louise

United Kingdom

Part Time Nanny / Housekeeper 40 - 49 years old

1. How many years since you migrated, or since you became a migrant worker? What do you remember most about that first migration experience?

I left the Philippines last 2005, and that year, I became a migrant worker, working in Singapore as a domestic worker for five years and then for a few months of staying in our country. I'm struggling again with finances because my salary in Singapore wasn't enough to save and support me while I'm applying for another job in another country.

It's been seventeen years of sacrifices and being a part of my loved ones to earn money for the dream and future of my son and to support my family.

I remembered most my first migration experience. I was very nervous and excited because it was my first time taking an airplane. When I was on the plane, I didn't understand what I felt, as soon as I found my seat near the window side, I sat down and prayed for the safeness of my flight and other people as well, for my long journey to the country where I'm going to work for a couple of years. I started crying silently because I started missing my son and our family, and for my situation to the other country, where I'm going work. During our three hours on the flight, I cried until the plane reached the airport in Singapore.

I was surprised when I came out of the airplane walking going to the queue for the immigration check, I can see outside that it was still sunny, but the time was seven in the evening already. I said to myself that its' different from the Philippines time was already dark. I was amazed and admired the airport in Singapore because so huge, clean, and beautiful, and the people were very disciplined, friendly, and helpful.

2. The migrant workers in our TAYO community are people of strength and generosity. Tell us about a time this 2022 where you saw strength or generosity in yourself or in a fellow migrant worker.

Yes, the people in the TAYO community are strong and generous, not only this 2022 but since we started this community. I became stronger when I joined this community, especially when my depression came, and very down and hopeless about my case. I fought my feelings on it and said to myself to overcome what I felt that moment for my son and family because they don't know what to do if something happened to me here in this country.

Last month, one of my friends, whose a migrant domestic worker here in the United Kingdom, had a big problem with his family back in her origin country. She was [feeling so hopeless, but I stood by her] and she listened to what I said to her. She [leaned on me for two weeks and I helped her stay strong.] I'm checking on her now and then to give full support and help her not only in the reach of financially but mentally, emotionally, and physically.

When you are generous to people who do not have something for themselves or on their table, you offer them help. It doesn't mean that you're a rich person, but that you are rich in understanding. I only want to share what I have because I have experienced a hard life before and no one helped me. I'm generous to people, but I will help the people who also have the motivation to help themselves.

3. Our TAYO community believes in the multiple talents and skills of our members. Tell us about talent or skill that you have, that you’d like others to know more about.

Yes, all members of the TAYO community indeed have different talents and skills because we, Filipino people are very talented in many different ways, we are very flexible and have long-patient workers.

As a woman and my job are one of a hero in our country being a migrant worker, except being a school dancer from nursery to college.

Even here in my organization, the one talent or skill that I'd like others to know about ? I'm a caring person to someone not only my friends and loved ones. I'm the kind of person that not easy to give up on any problem or obstacle that I'm going to face, I will not stop to think the way until I can find the solutions to the problem that I'm facing. I know how to handle an obstacle in front of people who thought, I'm a happy person, but if I'm alone that's the time to face the problem I have within myself. I'm a frank person, If I don't like your attitude, I will tell you right away, but you must find out first my true behavior even though you don't know me before you conclude what kind of person I am. I'm the kind of person that will cherish our relationship whether you are my friend or my loved one. I will help you until I can afford it, and I will not leave you in the middle of your consequences.

4. For the family members and loved ones that are still in your home country, what is your message for them as we end 2022 and start the new year 2023?

To my family and loved ones back in my origin country, 2022 is going to end, an additional year that I have been away, and we've been apart from each other since I'm working abroad. I want to say that we're not getting any younger, but we are getting old. This recent year is not kind to our family. We face a lot of consequences and problems, one of which is the health problem of our Mother that I hope she will get better soon. The misunderstanding between the siblings because of jealousy and envy of each other, I hope it will be settled before change the new year.

As a family, we need to love, share, and join hands helping each other as a sibling to resolve misunderstandings between each other and any problems that came to our households. In each of your finances, even if each of you earns a bit, you must know how to save for yourself for your future and the future of each of your own family, and for times of emergency, you will not struggle to find a resolution because you have your savings, or both of you will join the TAYO community so that each of you will learn how to do budgeting in small earnings. By this coming 2023, I'm hoping each of us will bind as a whole family.

Adapt to yourself how to love and cherish the remaining time of our loving Mother in this world, with no more jealousy, hatred for each other, and pulling one sibling to the ground instead of helping each other for the success of everyone and the better future of all members of the family not only for one person.

This feature is one of the entries to our #WeAreMigrants Contest - in celebration of International Migrants Day 2022.

Are you a domestic worker too?

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*Minor edits have been made to this text to improve readability. These edits have not altered the intended meaning or message of the original author.

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