Wednesday 6 December 2017

Our Homes, Our Stories

Oh my, I realise it has been terribly, terribly quiet here on the blog the last months. I suppose it is time I tell you why I have been so busy lately: I have been working on a new book, that will be published on International Women's Day in March next year by HOME, a Singaporean charity that has supported and empowered migrant workers since 2004. Have you ever wondered what life is like for a migrant domestic worker in Singapore? This book will answer that question, and more.

In Our Homes, Our Stories, women that work in Singapore as live-in domestic workers share their real-life stories. They write about illicit love, rogue agents, abusive employers, and that one thing they all suffer from the most: missing their families back home - in Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and India. The women write about sacrifice, broken trust, exploitation, lack of food, salary deductions and constant scolding; but also about supportive employers, the love they have for the families they take care of, or how they use their time in Singapore as a stepping-stone to realise their dreams for the future.

A writing class at the shelter 
Writers Meri Ledi and Ainun at work

Volunteer Raelee working with one of the shelter residents

All proceeds of this book go to HOME, and all the writers in Our Homes, Our Stories are part of the HOME community, either as volunteers on their one weekly day off, or as residents at HOME shelter for ill-treated domestic workers. With a team of volunteers we did workshops at the shelter and HOME Academy around the theme ‘home'. We worked closely with the women, coaching them to improve their writing, the structure of the story as well as their grammar. We taught them how to rope the reader in from the first paragraph, and how to keep their attention until the end. As many of the women shared intimate, strong and compelling stories, this was not at all difficult to do, all they needed was to be nudged in the right direction. For some women, who had a very limited grasp of English, we brought in volunteers that could work with them in their own language – Indonesian, Burmese, Tamil, Punjabi. But where possible, we let them write directly in English, helping them to choose the correct and best words suited to convey what they wanted to say. We always aimed to conserve the writer's own voice, after all, it is her story to tell.

Karien and writer April Lin

HOME Academy workshop (Jo Ann, Karien, Gilda and Novia)

Writer Linda and volunteer Pleun

I am immensely proud of what we made together. I am proud of the brave women that opened up their souls to share their lives with you on the blank paper we gave them. I hope it will help you, the reader, to get a better insight in who these women are, and what drives them to leave their family, often their young children, behind to take care of those of others.

In order to bring this book to print, we need funds. We are getting closer to our target, but it would be great if you can support the project by pre-ordering your copy. For people outside of Singapore, we can ship (at your own cost) or you can order the ebook version. 

Find our crowdfunding page here: 

Follow us on Facebook to get regular updates on the book:

And do look out for the MyVoice blog for any other news on the book, interviews with the writers, and much more:

Writer Lakshmi at work

Tamil speaking workshop with volunteer Jayanthi