A day in the good life

  Author WEE SUI LEE
  Publication thestar.com.my
  Date 12/1/2006

FILIPINA maid Nida Aquino Sindayen, 51, is single and the eldest of six siblings who she put through school by working as a maid.

She has worked in Singapore for the same family for two decades, looking after their three children. Sindayen enjoys good work conditions compared to other maids in Singapore, earning twice the average salary.

A maid cleaning a window in Singapore.

She talks about her typical day:

5.30am: I prepare breakfast for (13-year-old) Darshini.

Then, I start work proper. I sweep the driveway and water the plants in the garden. I'll have my breakfast afterwards. Following that, I wash the clothes - some of which must be hand-washed. Then, I make the children's beds.

I don't mind working hard for the children - I love the children and treat them like my very own. They are the reason why I remained working in Singapore for this long. When I first arrived in 1986, I missed home so much I cried almost every day.

1pm: I prepare lunch for Darshini, before she returns from school. After that, I do some ironing. I'm so used to it that I don't feel tired, despite working more than six hours straight. It is a hard job, but I am happy.

I think now of Singapore as my second home. The circumstances are much better in Singapore - I'm paid S$600 (RM1,390), about five times as much as what I earned as a production controller in a semi-conductor factory back in the Philippines.

The money I send back - about 50% of my salary - has paid for my younger siblings' school fees.

Some of my friends don't get a day off, but they need it to unwind and relax. If not, the frustration and anger gets bottled up and they might snap. I am lucky because my employer is one of the few who give their maids a day off every Sunday.

6pm: I start preparing dinner for my employers. I try to cook a few spicy dishes at every meal. My employers are Indian.

8-9pm: I wash up after dinner. At 9pm, I'm usually done for the day. The house is clean and I get to sneak a few peeks at the television, if time permits.

I also ring my mother back home - I'm very close to her.

I still miss my family immensely. I saw them only four times in the last 20 years. My mother constantly asks me to return to be with them. My parents are old ... They need me.

10.30pm: I'm a staunch Catholic, so I always end the day reciting the rosary and saying a prayer. I pray that God will bless my family, my employers and me. - Reuters

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