‘An Eye-Opener Into a World of Inequality’: Our Summer Intern Reflects

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27 August 2018

It’s been two weeks since I returned from my three-month internship at HOME to a slower-paced life in Canada, and despite the joy of home, it is hard to be back. It is hard to be living my comfortable day-to-day life when I have confronted how different that reality is for others. My time at HOME made me realize that what we take to be basic rights—to a safe work environment, to be rightfully compensated for your labour, to be treated with dignity and respect, to be able to seek recourse for wrongdoings—are in fact privileges. All of the above, amongst others, are privileges that migrant domestic workers in Singapore do not have in the same way we do.

In my role as a befriender, I got to interact closely with our shelter residents and understand their backgrounds, their feelings, and their personal interests. Their resiliency and patience despite their precarious situations and how they support one another through it was motivating. I also got to speak to case officers, agents, and employers and got to better understand the pressures they face, and the social and legal barriers that exist to prevent fair and equal access to justice for migrant domestic workers. I was lucky to be in the guidance of my co-workers and fellow interns, who showed me by example what dedication and unapologetic advocacy looks like in practice. The strong sense of community and care in the office that comes from everybody pushing for the same meaningful goals is a feeling I will remember the most. Through these experiences, I got to understand the issue in a holistic lens while attempting to do something about it.

Even though I was volunteering, I often would try to think of ways in which I can possibly do justice to HOME for all they have taught me in the span of a short couple months. Not only was my summer in Singapore a huge eye-opener into a world of inequality that I had been sheltered from, I truly felt supported by everyone and felt that what we were doing every day was significant and meaningful. Even small actions such as checking in with a resident or calling an employer had magnitude, because it made a massive difference to someone and their case. I cannot thank everybody at HOME enough for the massive difference they have made in my life for letting me be a part of their community. It is hard to be away, but hopefully I can be back soon!

Stephanie Chok