I was born in Indonesia, a country known for supplying domestic helpers to countries around the World. Growing up, I was fortunate to have at least one domestic helper living with our family. I remember fondly of the first helper who took care of me from when I was born till I was about 7 years old. She was loving, fierce when I needed some discipline and always there when I needed her. I feel like tearing up a little remembering those times.
Most domestic helpers who come to big cities or overseas, left their kids and family behind to work so that they can send back whatever they earn and hopefully help their kids have better lives in Kampung (Indonesian word for hometown). They work tirelessly and put our needs ahead of theirs because that was what they are expected to do. Of course once in a while we might encounter bad experiences with helpers like my family did, but most of them are hard-workers who gave up their freedom to serve others.
In recent years I’ve seen so many cases of domestic helper abuse and every time I read about what was done to them in foreign countries, it angers me so much. How could anyone hire a domestic helper and treat her as slave?? People like that shouldn’t even be allowed to hire one! How could anyone be so despicable to pour hot water, rape, or insults another human being and think it is alright for them to do so just because they paid whatever measly salary that is not even enough to cover the help you’re getting? Does you boss at the office pour hot water at you? NO. Will the law punish an employer who become violent in the office? YES. Should the same treatment be extended to these domestic helpers? ABSOLUTELY.
I’ve had my share of bad helper experiences but that is never a reason to treat them as less than human. We are all the same, regardless of our social status, everyone deserves the same kind of respect. If you have a higher standing in the society, all the more you should be helping those who are less fortunate. Remember these helpers are courageous souls who left their home miles away without any friends so that they can have a decent, honest job and support their family.
Let me leave you with an article from the New York Times titled“Behind Close Doors, Abuse of Domestic Helpers. I hope these images by Steve McCurry and the story they tell would touch your heart and stir in you the desire to care and help those less fortunate than us.