We’ve succumbed. We’re employing a live-in maid, as do many people (both locals and expats) in Singapore. You just need to look around our condo to see how many expat families have them. It’s definitely one of the perks of living here (or perhaps it’s a gross indulgence).
Used to be known as ‘Amas’ and now known as ‘helpers’ (to be PC!?!), most come from the Philippines or Indonesia, and come to Singapore to earn money to send back home. Many of them have children, even younger ones, in their home countries but don’t see their families for up to two years at a time.
They stay in tiny rooms usually at the back of the kitchen, in the utility area, with a small bed, fan and bedside table. Some even have to stay on the floor of their employer’s kitchen. They get paid an a fairly poor salary, which includes food and accommodation, and they usually get Sundays and Bank Holidays off, although it can be less. Their duties include everything from cooking, cleaning, taking children to school, polishing shoes, cleaning cars, looking after babies and making tea. In fact, they will do anything you darn want, apparently.
According to people I have spoken to, it’s Chinese and Indian families who work helpers the hardest, sometimes making them wash their cars or polish their shoes every single day. One girl told me she was desperate to leave her current family as she slept in their baby’s room and looked after him at night and was then expected to do a full day’s work during the day.
Everyone says it’s life-changing having a maid, but I’m having a bit of a battle with my inner self about whether this is what we should be doing. Obviously, I’m looking forward to getting some help with the chores, especially as it’s not long before I have a baby, but is it right? And I am nervous about the idea of having someone live with us as it means a loss of privacy, and I sure as hell bet it makes you LAZY
For now, I’m off to put my feet up, continue the battle with my inner self and get fat!