Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Nancy with my 2nd son

My kids' nanny, Nancy has gone back to Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia ... for good .... not of her choice, but because she failed her first year medical test as subjected by the Immigration Department. This is one of the major reasons I have not been online for a few days. So many things to pack and prepare for her travel.

I feel very sad for her because Nancy had come a long way, and with much difficulty and with much cost, to finally work in Malaysia, only to leave prematurely.

I never realised how difficult it was for Indonesian girls from very poor districts to come out and work. After all, she never once complained about her circumstances, and had worked cheerfully, taking great care of my kids, which I am really grateful for.

Once we realised that she had to leave, my husband suggested we find out how we can help her and her community who lived way below the poverty line.

How poor are they?

They are so poor, they had never needed a bank account.

The girls who leave their homes to work in other countries as maids and nannies are the ones who bring in the much needed cash to their families.

Most of these women go through a lot of hardship.

Here's what Nancy and the many girls in Indonesia go through.

A "sponsor" from her area would go round the villages recruiting young girls. He would offer Rupiah 1,000,000 (barely USD$90 to us but a princely sum to them) to the parents to allow the daughters to sign a work contract with him. In exchange, he will deduct around 6 months to 8 months salary when she finally finds work.

After being recruited, Nancy was send to a big city called Kupang 6 hours away from her hometown. There, she made her passport and was subjected to a medical examination. Some unlucky girls are send to brothels to be raped by "customers" before they are sent to Jakarta. And because the family need the money, and because the community are afraid, many choose to keep quiet, and allow the perpetrators get away with it.

After 3 days in Kupang, the passports are finally ready. A few hundred girls from around this island are regularly flown to Jakarta in a large, bare boned helicopter, two girls sharing one safety belt, hanging on for dear life. The helicopter's rickety, and scary, said Nancy.

Once they arrived in Jakarta, the girls were hulled to a building, where she was told approximately 700 girls from all over Indonesia, at any one time, are locked up with intimidating, armed guards patrolling the building to prevent any girls from escaping.

They have to sleep on cement floors with no mattresses, no blankets. Since there are not enough bathrooms, as many as ten women have to bath together at a time. If you think it's one large room like what we have at our regular gym shower room, think again. It's a tiny bathroom. Even I can't imagine how they do it. Many women do not bath for days due to the inconvenience. A lot of women go crazy, since they are not allowed out of the "prison". The lucky ones leave within the month, others, like Nancy, leave within 3 months. Some, considered, ugly, unteachable, or whatever, are "locked" up for up to 6 months waiting to be chosen to work somewhere.

Nancy says the pretty ones are harassed by the guards, and if the guards are bold enough, the girls are raped. The women are constantly verbally abused and beaten by the people who work there. Nobody really value them. The girls huddle together, and form friendships to try to make the best of their situation. If they are lucky, they will be sent to kind employers. If not, well .....

Nancy striking a pose for the album

Anyways, Nancy is really a nice person. And we were really glad it was she who came to live with us. It's really too bad she has to leave.

Hubby and I really feel that we should help Nancy and her community to the best of our abilities. These girls want to work here. And they long to work in a loving environment. We don't think these girls have to be subjected to such terribly dangerous situation. So, we want to help bring them here to work, safely.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an agent, just a no name one woman "NGO" that's all.

I need your help and advise.

I would like to know what are the correct procedures to bring girls from Nusa Tenggara to work as maids and nannies for good people who will provide them with a safe and happy environment. By skipping the Indonesian agencies, they don't have to pay the agents 6 to 8 months salary. That's big savings for their family! Plus, they avoid a lot of abuses as well.

We, in turn get to know who these girls are because a lot of resumes are faked by the Indonesian agencies in hopes someone will pick these "unwanted" women quickly. By going through an unorthodox method, we hope that employers will get them faster than if it was done via a maid employment agency in Malaysia. To know why it takes so long to get a maid from the maid agency, we have to realise that these agencies get limited "bio data" or "resumes" from Indonesia. The choices are very unsatisfactory and the local agents hands are tied.

The other thing I would like to do is get to know the head of the immigration department in Putrajaya (The Pengarah). In order to get the girls to come here, they have to go through a medical examination in their home country. Unfortunately, I have searched the internet and have not found any medical facility which are approved by the Malaysian immigration department in that area. I would like to know how to get one approved because it would just be too expensive for these girls to fly all the way to Jakarta to be examined by a doctor.

I would like to have a chat with anyone who has brought in a maid from Indonesia on their own without the agency's help. So if you know guys know anyone, please ask them if they are willing to help me out.

There are ways to do this so that everybody wins. I'm not sure how, but I'm sure it can be done. It's time the people there take control of their own situation.

You see, my mum was from a poor family in Alor Setar. My great-great grandparents lived in a small wooden hut, probably just like Nancy and her family. My great great grandmother used to catch fish in the paddy fields for her dinner. When I think of Nancy's family, I think of my family. And I think everyone should be given that chance to have a better life.

"Eat Raw Food Today" facebook group

ps Nusa Tenggara's current date and time

pps am so sorry that the pictures are not clear and something is wrong with the alignment of the words. There's something wrong with the bloging program. I will clean up the blog nicely later.

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