Dear Lane Family,
I want to thank you for the goodness you have shown and made me feel. I know how good you are. I can say that I am lucky to have met you and become a part of your big family. You didn’t judge me but you welcomed me into your home. You entrusted me with your children, who I now consider as my children.
At first, it wasn’t easy, and I understand that. Because I know I’m new and we were just meeting for the first time. I felt fear because of what I experienced with my abusive employers. But you found a way to calm my mood and bring me closer to you. And you helped me understand that you are not like them. So I tried to be open and speak up about what happened to me and what I went through with different employers. You hugged me and told me, “Joy, we are not like them. We don’t know what you went through, but we are here, we will help you and you need to let it go. You will never experience that with us. We will treat you as family.”
Months and years have passed since our first meeting, and you are the same. We became closer to each other and we felt more comfortable. You helped me to forget all the bad things that happened in my life. You made me feel like I’m not alone. You helped me and supported me to be okay in this country.
Gemma, thank you for always making me feel important to you. You always make me the star of your friends. And you keep saying to them, “I am your Luxury,” which I appreciate and it makes me happy, and I will do my best to be the best for you. I know you appreciate all the things I do for your family. Especially to make you healthy, I always stop you from picking food from the fridge. I introduced you to a variety of different types of Filipino foods, like adobo, rice noodles and prawn sinigang, which you’ve liked and started eating more healthily.
And I can’t hide anything from you, you know me very well. That’s why sometimes even if I have a problem you know it, and you keep asking me. It’s maybe because of the closeness and we’re very open with each other. When I call my family in the Philippines I always say my best friend Gem, not my employer. You’re just laughing.
Steve, thanks for being a big brother.
Harry and Daisy, my two sweet ‘alaga’ (which is a Filipino phrase we use to call the children we are taking care of). I know my resignation was not easy for either of you—it wasn’t easy for me as well. I used to wake up early in the morning seeing you both, giving you breakfast, making dinner and putting you in bed. I know that this is the best for all of us too, as I see you now you are both growing up, independent and mature. And you know that even though you didn’t come from me, I treated you like my own. Just always remember that until I am here in London. I will always visit you, and we will spend time and create more memories, and you are still my second children. Joy loves you so much.
When I worked in Qatar and Hong Kong, my employers didn’t treat me like a human. They treated me like an animal. They counted my food before I could eat it, and rationed my water. Because of the different types of abuse that I had faced, I just kept silent. I didn’t tell my family what happened to me, because I didn’t want them to be worried about me, I needed to pretend that I was okay and happy. I didn’t want to give up and go back home, because I had a dream and goal to give a better future to my children—that’s why I have sacrificed this much for them.
You helped me to be who I am and to trust myself again. You help me to be grateful and to be thankful for everything that I have been through. You keep reminding me that I’m a strong person. And I never feel alone in this country. I believe that not all employers are bad. There are also good ones. Thank you for all the support.
God bless you and your family.
About the author
Lovelyjoy was born in the Philippines and is a mother of two children. She has been working abroad since 2011. During this time, she has experienced many abuses by her employers, making her passionate about advocating for domestic workers’ rights. She has been an active member of the Voice of Domestic Workers for five years and leads the Trade Union group in the organisation. She is determined as a Future Voice participant to add to her knowledge and self-confidence so that she can achieve her dreams of helping her fellow domestic workers.
In her free time, Lovelyjoy enjoys being active in The Voice of Domestic Workers, as well as enjoying life in London.
About Future Voices
Future Voices is a unique leadership programme in partnership with The Voice of Domestic Workers that aims to develop a network of confident and skilled migrant domestic workers as public spokespeople to amplify the injustices their community is facing.
The work of The Voice of Domestic Workers seeks to end discrimination and protect migrant domestic workers living in the UK by providing or assisting in the provision of education, training, healthcare and legal advice. They campaign to improve the living and working conditions of migrant domestic workers in the UK. As migrant domestic workers are one of the most vulnerable groups of workers, it is vital that their stories and experiences of injustice are heard, and listened to.