Foreign domestic workers deserve kindness too

It is encouraging to see writers like Mr Goh Boon Kai and Neo Poh Goon urging for better treatment of domestic helpers amid the recent debate on their exclusion from private clubs (Start by treating maids as family; and Rule barring maids in clubs can be changed; both Dec 5).

The bylaws and rules of private clubs are determined by members. And members who join these clubs expect some level of exclusivity.

But as social norms evolve and society becomes more inclusive, this debate will continue among members of such clubs.

The rules will change when those who wish to be more inclusive outnumber those who do not. That remains to be seen.

For now, it is important to be reminded that foreign domestic workers play a very significant helping role in our society, enabling many mothers to remain in the workforce.

They sacrifice the opportunity to watch their children grow up while they are helping to raise our own.

We can show more kindness in our words and actions as a way of appreciating their contribution to our lives.

It is as simple as having meaningful and caring conversations with them - interacting with them as fellow human beings instead of simply invisible employees and workers.

Treating them as part of the family and including them during special occasions give them a sense of belonging and purpose.

I am heartened when I go out for meals in restaurants and see domestic helpers dining with their employers.

In the case of some of my friends, they have done wonderful things for their domestic helpers, including helping them to save money and helping them to set up small businesses or buy land in their home town.

These domestic helpers are ever so grateful and they are still in touch.

These meaningful acts of kindness help to foster harmonious employer-domestic worker relationships, build trust and loyalty.

In fact, it is one of the better ways of ensuring that our children and elderly parents are in trustworthy hands when we entrust them to the worker's care.

When we as individuals start to appreciate our domestic helpers for their true value, it will be a matter of time before our clubs act accordingly.

William Wan (Dr)

General Secretary

Singapore Kindness Movement