Concert held to lift spirits of foreign maids

Foreign domestic worker Mary Jane (far left) and her employer Jez Lim performing in a virtual concert organised by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training on Sunday. The three-hour show featured song and dance performa
Foreign domestic worker Mary Jane (far left) and her employer Jez Lim performing in a virtual concert organised by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training on Sunday. The three-hour show featured song and dance performances, interactive games as well as information on the local charity's programmes. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

After three years away from her family, foreign domestic worker Mary Jane had fervently looked forward to visiting her son for his birthday in the Philippines' Quirino province last January.

The 33-year-old, who has worked here for seven years, was left disappointed when Covid-19 disrupted her travel plans and forced her to remain in Singapore.

She was comforted by her employer, Ms Jez Lim, who encouraged her to video call her friends and family regularly to stay in touch with them.

As the pandemic wore on, both turned to jazz dancing at home to support each other's well-being.

On Sunday, the duo got a chance to perform in a virtual concert organised in a bid to lift the spirits of foreign domestic workers who have had to stay at home on their rest days and away from their families during the pandemic.

Organised by local charity Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast), the three-hour show, Fast Forward 2021, featured song and dance performances.

Minister of State for Manpower and Education Gan Siow Huang was guest of honour at the event, which was held at the Singapore Manufacturing Federation Building in Bukit Merah and streamed live on Facebook.

Foreign domestic workers can view the show on their mobile devices.

In her opening address at the concert, Ms Gan acknowledged the essential role played by foreign maids in Singapore, many of whom are primary caregivers in households, and commended their support in adhering to safety measures to protect the community from Covid-19.

While it was difficult to meet up with her friends during the circuit breaker and earlier reopening phases due to the restrictions, Ms Mary Jane said it was not too stressful staying at home with Ms Lim and her four-year-old daughter.

"In phase 3, I am able to meet my friends freely but we must still practise safety measures to prevent Covid-19. I am hopeful about visiting my family back home when it is safe to travel again," she said.

Ms Lim, a human resource manager, said that she was able to manage the household last year by ensuring everyone at home followed safe distancing rules, practised proper hygiene and sanitation, and took extra precautionary measures when they received home deliveries.

"I am very thankful that everyone is healthy, and with Mary Jane around, managing the household during the pandemic is bearable," she said.

In addition to the performances, the concert also featured interactive games and information on Fast's programmes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2021, with the headline 'Concert held to lift spirits of foreign maids'. Subscribe