Host of activities in May to show gratitude to maids

Parenting website Sassy Mama Singapore is organising an initiative called Helper Appreciation Month in May to raise awareness of maids' working conditions, their sacrifices, and their social and legal challenges.
Parenting website Sassy Mama Singapore is organising an initiative called Helper Appreciation Month in May to raise awareness of maids' working conditions, their sacrifices, and their social and legal challenges.PHOTO: SASSYMAMASG.COM

Throughout next month, domestic helpers here will be able to enjoy activities and services specially organised to thank them for their contributions.

Helper Appreciation Month is a new initiative organised by parenting website Sassy Mama Singapore - extending its previous one-day event to a full month to raise awareness of maids' working conditions, their sacrifices, and their social and legal challenges.

Sassy Mama senior editor Kate McFarlane said she hopes to see the month become part of the annual calendar - like Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and Movember, which focuses on men's health, in November.

"It's not focused on pulling down any person, organisation or government. It's about raising the barometer of collective goodness, and drawing out the best of willing people," said Ms McFarlane.

"As a parenting website, we feel it's really important to set this example for our children."

A similar initiative has been held in Hong Kong since 2015, and the resident who started it, Mr Steve Chitty, approached Sassy Mama to see how it could be done here.

May was chosen as it includes Labour Day on May 1, Mother's Day on the second Sunday, the United Nations International Day of Families on May 15 and Kindness Day SG on May 24.

There will be four themed weeks with different services and activities available. May 3 to 10 will be Healthcare Week, offering health screenings, mammograms, eye examinations and discounted tests to check for iron deficiency.

May 10 to 17 is Gratitude Week, with $10 manicures, free prepaid SIM cards and discounted balikbayan boxes. Balikbayan boxes contain gifts sent home from Filipinos based outside their country.

May 17 to 24 will be Education Week, with special rates for registration for courses such as financial planning, first aid, eldercare and beauty and cosmetology.

ENCOURAGING GOOD DEEDS

It's not focused on pulling down any person, organisation or government. It's about raising the barometer of collective goodness, and drawing out the best of willing people.

SASSY MAMA SENIOR EDITOR KATE MCFARLANE, on the Helper Appreciation Month initiative.

Finally, May 24 to 31 will be Fun Week, with activities including free gym sessions with social enterprise FreeSpirits and a photography walk around Singapore.

The month will end with a party on June 1 at the Australian International School. Over 300 people attended the party last year.

Domestic helper Mayrhose Coronado, 33, who is from the Philippines and has worked in Singapore for nine years, is most interested in the financial education classes.

"It is crucial to know how to handle your own money and to start saving before you plan to go back to your home country," she said.

She is also looking forward to organising the photography walk for fellow helpers, to "share what I've learnt about photography and to share these astonishing places in Singapore's older neighbourhoods".

Asked how else Singaporeans can show their appreciation to domestic helpers, she said hearing words such as "thank you" and "please", or "good morning" with a smile, would be nice.

"I do believe that a little kindness goes a long way," she said.

More information on the activities available will be posted on www.sassymamasg.com during the themed weeks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2019, with the headline 'Host of activities in May to show gratitude to maids'. Print Edition | Subscribe