May is for maids as Helper Appreciation Month is launched

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

SINGAPORE - 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 in November, which focuses on men's health.

"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 in Singapore.

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 iron tests.

May 10 to 17 is Gratitude Week, with $10 manicures, free prepaid SIM cards and discounted "balikbayan" boxes. The boxes contain gifts sent home by 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.

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 learned about photography and to share these astonishing places in Singapore's older neighbourhoods".

Asked how else Singaporeans can show their appreciation to domestic helpers, Ms Coronado 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 during the themed weeks on www.sassymamasg.com