Expat journalist in SG writes about his kids’ Pinay nanny

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If all employers would show this much respect and concern for their workers, the world would be a much better place.

Rob O’Brien — an expat who is working as a journalist in Singapore — wrote a moving piece for the website, Medium.

The focus of O’Brien’s piece, which was published on Jun 15, was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) named Marifel, who works as his kids’ nanny.

O’Brien highlights the fact that he is aware that Marifel had to leave her own kids so she could raise his. The title of his piece announces this: “Marifel: the woman who left her children behind to look after mine.”

O’Brien reveals how he met Marifel. “I hired her back in 2010 when I moved to Singapore with my wife and baby to work as a journalist. She first started working in Singapore 11 years ago. The decision to leave her family and move overseas wasn’t made by choice, but necessity. Daily life had become a struggle for her family: on occasion they ran out of milk and food for their children; sometimes they couldn’t pay their electricity bill. In the end, something — or rather someone — had to give,” he explained.

He then pointed out the fact that so many others like Marifel are vulnerable to abuse. O’Brien noted: “Women like Marifel leave their children behind to work in a system that still allows daily restrictions on their movement (some are locked into their homes), limits on their ability to communicate with their families (mobile phones regularly get confiscated) and, in some cases, subject them to serious abuse?”

While it’s easy for employers to sweep these issues under the rug, O’Brien deserves to be commended for his effort to give workers like Marifel a face and a voice.  

Photo: Rob O’Brien (screengrab of detail from larger photo)


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