Two weekends ago I was at the aidha graduation when I was listening to the newest batch of domestic workers give speeches about their remarkable journey towards self-empowerment. These women, who were raised with limited opportunity, spoke with the kind of courage that creates it; the kind of courage that endures against the self-destructive demons of discrimination and doubt; the kind of courage impartial to upbringing. Sometimes it’s the kind of courage we forget to have.
So, I sat there thinking about how we — the filipino domestic worker and me, the newborn expat– were not very different from each other.
We both left Manila in pursuit of a promising future. Our suitcases were heavy with the stories that brought us to Singapore; chapters worth of family, friends and dreams.
However, I have the bachelors degree, she doesn’t.
I live with my sister, and she doesn’t.
She discovers, only months after arriving in Singapore, that her husband found another woman. She contemplates committing suicide.
Yet despite these circumstances she stands proudly on stage. She speaks of the business plan she learned how to write through aidha (a micro-business school for domestic workers); of her ability to now speak impromptu in front of an audience of volunteers, expats and representatives from the embassy; of learning how to use the computer.
While I sat there in the auditorium listening to her story, I found strength.
I remembered how six months ago I wrote about how living abroad makes people more acutely aware of their demons. As a fresh grad in pursuit of my dreams, I am accountable for reaching them.
The twenty-somethings of my generation fear about being in the wrong career path; that we might not be resilient enough to weather the storm. Some let our college course or lack of experience be the greatest bias, telling us that we’re not good enough to venture out of our comfort zone. But six months in I realized that shallow water is made of excuses.
I know it can be scary to venture into the horizon, but the woman on stage reminds me that the only way to sail past our limitations is with courage.