Friday, May 24, 2013

Conversation overheard

It was a lull period in the salon, and a group of manicurists sat around chatting. One was having a long-distance phone conversation with her daughter, explaining to her why she should not have stolen money. As she put down the phone in exasperation, she explained that it was difficult to discipline her younger daughter as she left her country to work in Singapore since the girl was very young, while the rest of the family remained in their home country. Another manicurist shared that she had the same experience, as she left her baby behind when he was only 40 days old. The conversation then wandered into a comparison of the cheapest way to call home, and I was left alone with my own thoughts.

Sometimes people carry out their daily activities while harboring quiet tragedy, and it takes unguarded moments like this to allow others a glimpse into their private struggles. In these migrant mothers’ efforts to provide more for their dearest, they ironically have to suffer estrangement from them, as well as the dreariness of working long hours in a strange land.

The media, both mainstream and on the Internet, often present these foreign workers in terms of statistics – the percentage they make up in our workforce, and the pay they receive relative to locals. Then there are the occasional hostile murmurings, rumblings of unfair competition. Fortunately, open xenophobia is not socially approved in Singapore. It must never be. Whatever political leanings one has, do not forget that each of these workers made immense sacrifice to come here, and who does not want to have a better life if they could help it? 

1 comment:

Rabbits' Guy said...

Same here with undocumented workers from Mexico trying to make more money and improve their lives.