I had interviewed three women who have to work in foreign land to give better future to their children. This story was published on May 6 in theSun. Here is the full story
Headline :All For Love of Their Children
By Bissme S
Being apart from your flesh and blood is a
painful experience for any mother.
Lhea Nalam, 39, from Clark, Pampanga, in the
Philippines has to endure this misery.
Well-paid jobs were difficult to find in her
country. “I suggested to my husband that he should find a job abroad so we can give a better future to our two children,” she recalls.
Unfortunately, her husband was not too keen to
take the risk of leaving his comfortable home.
So, Lhea decided to act and found a job as a maid in Malaysia. That was in 2005. When she left home to come to Malaysia, her son, Kim Villanueva, was only seven years old then and
her daughter, Jade, a mere 11 months old.
“At the airport, Jade was crying pitifully,” Lhea
“She did not want me to leave her. She was just a toddler who needed her mother’s love.
“Seeing my daughter in tears nearly broke my heart. I was crying throughout my journey to Malaysia.”
Less than a year later, she learned that her husband had abandoned her and their two children for another woman.
Instead of giving up and wasting tears on her
misfortune, she focused her energy on work so that she could build a better future for
Because her first employer did not allow her to own a handphone, Lhea says she was only allowed to call home and speak to her children for only 15 minutes once a month.
Her first call home was filled with tears. She says:
“I was crying here, and my son was crying on the other end. I missed my son and he missed his mother. We were crying more than talking on
For the last few years, Lhea has been a freelance maid, working for several houses.
“I have the flexibility to call my children anytime I want,” she says.
She is proud that her son Kim, now 18, and her
daughter Jade, now 12, are both doing well in their
The first time she returned home was in 2015, after having been away for 10 years working in Malaysia.
“When I arrived at the airport in Manila, I recognised my son immediately,” she recalls.
“I asked my son where his sister was and he pointed to a young girl who was standing next to him.
“Can you imagine a mother not recognising her own daughter?”
Endang Setiwati, 48, from Semarang in Indonesia, was in a similar predicament. Nine years ago, her husband left her and she was left to fend for herself and their four children. Seven years ago, she came to Malaysia to work as a freelance maid. “With the better pay, I could offer a better life to my children,” she says.
“Any mother will be sad when they have to be separated from their children, and I am no different. But when I see my children living a better life, I feel my sacrifice is worth it.”
Endang keeps in touch with her children almost daily through Skype and Facebook. Every year, she returns home to spend at least two to four weeks with her family. That is the time she can lavish attention upon her children – Veranda Nilai Sari, now 25, Bobby Yanuar, 18, Brilla Anitya, 14, and nineyear-old Satrio.
She takes them to the beach, buys them gifts and cooks their favourite dishes.
“Every Mother’s Day, my children will send me beautiful greetings,” she says.
Like Endang, 38-year-old Adele Sierra, from Bacolod in the Philippines, was also forced to become the breadwinner after her husband abandoned her and their two children. She came to Malaysia to become a freelance maid in 2009. She recalls having to wait for her daughter, Mary Jane Sierra, then eight, and her son John Ardek, six, to fall asleep before leaving them to catch her flight to Malaysia. She said: “If my children were awake, they would definitely cry when they saw me leaving the house with a big bag.
“If I had seen their tears, I would not have the heart to leave them. I would definitely have cancelled my plans to work in Malaysia. ”
Adjusting to her new life in Malaysia was not easy. Adele was crying almost daily because she missed her children so much. She kept telling her employer and her other colleagues that she wanted to catch the next flight home to be back with her children.
“They told me to persevere because if I were to go home then, how would I be able to feed my children,” she recalls.
She then resolved to be strong and put her full focus on her job. Looking back now, she is glad she did not give in to her emotions. Now, her teenage children are getting good grades in school, have good food to eat and also a proper roof over their heads.
“I have to work till they graduate from college,” she says of her future plans.
For now, she gets to spend every Christmas and New Year with her children in the Philippines before returning to her job in Malaysia. She does not harbour any resentment for not being able to have her children with her all the time.
“I believe God has given me the courage to carry on with my life after my husband had left me,” she says
|Lhea... was crying her eyes out|
|Endang ... wants to give better future to her children|
|Adele ... is happy the children is doing well in school|