After speaking with @roselifecoach some time ago, I decided to put my sensitivity into good use to perhaps notice those who are in the background work, since I also love real life stories.
Be sensitive in a good sense: Notice the unnoticed who have been serving faithfully.
I started this series with an intention to highlight and appreciate those who are working hard, putting in their efforts wholeheartedly and feature them in my blog posts so they can shine in this platform! The post payout for this series will be given to the person featured as their tips or appreciation in whichever forms that would be convenient with them, as some of them are hired under contract with foreign agencies, so I have to speak with their employer too.
I knew Lasmene as my student's home helper. She is from Palembang, Indonesia. Because my student isn't too fluent in Malay, I became their translator in the beginning when she first came.
Lasmene is a very vibrant and emotional person. Her joy and sorrow are all written on her face. She easily tears, so when I told her that I want to write about her life story, she cried. She said, "Aiyo, tanta ni buat saya nangis." (meaning wow, what you are doing make me cry). However this is not the first time I saw her cry so I know she is easily overwhelmed by her emotions which I know she is a emotionally sensitive person. She is also easily frightened, which my student always disturbs and plays with her. They have quite a good relationship, so much so that my student is reluctant to let her return to her homeland after 2 years working with her family.
Lasmene is very good in replicating any food she has eaten before. She can easily make biscuits and snacks for the family. She is also very good with children and they love her. When she said she needed to stop after the contract ends and is unable to continue, the 2-year-old girl she is looking after said "NO!"
Lasmene's real life story
I learnt of her story some time ago, because she chats with me quite a bit before and after class. The first time I heard about it, my heart already went out to her. I always wish I can do something for her.
Lasmene is 37 years old this year. 2 years ago, she gave birth to her youngest child, who is now also 2 years old. When the baby was 2 months old, she had to leave her homeland and signed herself up with the foreign helper agency to work in Malaysia for the sake of earning a living. Before that, she was a happy homemaker at home, taking care of her now 11-year-old son and her newborn.
All this changed when her husband who was a construction worker, driving the truck for carrying sand met a terrible accident and had a head on crash with a car. He died. It was a tragedy for the family and the baby was only less than a month old. 40 days after his death, Lasmene made the toughest decision in her life, which was to leave her children behind and work here because of the slightly higher exchange rate and they needed money badly.
Lasmene's dad couldn't let her go, because her baby was very young and was still breastfeeding. Knowing how soft her heart is, she had to harden it to leave her baby behind with her elder sister. When she was leaving, he was sleeping in the cradle. (Oh, I can't imagine this, too heart-wrenching!) Her eldest child tugged her shirt and almost tore it, not wanting to let her go. She held her tears and moved into the car. Her agent saw her crying badly in the car and told her, "It is hard, so make it worth. Work wholeheartedly, do not try to run away (common case of helpers running away after arriving at a foreign land). You will bring back money for them." Those were the words that gave her the determination to strive on.
The whole time she is here, she couldn't bear to hear the voice of her youngest baby, nor have a video call with him. She was too afraid that after seeing him, she cannot focus in working and would want to go home to him. I tried to persuade her to just see him so he knows his mum, but she said she cannot. So much so that now her baby who is 2, refuses to call her ibu (mother in Indonesian Malay) but he calls her sister that. They corrected him back home but he still yet to see his real mother. Of course, it hurts Lasmene but she is determined to just pull through another two months here and she will be back for good. Another reason she doesn't dare to look at her child is also because everyone says he looks so much like her late husband. Of course she misses him and she knows she will always have their children to remember him.
The struggle is she wants to go back to see them but still come back to work. However, her elder sister is now pregnant and she doesn't want to leave her child raising with her sister to burden her anymore so even though she still want to earn more she has decided she needs to be back. She rests her case and knows finally she can bring back some cash to ease their living a bit.
Lasmene is a very inspiring woman. Despite the family tragedy, she let it turn around to become a strength to push her on. She didn't let grief take over her, but she lives on in the memory of her husband. Lasmene is a very reliable helper as she would take the family she works with as her own. She protects the family and she serves them with a very good heart. She even learnt some Chinese words to speak with them and boy, she is a fast learner. She takes very good care of my student's old great grandma. They would sit down and chit chat together very often.
Besides that, she is a very happy and positive person, always laughing and smiling. Because she gives great responses, my student loves to play and joke with her. Even I like to talk with her. She always protects me from their big dogs, even though sometimes she is also scared, Hahaha.
After she is gone, I think I will miss her presence. Such a nice woman, she is.
If you would like to "reward" this diligent woman, you may consider upvoting this post. I hope to collect a good amount to top up her salary for her to bring a decent amount back home. Thank you for reading and participating.
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Animation By @zord189