The following testimony/poem was delivered by Noani – a domestic worker from Indonesia and a member of Justice for Domestic Workers UK – at the recent OBRJustice for Domestic Workers event in London last week, on 19 June, International Domestic Workers Day:
I don’t want to remember in which year it was.
It was the time when I shut my ears to not hear
to close my eyes to not see,
to hold my tears to not cry from the pain of leaving my hometown.
My hometown you don’t know how much I miss you.
I miss your smile, your face, your voice.
I miss you when we were together sitting by the sea side, waiting for the sunrise every morning,
the birds singing…..singing the world’s song.
I see your smile, your face. I hear your voice.
Whenever I opened my eyes, I found you around.
What a peaceful life it was.
But there was no money to buy food, to buy decent clothes,
to provide my daughter and son good shelter and education.
I am uneducated for a good job.
I left you because I had to,
to make our dreams come true.
It is so hard to live far from you, and to live in a big town that treats me like a slave.
Who is not kind to me because they say I am only a maid.
I almost died of fear and depression from being mentally abused when I decided to escape.
Days, weeks, months, years passed.
If you only knew the problems I face.
My enemies are not strangers.
The law makes it difficult to find work.
I am always told “Sorry, we do not accept undocumented”.
They said I had no right to change employer as an “other worker”.
I wonder how different I am from my fellow domestic workers.
They can go and visit their hometown.
While I only look at your picture, my hometown, when I miss you.
I want to hold you in my arms.
What a life.
I am one of many domestic workers in a diplomat household who tried to speak out.
Others are scared.
Who can help me claim my rights as a worker and as a human?
Not only for me but for other domestic workers.
When they changed the immigration rules, I became hopeless.
What would be my next step?
Should I just wait for a miracle?
They said they care about human rights.
But here I am asking….where are they? I am a worker. I am human.
Don’t I deserve respect?
Am I not worthy of a warm bed other than the cold tiles of a kitchen floor?
Am I a beast that can work with almost no rest?
I am a worker. I am human. I am not a slave.
So keep still my lonely heart.
Wait until a peace of my dream comes to life.
Maybe someday I can go back.
I will hang on to every life in me for you.
You were my strength when I was weak.
You are my everything. The only ones I have.
You are the best thing I love.
Tonight, I will sleep and dream of you,
my hometown…..my children.