As the extent of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan (also called Yolanda) in the area around the Philippines city of Tacloban became clear, Transient Workers Count Too has been asked what advice we’d give to employers of domestic workers from the affected area.
The most urgent issue for workers with relatives in the storm-stricken area is finding out whether those relatives are safe and if their home is still standing. Previous experience suggests that, thanks to the widespread ownership of mobile phones, the great majority of workers should be able to do that. However, there are some employers of domestic workers who take their workers’ cellphones away from them and don’t let them use their own phones. We appeal to such employers to let their workers find out about their relatives’ position now, if they have not already done so.
Some domestic workers may ask for advances on their salaries to help get their families through this emergency. We urge their employers to consider these requests sympathetically.
Workers who have lost relatives or who have family members who were injured may want to go home to spend time with their families. We urge their employers to help them to do so and to make whatever temporary arrangements are necessary to take care of the work she would normally handle.
Finally, for workers who have experienced losses but who choose to stay in Singapore, it is important that they should have comfort and support. Sympathetic employers can be a big help, but the workers may well feel a strong need to talk with other people from their home area. We hope that their employers will take an understanding attitude towards them doing so; mostly, that will happen by phone, but it may also occur if workers see each other while walking a dog or shopping, for example. Talking can help people cope with loss.
Possibly the strongest storm ever recorded
Haiyan was possibly the most powerful typhoon ever recorded. It peaked just as it made landfall in Leyte and Samar in the Central Philippines, with sustained winds of over 301 kilometres per hour, and gusts of up to 350 kph. Whole towns have been flattened. While it is too early to provide casualty figures , early estimates suggest maybe 10,000 dead. Almost surely, there will be hundreds or thousands of domestic workers in Singapore whose families and homes have been hit.
The Singapore Red Cross has launched a public appeal for donations for Typhoon Haiyan relief.
Separately, the Filipino Family Network — an informal group of domestic workers who work closely with TWC2 — are also organising some help for families of maids in Singapore. If you wish to specifically help victims through this group, please call TWC2 and we will put you in touch with the Network. Due to the difficulty of transport of goods to affected areas, we understand that at this point, they are able only to accept monetary donations.