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More than a domestic worker

In 2006, Emelia, 47 had to undergo a cornea transplant after scarring her cornea while cooking. The scarring caused her to lose her sight in one eye temporarily. Supported by her employer, she was able to undergo a cornea transplant and regain her sight. Although being temporarily blind in one eye, Emelia found a renewed sense of purpose and meaning to her life.

“After my transplant, a priest told me not to be sad about my situation. Instead, he said that God had given my sight back and I should strive to be a light to others.” Emelia remarked.

Before arriving in Singapore in 1999, Emelia was a teacher in Ilo-Ilo, Philippines. “The salary I was getting was not enough to support my parents and nieces, so I made a difficult decision to leave and come to Singapore to work.” In Singapore, Emelia came to work as a foreign domestic helper (FDW) for a Singaporean family. “My employers were very open to me and cared for me. I appreciate that.” “The family are Catholics and would invite me to go for mass with them.” She has since worked for this same employer for the last 21 years.

Through the encouragement of her employer, Emelia enrolled for the Small Business course at ACMI. After finishing her course, she decided to become a befriender at ACMI. Soon, she was urged by the coordinators to volunteer at the admin office as they noticed her strength in English and ability to befriend others.

“As I began meeting other foreign domestic workers, I was motivated to tell them not to waste their time on off days but to take up courses and improve themselves. If they were Christians, I would also urge them to spend time with God and go to church.”

This call to be a light to others was again reaffirmed at a formation programme organised by ACMI with Couples for Christ (CFC) called “Abundant and Better Life Abroad (ABbA)” in 2018. “I was again reminded of the words of the priest and also discovered a deeper sense of myself and my relationship with God.” “It inspired me to want other foreign domestic workers to grow spiritually and in their relationship with God. Most importantly, I would like to encourage them to build stronger relationships with their family and children back home and not be distracted by temptations.”

Emelia participating in an ice breaker at AbBA


After AbBA, Emelia went ahead to encourage two AbBA participants to deepen their faith through a follow up program, Christian Life Program (CLP) and these two were eventually baptized into the Catholic Church this Easter.

Emelia with Aiza whom she met at AbBA and had encouraged to deepen her faith.


Before hurrying off to her other duties, Emelia said “All we need to do is to place our hope in Jesus, who loves us and knows us. That is all we really need.”

To find out more about the AbBA programme for Foreign Domestic Workers, email or call us at 6801 7400.

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