Maids now have a new clubhouse where they can unwind, mingle and pick up a hobby on their days off.
The 260 sq m space at 10 Raeburn Park - slightly more than twice the size of a five-room flat - is near the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, and has karaoke facilities, a library and a computer laboratory.
It was opened yesterday by a non-profit organisation, the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast). There are about 220,000 foreign domestic workers here.
Fast president Seah Seng Choon said the idea of the clubhouse was surfaced about two years ago, after the Government announced a mandatory weekly rest day for maids.
Said Mr Seah: "They need a place to gather and take part in activities on their days off. It's good for them to have a place they can call home."
His organisation is also reaching out to maids who congregate in places like Orchard Road, to encourage them to give the centre a try. The clubhouse will also be a one-stop service centre for maids.
From the middle of next month, it will introduce remittance, telecommunications and postal services. By August, it will also offer free legal counselling services, in collaboration with the Law Society of Singapore.
Mr Seah said it cost Fast $60,000 to build the centre, and that most of the furnishings and equipment, including karaoke machines and computers, were donated.
The association also pays about $9,000 a month to rent the place.
So far, about 700 maids have signed up. Membership fees are $4 a year. Members can rent facilities and sign up for classes at subsidised rates.
Shuttle services to the club, which is open daily except Saturdays, are available from Outram Park MRT station.
Indonesian Rini Kurniawati, 28, who has worked as a maid in Singapore for eight years, said she usually spends her Sundays shopping and eating in Orchard Road with her friends. "Now, there's a nice, comfortable place for us to spend our free time," she said.
This article was first published on May 26, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.