5 maids in 5 years

File photo of a maid and her elderly employer.

SINGAPORE - Mr Rizal, 35, and his wife Siti, 33, have gone through five domestic workers in five years.

They request that we do not use their real names as they are civil servants and do not have permission to speak to the media.

The maids, all from Indonesia, were hired to keep house and look after two young children.

All broke their contracts after a few months.

The first and third maids went home because they became ill.

The second maid went home as "she was caught canvassing the neighbourhood, asking residents and shopkeepers for money," Mr Rizal tells The New Paper on Sunday.

His fourth maid ran off to the Indonesian embassy after her request to return home was denied.

Their fifth maid, Suzy, 24, came to work for them in December last year and for two months, she was terribly homesick.

"It was her first time out of her village and she was miserable. She missed her parents and would cry," Madam Siti says.

"She became calmer after speaking to her father on the phone the first few days and was able to manage."

But last Saturday, when the family was out at a children's party, Suzy packed her bags and left.

"She had ransacked a drawer to look for the key to the cupboard where her passport, work permit and ATM card were kept," Mr Rizal says.

"But to her credit, she didn't touch any of my jewellery which is kept in the same cupboard," Madam Siti adds.

The couple later found a calendar that Suzy had used as her diary. She had marked off the days, counting down to the end of her two-year contract.

"She had written how much she missed home and was asking why she had to come out to work.

"We also found a note on the same calendar where she wrote 'I'm sorry'," Mr Rizal says.

He made a police report the same day Suzy went missing.

"I was later told that Suzy had flown out of Singapore but there were no other details," he says.

Madam Siti says: "We had been very understanding towards Suzy.

"We might have reprimanded her when she made mistakes but we never touched her. We do not know why she must do this."

Mr Rizal is left with a debt of about $2,700 - out of the original $3,600 that Suzy had borrowed to work here.

He has little hope of recovering this amount now.

A check with several maid agencies reveals that maid insurance covers workplace injuries and hospitalisation, not the loan should the maid default.

The couple have applied to hire their next maid. When she comes, they will have to fork out a lump sum again and take on responsibility for her loan.

"It's really not fair, but what I can do? We really need help to look after the kids because their grandparents don't live with us," says Mr Rizal.

juditht@sph.com.sg

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