It's never easy being apart from family.
Seeing how disappointed his domestic helper got after learning that her trip home to the Philippines had to be postponed, one employer decided to fly her children to Singapore so that her family could be reunited during the holidays.
The employer, Zach Leong, explained why he decided to surprise his helper, Erma, in a lengthy Facebook post on Tuesday (Dec 6). He also documented the heartwarming reunion on video.
Leong, who owns a bakery, shared that Erma hadn't seen her two children, 18-year-old Lizel and nine-year-old Liezoo, for six years.
After Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed in Singapore this year, she was looking forward to flying home and spending Christmas with them.
Unfortunately, Leong's wife and second son had to travel to Switzerland in December, as the boy was training for a competition.
Unable to take care of the household chores and three young children by himself, Leong had no choice but to ask Erma to postpone her trip.
"She spoke to her kids and told me that it's okay, she would postpone her trip to June.
"Her eyes showed some disappointment as they value Christmas and new year as an important festive season for the family [sic]," he wrote.
In the video, Erma was seen running towards Lizel and Liezoo and embracing them as they arrived at Changi Airport. She then introduced them to Leong's children, and the group spent some time exploring the adjoining mall.
Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, Leong shared that Erma has been working for his family for five years.
"I'm very thankful for everything that she's done for our family, that's why I thought of bringing her children to Singapore for the holidays. My wife is supportive of my decision."
While planning the surprise for Erma, Leong initially set aside a budget of $1,000.
"When I was buying the air tickets, I realised that flights in December are very expensive. [Erma's children] also needed to apply for passports, visas and get travel insurance. The total came up to about $3,000, which is about four or five months' of Erma's salary," he told Shin Min.
Despite going way over his budget, Leong said he has no regrets.
"There have been many cases of maids being beaten, scolded or belittled in Singapore. I would like to tell everyone that being a maid is just a job. Maids are good helpers. We should show love and respect to each other."
AsiaOne has reached out to Leong for further comment.
Just two months ago, a Singaporean couple also planned a special surprise for their Indonesian helper during their vacation to Bali.
Theinesh Pac arranged a family reunion for her, and in a TikTok video, she was seen breaking down in tears as she embraced loved ones whom she hadn't seen in three years.
"She's been so good to us and our kids so we decided to surprise her on our Bali trip and flew her sister's family and daughter in to join us," said Theinesh.