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Goh Yan Han
The Straits Times
Nov 26, 2023
To show their appreciation and gratitude to their helper Rana Mamta, Mr Joseph Harison and his wife Leens Joseph bought her a studio flat in her home town of Darjeeling, India, in 2021.
The couple, who have two children aged 14 and eight, had hired Ms Mamta in 2015 during a time of need.
Mr Harison was hospitalised after a seizure, and Ms Joseph was pregnant with their second child.
“We had so many problems, and she came to my home, talked to me and even prayed together with me,” said Ms Joseph, adding that Ms Mamta, 43, is “one of the greatest things that has happened in our lives”.
The family now goes with Ms Mamta to her church every week.
“We are blessed to have her. She is the manager of our house,” said Mr Harison, 48, a civil servant.
In Darjeeling, Ms Mamta used to stay with her friends or church members. She has no siblings, and both her parents are dead.
“She came to Singapore with nothing, so we wanted to help secure her future,” said Ms Joseph, 45, who works in the operations team at Changi General Hospital. The flat cost the couple about $45,000.
The whole family even flew to Darjeeling in 2022 for a house-warming celebration for Ms Mamta when her flat was completed.
Ms Mamta said she is grateful to be treated like part of the family.
Ms Joseph said: “She is our first helper and the last”. She added that Ms Mamta is very good with the children.
The close relationship between Ms Mamta and her employer was recognised on Nov 26 as the pair received the Exemplary Migrant Domestic Worker and Employer Award.
They were among 18 pairs who received the award at the third annual Migrant Domestic Worker and Employer Appreciation Day event organised by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast).
A local charity, Fast advocates for and provides social support services, training and activities for domestic workers here.
About 2,000 helpers and their employers attended the event held at the MOM Services Centre in Bendemeer Road.
Thirty helpers will get training in eldercare skills after receiving the Fast-Sheng Siong scholarship at the event.
There were about 268,500 migrant domestic workers in Singapore as at December 2022.
Another pair recognised on Nov 26 were Ms Pothupitiya Gamathige Kusumawathie, 67, and her employer Kewaljeet Kaur, 55, an office manager.
Ms Kusuma, who is from Sri Lanka, has been with the family for 30 years since 1993. “I’m very happy, my employer takes care of me well, and the two girls that I’ve seen grow up, their husbands also love me,” she said. Ms Kaur’s daughters are now 30 and 29.
Ms Kaur said the most important thing was that she could fully trust Ms Kusuma “100 per cent to basically run our lives”.
“She supported us in every way from when I was a young mum, so I could continue with my work. Over the years, she grew to be part of our family,” she added.
Ms Kusuma, who would learn recipes on YouTube and tweak them as she went along, created a family-favourite chicken biryani that is often requested for at special occasions like birthdays. She has been making the dish for about 15 years.
“I cannot let go of this family, especially the two girls. I love them like my children and I want to see them have their own children,” she said.