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Special Coronavirus Update

Please read carefully below for important information in regards to the Coronavirus and our response.

The Voice of Domestic Workers (VODW) – Response to the Coronavirus

The Voice of Domestic Workers celebrated its 11th Anniversary last 15th March 2020 with precautionary measures in response to the CV19 outbreak. All who attended were required to wash their hands once they entered the Unite the Union building in Holborn where the Sundays’ activities of VODW is held every Sunday.

The usual greetings of hugging each other and cheek-to-cheek kissing and handshakes were banned, use of serving spoons during lunch celebration was strictly used and those who were not feeling well were asked not to attend. Compulsory attendance was not enforced and anyone who was afraid to travel was encouraged to stay at home.

The Coronavirus outbreak is impacting individuals and communities which requires a collective response to fight together to heal and cure this deadly disease.

How We're Dealing with the Coronavirus:  

As of March 16th, we have received information from some of our members have been stopped by their employers, refusing to allow them to leave their houses, threatening our members saying, ‘If they dare go out, they are not to come back, and in short, they will be terminated'. VODW member Wendy told us in unexpected situations like this, that although she understands that is for the family and her own safety, ‘The problem is I couldn’t go out to buy my own food and I cannot send money for my family because “If I go out, I’m not allowed to come back”, I’ll be homeless!’

There are live-out members who have also reported to us that employers have suddenly told them not to come back. VODW member Gene said her employer told her to ‘Pack [her] things and don’t come back’. Gene continued, ‘My employer didn’t even clear if I will receive a salary or not, I am not just worried for myself but also for my family because I couldn’t remit money anymore now that I’m jobless.’

VODW member Lita is working as a live-out carer to an elderly individual and her employer has suddenly prohibited her from going home. Lita says, ‘I’m not allowed to cook or eat their food, what shall I eat?’

For domestic workers who are working part-time, this effectively makes them as "no work, no pay" workers. These uncertainties of whether or not they will still have their jobs after this pandemic are causing major problems to the mental and emotional health of migrant domestic workers who already suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and are currently accessing counselling in VODW every Sunday because of their previous exploitative and abusive poor work conditions. 

VODW management acted quickly and put out a public funding appeal to support the basic needs of our members.

Here is the link to our efforts in protecting our members to survive this crisis: support here

We are also in touch with our volunteers and other communities to ensure we can reach out to our members who need food supply at their doorstep.

Group photo during International Women's Day, 8 March 2020

Sunday Activities and Classes

We acknowledge how important our Sunday activities are in supporting, organising and empowering our members. We have developed an alternative to physical activities as part of our measures to combat CV19. Every Sunday we provide ESOL, IT Computer and Body, Mind and Wellness Workshops. We also provide every Sunday sessions for members who need counselling and our health service provided by Doctors of the World every second Sunday of the Month.

Last Sunday, March 22, we tested our on-line classes through Zoom. It took time to finally settle the learners and Tutors but it worked effectively, and although not perfectly, however, there were good classes. We don’t want our members to feel alone, isolated and vulnerable. Part of the classes is also about sharing about their situations and how they are coping. They were happy that we continue to be visible to them.

We are grateful to all our volunteer Tutors who are helping us not just with classes and training but also in their personal capacity to help and support our members. They are Robin Sivapalan and Rahul Prasad, Elija for ESOL, Elija Paul Villanueva for IT Computer, Queenie for Body, Mind and Wellness, Tanya Aritao for Finance Fitness and Aimee Laurel for Media and Communication training. We are very grateful to our Trustees who acted responsively and positively during this outbreak. We are asking everyone to act together to defeat this deadly virus.

More than ever, our collective efforts will heal and cure us all.

Screenshot of a class with Robin via Zoom

Important Coronavirus Information

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