Emily and Mae share about what makes their working relationship thrive in this edition of Helping Hands
In every relationship, finding ways to grow and learn, mutually understand and appreciate one another is always an important work in progress. As one would expect, employing a full-time, live-in domestic worker in your home and integrating them into your family is a unique relationship with many different layers. Emily wrote in to share about her relationship with her domestic helper, Mae. Their story is filled with a deep respect and admiration for one another. In this edition of Helping Hands, we dive into their story with the hope that many of us who employ a helper will take time today to say thank you for his/her dedication and love.
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Tell us a little bit about yourself! What brought you to Hong Kong?
My husband I are a college sweethearts. We originally relocated from our home in the USA to Singapore in 2010. Our move back then was due to work, and for the same reason we relocated to Shanghai in 2014 and then Hong Kong in early 2016. We both grew up in very small communities, and now we live in an apartment complex with more residents than each of our hometowns! Our son was born while we were living in Shanghai and we marvel at what a different childhood he has here than we did growing up in little towns in the USA.
What made you decide to hire a domestic worker?
Hiring a domestic worker was a choice we made so my husband and I can both work. Daycare options are limited here and since I often work from home, it maximises time with our son if he is also cared for in our house. Mae was the only applicant we interviewed! We had a great feeling about her after our first meeting and made an offer quickly. She was wise (and less impulsive!) and attended other interviews she’d already scheduled, but fortunately chose us as her employers. It is such a pleasure sharing our home with her and I feel lucky that we can benefit both from her experience raising her own children and her previous work here in Hong Kong. She’s also an excellent and creative cook and who puts up with our “picky” eating. In the past year we’ve dabbled in vegetarianism, tried the paleo diet, and then when I fell pregnant with our second child, I suddenly disliked almost everything!
What is something you appreciate and respect about Mae?
Mae clearly loves my son, Charlie, and I deeply appreciate how wonderfully she cares for him. Mae has three children at home in the Philippines. I have tremendous respect for the sacrifice she makes by working abroad and sharing her love with another child in order to provide her family with a better future. She is also really engaging and creative with my son. Thanks to Mae, he knows loads of children’s songs, can count and identify colours, loves to read story books, and tidies up his toys like a champ.
What’s something little that Mae does regularly that means a lot to you?
She asks questions! Mae clearly has a passion for learning and she also isn’t afraid to speak up if there’s something she’s curious about or doesn’t understand. Thanks to her natural inquisitiveness we’ve had some great discussions and avoided any misunderstandings, resulting in a very smooth relationship since she came to work for our family. We’ve learned a lot from each other in the past year, on topics ranging anywhere from unique ingredients, to geography, superstitions, and home remedies to soothe my son’s frequent colds.
Tell us about a special moment between you and Mae.
This is a really tiny thing… but it meant a lot to me and my husband. A few weeks ago, Mae tried a new cauliflower-based recipe for dinner. It was delicious as usual, and we let her know we’d love for her to cook it again. The next day I happened to ask a question about the ingredients in the dish, and Mae wound up explaining to me how and why she’d found the recipe. Since my husband has been trying to avoid eating grains, it turns out Mae had researched good substitutes for things like rice. I like to encourage Mae to cook dishes she’ll enjoy eating herself and try not to inconvenience her with too many of our dietary restrictions. Although I’d asked her to make dishes that my husband could eat without grains, I didn’t expect her to go above and beyond and research new foods and recipes for us. I was really touched that she took the time to investigate foods that would support his diet!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your family and where you’re originally from?
Hi, I’m Mae from the Philippines. I’m a mother of three adorable kids. I have one daughter and two sons. I studied B.S. Accountancy when I was in college, but I didn’t finish it. Before I came here in Hong Kong, I worked as a full-time mother while selling fresh seafood in the market. Being a mother of three kids is not that easy, it’s not about yourself anymore. All my plans and dreams in the future are for them. I want to give them a better future. My daughter is in Grade 9, my other daughter is in Grade 7, and the youngest is in Grade 3. Even though it’s difficult for me to leave them, I decided to apply to Hong Kong. I left my kids to my parents and they are the ones who are taking care of them.
How many years have you been in Hong Kong?
I have been working in Hong Kong for six years.
When did you join the family you’re working with?
I’ve been working for this family since July 2016.
What is something you enjoy about your job?
For me, if you’re surrounded with people who have a good heart, the people who trust and believe in you, and understand your weaknesses as well, you have no reason not to enjoy it, and that’s my employer. I enjoy every minute working with Emily and Chris because they treat me as part of their family.
They have a son named Charlie. He’s so adorable and sweet. And like his parents, he’s very nice and kind too. He always hugs and kisses me. I love him so much the way I love my kids too. I can see him growing up to be a very kind and loving person. I’m so blessed for being part of their family. I always give thanks to the Lord for giving me such a wonderful employer.
Tell us about a special moment between you and Emily.
For me, everyday is a special moment for me and Emily. Everyday we highly appreciate each other. They don’t fail to say thank you even for the smallest thing I’ve done for them. They give me gifts and cards for every special occasion. The thoughts they write inside the cards are full of appreciation and love. They are generous and kind-hearted. They allow me to go back home in the Philippines at least twice a year and pay all my expenses. They also increased my salary which is a big help to my family. I can count on them during those times that I need help.
Emily and Chris’ parents are very kind and wonderful people too. No wonder that Chris and Emily grew up as kind and loving people. I know I’m not the best helper in town, but I try my very best to make them happy. They’re the best employer for me and I’m very proud of them.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time/day off?
I spend my day off most of the time in going to church and hiking. First, I go to church to give thanks for all the blessing that God has given to me. And pray to all the people who are always there for me. Second, I go hiking because I love to explore the beauty of nature here in Hong Kong. It makes me feel relaxed. Sometimes I eat with friends and exchange ideas about our job.
Read more: Family Friendly Hikes in Hong Kong
What is something you wish families in Hong Kong knew about domestic helpers?
I wish that families of Hong Kong would know about our sacrifices being far away from our loved ones. We work hard to take care of our employer’s kids and do the all around household works so that they will be free to do everything they want because they knew that they have helper they can trust and rely on. But we can be overworked and unappreciated. Our value shouldn’t be underestimated because they will not be successful in their career and their businesses without our help.
We need them to treat us with kindness and respect which will make our lives happy as their helper, despite being far away from our loved ones. We just want to make their life easy, happy, and healthy through our hard work to do everything we could as a good helper. We’re doing our work with love and compassion to make our employers happy and satisfied. Mutual respect and understanding between the employer and helper is very important. Thanks!