Published: Thursday 14 December, 2017

OFW Domestic Helper in Brazil Ate Dog Food to Survive Employer’s Maltreatment

A Filipina domestic worker’s working conditions in Brazil was akin to modern slavery. The OFW domestic helper was overworked and locked inside her employer’s house. Much worse, she had to eat dog food to survive because the ration she was given by her employer was not enough!

OFW domestic helper

OFW domestic helper ‘Maria’ describing her ordeal in Brazil to the BBC. (Screen grab/BBC)

This was what a BBC article on a Filipina domestic helper is Brazil exposed. She is Maria (not her real name), a 40-year old Filipina who went to Brazil so that she would have money to send home to her family, including two daughters who have cardiac disease.

Maria told the BBC that she almost took her life by jumping out of the seventh floor apartment of her employer out of loneliness and desperation. But the thought of leaving her family who depended on her and the money she sent home changed her mind. She had to survive. She could not give up.

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Maria’s day included taking care of her employer’s three sons. But that’s not all. She was also tasked to clean the big apartment which the BBC described as having a “large dining room, a living room and four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom.” She also did the laundry and walked the dog.

Sometimes Maria would not even have time to eat because of the work she was asked to do. Her female employer stayed at home and watched her every move. Sometimes, when her employer didn’t like her work, she asked Maria to do it all over again. One time, when Maria had finished her ironing, she looked for more clothes for her to press.

And when she had time to eat, the food in always not enough. Tired and lonely, Maria said she was often weak. She soon found a way to have more food – by eating dog food.

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The OFW domestic helper said she was cooking meat for the family’s dog and decided to eat half of it. She had  no choice. She was hungry and wanted to survive for her family’s sake.

And when she found herself locked in when her employer’s family went out, Maria knew she had to leave soon because she was not merely an employee, she was a modern-day slave!

The domestic helper escaped early one morning while the family was still asleep. Maria then sought shelter at a non-government organisation run by a local priest.

Maria is one of the lucky ones. According to the BBC, there are more Filipina domestic helpers in the same condition who are still being maltreated by their employers.