Tag Archives: work

Housemaids Are Humans Too You Know…

8 Jan

They're human too, you know..

Often I walk into my friend’s houses and observe the way they speak to their housemaids. Some are very nice and polite to them, and there are some who are rude, bossy and aren’t very nice to them. Some people I know (who I thought are nice people) talk to their housemaids like they have no feelings!

It’s even worse when housemaids get violently treated. Their bosses can be prosecuted and be put in jail because they have gone against the human rights law. Even speaking crudely, humiliating them and other verbal abuse is supposed to be illegal. It affects the housemaids mentally or psychologically. One of the housemaids in my house used to shake and tremble when my mother called her, so my mother told her to calm down. However, she then told her that she used to be violently abused as a child, both by her own stepparents and her former boss. Her life was so hard, but now she’s much happier working in our household.

Housemaids, like all of us, are human beings too. They have feelings, they run out of energy, they can feel hurt, they can feel physical pain, they can feel tired, they also need enough rest and food. Talk to them like you would talk to your own friends, there’s nothing wrong with telling them stories, or joking them. Even though in human’s eyes they are in a different ‘status’ to us, in God’s eyes we are all the same.

Alexia.

Batik Artists: The Undervalued Cultural Heroes of Indonesia..

6 Jan

Batik is expensive.. but the artists receive awful wages

There is an article in Kompas today which made me really sad (click here to view – sorry it’s in Indonesian). The article is about how undervalued batik artists are. They work to create beautiful traditional textiles which shape the identity of this country. They work for long hours, with skill, patience and care. They receive Rp. 2,500 food money every day (25 cents), and get paid Rp. 11,000 – Rp. 25,000 per day (USD$ 1,10 – USD$ 2,50).

People are interested in batik again nowadays, some are highly priced, but some are even way too expensive. No wonder why people hesitate to buy it. But it really doesn’t make sense if  the batik artists who create batik for designers, get paid a very small wage.

The low wage for batik artists slows down the regeneration process. No matter how much they love batik, batik artists need to feed their families and earn a living. Can’t they get paid more? I can’t believe batik artists get paid next to nothing, and soap opera stars make a fortune. They’re both artists, they both have skills, both of their products create a lot of money. But why are batik artists less valued?

A number of successful artists out there can create tens or hundreds of millions of rupiah for one painting (and not all artists are that successful), however batik artists can never earn that much, even though they work every day, they constantly create and produce batik everyday. They are humans who need to earn a living, don’t treat them like factory machines.

Batik artists are the cultural heroes of this country. Same as tenun, songket, keris, wayang artists (and sooo much more). If we want batik to keep on existing and be preserved, we should start raising their wages, start valuing them more. Why is batik in the shopping malls so expensive, but the people who actually create the textiles are paid next to nothing? Who’s earning all the profits here?

Alexia.

University Years Are The Years When We Are Supposed to Grow Up

1 Jan

Mummy's girl wants some more money..

I spent four years studying in Melbourne. I never expected to see that many Indonesians studying in that city. They were everywhere, and most of them had a very comfortable environment and lifestyle. My parents gave me a strict budget, my rent should not exceed $600 per month. So I had to live in a humble share house where I shared the electricity and gas bills.

However, I used to see so many Indonesian students shopping any chance they had (and the things they bought weren’t that cheap either!). It seemed as if they never ran out of money. They lived in high-class apartments – all they did was call home and asked for more money if they ran out of it. I felt annoyed. Aren’t you supposed to learn how to save money while you’re still studying? Aren’t you supposed to learn how to be independent, learn how to solve problems? But these students seemed like their life had no challenge. When they were supposed to be focusing on their subjects, learning about life, they’re off shopping. No challenge at all, they’re already living in a nice apartment, with a car bought by their parents.

I used to be so wasteful. I spent so much money on things I didn’t even need, and of course my mother yelled at me through the phone, even though she was 5000 miles away in Indonesia. But she taught me that while I’m overseas, I was there to study to become somebody. It wasn’t a holiday, it wasn’t a time to shop. I was there to focus on my studies. It’s the time for me to grow up. So I decided to get a job. Through my university years, I worked as a childcare worker, a bread shop attendant, a barista, the university gallery front office volunteer, and also a retail salesperson. I gained a lot more friends, many experiences and money that I earned myself. I was old enough to help my parents financially, and so could the other university students.

Alexia.