Minda enjoyed a comfortable living in Hong Kong. True, she was a domestic helper but her employers were kind and she was earning P40,000.00 a month. When her contract ended, she decided to come home for a brief vacation with her family in Palawan. She was offered a job by an illegal recruiter who promised her a good employer, a higher salary and quick deployment to Dubai, a place that she had heard good thins about.

She arrived in Dubai sometime in February 2006. Her first employer tried to sexually molest her. She complained to her agency, which transferred her to a different household. Her new employers included an indecent grandfather who kept trying ot open her door at 2 0”clock in the morning. Minda learned to slepp with a knife under her piloow and her bed against the door. Fearful for her life and honor, she called the Embassy to seek help but before it could send someone to rescue her, she was asked to pack and leave. Her agency ahd sold her contract and passport to another agency in Oman. Unwilling to go into prostitution and now having found the strength to assert her rights, her foreign agent in Oman decided to sell Minda to another agent, this time in Damascus, Syria.

Upon her arrival at the airport, immigration agents threw her in a detention cell for entering Syria without a visa. What she saw during her one-night stay in the immigration cell would stay with her for the rest of her life. On dingy walls, were SOS messages crudely written by desperate Filipinos. She also say a disheveled Filipino woman, with signs of mental illness, being mocked and played with by the guards.

The next day, Minda was released upon the intercession of a foreign broker who the sold her to a Sri Lankan. The Sri Lankan dispatched her to work as a domestic helper for a couple with six children. She was fed mostly kubos, wafer like bread that is staple fare in may Syrian households. She worked from dawn to dawn, doing everything from cutting tree branches to cleaning the entire house and feeding the children. Minda was hungry all the time, and would often buy a piece of bread when instructed to go to the market. After sealing the piece of bread in a plastic bag, she would hide it in the garden. When her employers went to sleep at night, she would sneak out of the kitchen door to get the bread hidden behind the bushes and eat it behind the locked door of the bathroom. Despite her hands bleeding from cutting tree branches and doing housework, every time Minda tried to collect on her salary, her employers would reply that they already paid $3,000 to her agent just to have her.


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