The undersigned is pleased to have had the opportunity to interview some young Javanese women who wish to work in Singapore. However, only 6 were chosen, just to be sure that they will meet the expections of our local employers. Well, they all have work experience, either in Jakarta or overseas, especially in the Middle-east: Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Those who went to work in the Middle-east started out knowing not a word of Arabic but ended up communicating with their host family in Arabic and probably some hand gestures too.

And if they could learn to speak Arabic, they surely can learn to speak English, as one learnt to speak Mandarin while working in Taiwan. In fact they are in a better position to learn to speak English than Arabic.

If they could learn Arabic in the Middle-east and Mandarin in Taiwan, they can learn to speak English, especially if there are children in the family.

At the training centre, they not only learnt to cook Chinese food, yes, Chinese food (they know that the majority of employers in Singapore are Chinese), they also learn other household chores and, they are taught English too.

This interviewer stayed at the training centre for 3 days and what he observed tells him this agency is the right one to work with. He was surprised when he woke up early in the morning around 4 a.m., yes, 4 a.m., to find the training centre a hive of activity! After that the trainees had a simple breakfast (nasi lemak is a common dish here as is also fried chicken and chicken curry) they head for the classroom where they are taught simple English.

The trainees cook their own meals, under the supervision of the instructor. And now they are raring to work in Singapore.

Yours truly did video recording of the applicants while interviewing them. The purpose of the recording is to let employers see (and hear) for themselves how well the trainees have learnt their English lessons.

When the video is uploaded, employers will be able to see for themselves. Please come back for more information regarding the video recording.

Meanwhile, please look at their profiles below.

Yours truly,
Karl the Interviewer
aka Tan Kah Siong
Registration: R1106061

Romiyani, aged 31, is from West Java. She has had 9 years of formal education, 1 year more than MOM's education requirement. She is second among 5 in the family but the eldest among the girls. Being the eldest girl in the family, she was exposed to household chores from an early age. As a result of this informal "training" she successfully completed her very first contract in Kuwait. (More below)

Work Experience

  1. Five years ago, when she was only 26, she went work in Kuwait where she worked for 2 years (2012 - 2014) for Abdul. Her major duty was to take care of Abdul's mother, a stroke patient. Besides taking care of the old lady, she also did the cooking, cleaning and laundry/ironing.

  2. She also worked in Taiwan taking care of Granny who was in her 90's and also performing the household chores: cooking, cleaning, laundry and marketing. A year after she started work, Granny passed away and Romiyani left.
Romiyani can cook Indonesian food. In Kuwait she learnt to cook Arabic food and in Taiwan she learnt to cook Chinese food. One does not master a cuisine in one or two years, but she is willing to learn.

Proficiency in English
She was able to speak simple English and this interviewer was able to communicate with her in a mixture of English and Malay. After 3 years overseas she managed to communicate with her host family. She should be able to make it here.

Suskonani (Nani for short), aged 24, is from West Java. She is single; she has 9 years of formal education, one year more than is required by MOM to be eligible to work in Singapore.

Work Experience

  1. Young as she is, Nani has already worked in Jakarta for three years. Her employer Lilian Yang (not her real name) was a working mother and left care of her 5-year old daughter to Nani. Other duties Nani performed included cooking, cleaning and laundry/ironing.

Nani can cook Indonesian food but during the three years she was with Lilian she learnt to cook Chinese food from Madam and was able to cook indepently during her tenure.

She names steamed fish, fried chicken and fried vegetables among the dishes she can cook. The list is short, probably because she does not know the names of the dishes. For when the instruction is informal, the name of the dish is often just glossed over.

Proficiency in English
Nani is able communicate in simple in English (with Indonesian/Malay thrown in now and then). She should be able to pick up enough English within a couple of months.

Wenti, aged 30, is from West Java. She has 9 years of formal education, 1 year more than MOM's education requirement. She has 2 elder brothers and 1 younger sister.

Work Experience
Wenti has worked in the Middle-east for 4½ years in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait.

  1. From 2002 to 2004 she worked for 2½ years in Kuwait for a family of four which included two teenaged children. Her duties were cooking, cleaning and laundry/ironing.

    In Kuwait she learnt to speak Arabic, enough to communicate with her host families.

  2. After a lapse of 6 years, she went to Abu Dhabi where her duties were care of a 3-year and cooking, cleaning and laundry. Here the medium of communication was Arabic (like in Kuwait).

Wenti can cook Indonesian food; in the Middle-east she learnt to cook Arabic food and one of the dishes she cooked for her host families included briyani rice and a couple of tongue-twisters.

She was confident enough to say that she cooks well! Actually Mrs Training Centre owner took Wenti under her wings and taught her one-on-one to cook some of her own favourite dishes.

Proficiency in English
She is able to speak English relatively well (compared with others in the same group) and she should not have any problem of communicating with members of her host family in Singapore. She got by for 4 years in the Middle-east and learnt Arabic! She learnt enough Arabic there. Her proficiency in English should improve for she is starting from a higher base.

It was a pleasure to interview her.

Kadmi is 30 years old and a mother of a 10-year old boy. Her husband, a farmer, will take care the boy while she is working in Singapore, as he did when she worked in the Middle-east.

Work Experience
Kadmi has worked abroad in Qatar and also Singapore.

  1. From 2013 to 2015 Kadmi worked in Qatar for Hassan Mohd who had two children aged 12 and 16. Kadmi's duties were care of the 12-year old and cooking, cleaning and laundry.

  2. Soon after going home from Qatar, she was out again, this time to Singapore where she worked for a Malay family of 3: Madam Siti, her husband and his elderly mother who was not in good health. After one year, the family moved to Malaysia, and asked Kadmi to go with them. However, Kadmi declined their offer for she was set on working in Singapore.

Kadmi can cook Indonesian food and Arabic food. As she was able to cook Arabic food (including briyani, and some tongue twister or other) to her employer's satisfaction, for how else could she have stayed on for two years! In Singapore she needed little instruction for she could modify her Indonesian dishes to suit her Malay host family's palate.

Proficiency in English
Kadmi's English is not fluent, but just as she managed to get by in Qatar, where she learnt enough Arabic to communicate with her Arabic host family, so will her rudimentary English improve. As it is, this interviewer was able to communicate her sufficiently to prepare this short profile of hers.

Rojibah, aged 23 is from West Java. Unlike most of the applicants in the same batch, she has 12 years of formal education; that is 4 years more than what MOM requires of a foreign maid.

Her father, now deceased, was a farmer as is her mother now. She is single. (Whoever says Indonesian girls marry while still in their teens is behind the times.)

Work Experience

  1. Young she may be, but Rojibah has already worked for two years in Jakarta. Her employer Mr Gunawan (not his real name) had a 5-year daughter. Rojibah's main responsibility was to look after her and also to do the cooking, cleaning and laundry/ironing.

Rojibah can cook Indonesian food and is taught to cook Chinese food at the training centre.

Proficiency in English
She was able to speak simple English and this interviewer was able to communicate with her in a mixture of English and Malay.

Thoifah is 23 years of age and is from West Java. She is single. What is more interest to the employer is the fact that she is the eldest in the family. In most families, the eldest is literally a "mother's helper" for the eldest girl often stands in for her mother when she is busy on the farm. Helping mother at home is tantamount to preparation for her future role as a domestic helper.

Work Experience

  1. Young though she may be, she has already worked for two years as a domestic helper in Jakarta for Ibu Anawati (not her real name). During her two years with Ana she took care of a child from the age of 2. She also did the cooking, cleaning and laundry/ironing.

Thoifah can cook Indonesian food and counts among her repertoire:
  • chicken soup,
  • chicken curry,
  • fried rice,
  • soto ayam and
  • rendang - a perrenial favourite in Indonesia and among many Singaporeans like this interviewer-profile writer.

Proficiency in English
While not fluent in English, she was certainly better than the majority in the same batch. She has potential.