Par Cécile Brosolo | Publié le 11/06/2017 à 13:08 | Mis à jour le 01/06/2018 à 15:56

Sri Yanah, Damayanthi, and Maria-Cecilia have taken finance, management, and entrepreneurship courses at the Singapore-registered charity AIDHA. Originally from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines respectively, they came to Singapore to work as foreign domestic workers and make a living. Thanks to AIDHA, they now have the prospect of a better future. Here are their stories.


- Version française : Ici -

Maria-Cecilia (Right)

Sri Yanah, Damayanthi, and Maria-Cecilia are fighters. Like many of their compatriots, they have left their home countries and their families for many years to make a living in Singapore, working as domestic helpers. They have made this personal and familial sacrifice so that their families at home could pay their daily expenses, educate their children, or provide the medical expenses of a sick family member. Whether they found out about Aidha when surfing the net or heard about it through word-of-mouth, its finance, management, and entrepreneurship courses have transformed their lives. ?I would never have thought to learn how to save money or to prepare a business plan. All I thought about was finding a job and sending money to my family, admitted Sri Yanah, but I was wrong. I am not going to stay here all my life. Thanks to Aidha, I can change my life and prepare for the future?. 

Aidha offers a large range of courses, from finance (which teaches students how to manage their money, save, and invest) to entrepreneurship, business management, leadership, and IT (refer to our article here). ?I wasn't expecting to learn so many things!?, says Maria, and Damayanthi adds: ?All the things I hadn't had the opportunity to learn before, I learned them with Aidha?.

Damayanthi AIDHA
Damayanthi (right)

But how difficult is it to go back to school when you've left it so long ago? How do you motivate yourself to study on Sundays, the only weekly day-off that you have? Damayanthi replies instantly, ?When I realized what I could learn at Aidha, I just wanted to enrol immediately! I was nervous at first, and I found it tiring to learn all these new concepts and tools. But gradually, with the support of my classmates and mentors, I've started to see things differently. I became more confident and I started to have a plan to set up my restaurant?.

Maria-Cecilia's and Sri Yanah's employers encouraged and financially supported them to enrol at Aidha. ?Maam asked me one day: ?would you like to use your day off to learn something new and acquire new skills to prepare your future?? and this is how I heard about Aidha. At the beginning, I felt very insecure, I was shy and thought that I would not be able to keep up with the courses. I left school when I was very young, after junior high', and I had never studied economics. But my employer was very supportive, she helped me a lot and I thank her for that?, explains Sri Yanah.

All three of them have different backgrounds and different sources of motivation. They nevertheless have one thing in common: a strong sense of personal accomplishment and pride to have succeeded. Thanks to what they've achieved at Aidha, they have not only acquired the skills necessary to turn their business ideas into reality, but they have also found a community to be part of and made new friends. And, most importantly, they've gained confidence in themselves and trust in their future.

AIDHA Sri Yanah
 Sri Yanah

Sri Yanah will leave Singapore in 8 months. ?I now know that I am ready to go home and start a new life working for myself. I used to lack of confidence and I was afraid of speaking in public. Now I feel stronger. I have learned to be a leader within my family, I know how to manage my money and start a business. My plan is to set up a poultry farm and to sell my products directly from my farm or on the nearby markets. I have found a supplier and started building the chicken coop. I will manage the business with my sister and brother-in-law.?

Damayanthi's homecoming is planned for the end of the year. ?I had planned to open a restaurant, but my father thought about opening a coffee shop-cum-bookstore. I like this idea! I am proud to have passed all the courses. I feel more intelligent and ready. I am so happy that I have saved enough money to go home and start my business.?

Maria-Cecilia is planning to stay in Singapore for another 3 to 4 years to ?save a bit more and finish paying my house?. But she has already started to make other investments in real estate with her 20-year old daughter.

Sri Yanah wishes that all foreign domestic workers in Singapore could benefit from this enriching experience. ?I want to tell them to come to Aidha, to use their time to learn, because it has changed my life?.

Interview conducted by Cécile Brosolo,, on Monday 12 June 2017 

Read our interview with with Marie-Laure Caille, Business and Finance Consultant, Adjunct Faculty Member at ESSEC Business School and volunteer at Aidha here.


Cecile Brosolo

Cécile Brosolo

Ingénieur de formation et passionnée par la photo, Cécile s'intéresse en particulier à la science et à la technique, à la photographie et à l'environnement.
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