- Posted January 8, 2014 by
Davao City, Philippines
An Army of Tech Savvy Nannies and Domestic Helpers to Fight Human Trafficking
Background: Myrna's Story
To help you understand how we got where we are, I will share my story. And in doing so, I hope you will understand why, as a woman transformed by technology, I am compelled to act on behalf of the sisters I have left behind and why I am asking you to do the same.
To start with, I grew up in a small, undeveloped fishing village on the island of Bohol in the Philippines. I was born of the Masa, the poorest of the poor. Some of my earliest memories are the tears in my mother's eyes when we would go to bed hungry. By the age of ten, I was an accomplished survivor. Hunger will make a child fearless. Instead of going to school, I would often dive alone in the sea for seaweed and seashells to help feed my family.
Like millions of other women born into poverty, I was forced to seek employment overseas. I spent 20 years of my life working as a domestic helper in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. I cleaned the world’s toilets and I raised other people’s children in a desperate bid to save my own two children from a life of poverty.
In 1996, I became the nanny to an eight year old Chinese boy. It was this eight year old boy, my beloved Jonathan, who taught me how to use a computer. Over a period of ten years, we learned technology together. But it was the use of the internet, where I began to fully understand the technology behind the web meant people could perform services without the need to leave home. For those of you who have never left your children behind for 5, 10 or 15 years, it is simply impossible for me to convey in words how life changing this discovery was for me. I started dreaming.
In 1999, I became involved in community service by founding the Mindanao Hong Kong Worker’s Federation. I was fortunate to serve as its Chairperson for eight years. On Sundays, we would gather in the park and conduct our meetings. Part of my responsibility as a leader was to listen to my members. Listen to their complaints. Listen to their grievances. And listen to their stories.
Some of their stories broke my heart. I cannot count the number of nights I lay in bed crying. Sometimes I cried for myself and other times I cried for my members.
But because of the empowering nature of technology, I started dreaming. I dreamed of coming home and starting a business. I dreamed of becoming a job creator so another mother or father would not follow in my footsteps and suffer the same pain and anguish of being separated from their children. I now know, I was dreaming of Business Process Outsourcing without even knowing what a BPO was.
In 2006, I successfully fulfilled that dream. I returned to the Philippines with an old computer and founded an IT based Business Process Outsourcing Company. We started off offering bug testing services. Today, we specialize in advanced social media and mobile application development. We have built dozens of private labeled social networks for some of the largest non-profits in the world. (see the gallery.)
Success in the Philippine BPO Industry
By any measure, my outsourcing company has become a success. I have dozens of employees working for bosses in Europe, America and Australia, but every night my employees go home to be with their families. As an industry, we have created over 800,000 such jobs. What does 800,000 jobs really mean?
It means 800,000 mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who will stay home, instead of being ripped from their families and shipped overseas.
Creating jobs for our people is a good first step, but it is not enough.
Success is not enough.
For a mother forced to leave her two children behind for 20 years, being part of the BPO Industry is deeply satisfying. But this success is not enough to give real meaning to the sacrifices I, and other mothers like me, were forced to make.
In fact, no amount of success in business will erase the memories of my life as a migrant worker. As a woman, I was not always treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve. And success will never erase the stories I have been told. And, no amount of success will ever allow me to forget, as you read this, there are millions of women, just like me, who are desperately crying out for help, but no one hears them. We intend to change that using the empowering nature of technology.
To all the women who have been empowered with technology, I am asking you not to forget the sisters we left behind. Link here: http://igg.me/p/620262/x/1082425
Every journey starts with the first step. We have taken it.
Please join us and please, please... share.