This is one of three first-person accounts written by survivors of human trafficking. The others, as well as background about the project, can be found here.
I arrived in New York on September 15, 2005, at age 38, clutching a personal statement I had written for myself. It read, “I am going to America for the future of my kids. I am going to give them a good future. This is my purpose.”
I never thought I would get to live in the United States. But, my opportunity came when my sister moved to another country as a domestic worker and met a diplomat family that was moving to New York City. She told them about me, and they sent a contract to the Philippines for me to sign. I became one of the tens of thousands of Filipina women who go overseas each year as domestic workers. I would meet my employers for the first time in the U.S.
The contract said I would work eight-hour days, five days per week, and make $1,800 per month, caring for a teenager with special needs and doing some cooking and cleaning around the house. I would even get paid holidays and time off. But my sister, who had already worked for the same family, warned me that the contract was only for show—my real income would be $500 per month. However, that was still triple what my husband and I made combined. He was working as a driver for Johnson & Johnson, making 8,000 pesos (about $150) per month, while I made even less selling street snacks. We were feeling the strain of supporting four children, especially the hospital bills for my youngest, who suffers from seizures and often ends up in the hospital.