My mother is my hero and my biggest supporter. My mom is a Vietnamese refugee. She escaped the Vietnam war when she was just 8 years old. She came to Hawaii and studied hard. My Mom is a very smart woman, Although she made straight A’s, she joined the U.S. army after high school. After 20 years of service she is now retired and has a great job that has supported my siblings and I. My mother has taught me the value of a dollar and to be kind and compassionate in all that I do. 
    I often joke with my husband when he does not clear his plate. My mother told me that when she was on the ship to America, she often had to crawl around the dining area searching for grains of rice. 
I am grateful for my mom and to be in America. =)

     My mother is my hero and my biggest supporter. My mom is a Vietnamese refugee. She escaped the Vietnam war when she was just 8 years old. She came to Hawaii and studied hard. My Mom is a very smart woman, Although she made straight A’s, she joined the U.S. army after high school. After 20 years of service she is now retired and has a great job that has supported my siblings and I. My mother has taught me the value of a dollar and to be kind and compassionate in all that I do. 

    I often joke with my husband when he does not clear his plate. My mother told me that when she was on the ship to America, she often had to crawl around the dining area searching for grains of rice. 

I am grateful for my mom and to be in America. =)

Mi mami, Elena, has many qualities. She is compassionate, wise, beautiful, strong and above all, a luchadora. Like so many others, she came to this country for a ‘better future’ for her and her family. Here she works tirelessly at a job that’s not given the respect it deserves and that has slowly taken a toll on her health. Even when she’s tired, or when her joints hurt, or when she just wants a day off, she still goes to work, and gives it all her effort, because it’s necessary. Her demonstrated strength against the daily injustices she faces and her willingness to demand better working conditions are my inspiración.
Mi mami gave everything up for my brother and me and I will never be able to thank her enough for that. All I can do is care for her, love her unconditionally, strive to give her everything she’s ever given me, and ensure that her story, our stories, are heard loud and clear!

We don’t have to look elsewhere for true heroines and heroes. We’re lucky; we have them in our own homes.

 

 

Mi mami, Elena, has many qualities. She is compassionate, wise, beautiful, strong and above all, a luchadora. Like so many others, she came to this country for a ‘better future’ for her and her family. Here she works tirelessly at a job that’s not given the respect it deserves and that has slowly taken a toll on her health. Even when she’s tired, or when her joints hurt, or when she just wants a day off, she still goes to work, and gives it all her effort, because it’s necessary. Her demonstrated strength against the daily injustices she faces and her willingness to demand better working conditions are my inspiración.

Mi mami gave everything up for my brother and me and I will never be able to thank her enough for that. All I can do is care for her, love her unconditionally, strive to give her everything she’s ever given me, and ensure that her story, our stories, are heard loud and clear!

We don’t have to look elsewhere for true heroines and heroes. We’re lucky; we have them in our own homes.

 

 


Our immigrant mother, Thanh, taught us the meaning of dedication, sacrifice and grace under pressure. Like many other refugees, our ‘Mẹ’ (Mom) came to a foreign land with nothing besides what she had on her and a dream of a better life. And it was this dream and her unwavering dedication that made sure a better life would be in our future. Mẹ sacrificed her career, her freedoms when we moved to the Middle East, and many more opportunities in life to ensure that we could pursue our dreams. 
Cám ơn Mẹ for teaching us the importance of hard work, showing us how to get things done, and instilling in us the belief that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and be given a chance to pursue their dreams too.
 
Love,
 
Nick and Vicky

Our immigrant mother, Thanh, taught us the meaning of dedication, sacrifice and grace under pressure. Like many other refugees, our ‘Mẹ’ (Mom) came to a foreign land with nothing besides what she had on her and a dream of a better life. And it was this dream and her unwavering dedication that made sure a better life would be in our future. Mẹ sacrificed her career, her freedoms when we moved to the Middle East, and many more opportunities in life to ensure that we could pursue our dreams.

Cám ơn Mẹ for teaching us the importance of hard work, showing us how to get things done, and instilling in us the belief that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and be given a chance to pursue their dreams too.

 

Love,

 

Nick and Vicky

My mom shapes who I am and who I want to be.  She is a strong, independent woman, who isn’t afraid of speaking her mind.  She has always faced the future bravely, moving across the world for love, and later across the country for her family.  She has worked hard her whole life. She now has her own business and I am so proud of everything she has accomplished.  My mom is my role model, because not only is she good at her job, but she has also always put her family first.  She would come home from a long day at work to help us with our school projects, throw us birthday parties, pack our lunch.  Even today, now that we are grown, she continues to look out for us and support us.  For as long as I can remember she has been bringing our family together.   We Belong Together.

My mom shapes who I am and who I want to be.  She is a strong, independent woman, who isn’t afraid of speaking her mind.  She has always faced the future bravely, moving across the world for love, and later across the country for her family.  She has worked hard her whole life. She now has her own business and I am so proud of everything she has accomplished.  My mom is my role model, because not only is she good at her job, but she has also always put her family first.  She would come home from a long day at work to help us with our school projects, throw us birthday parties, pack our lunch.  Even today, now that we are grown, she continues to look out for us and support us.  For as long as I can remember she has been bringing our family together.   We Belong Together.

Mi mami believes in a world where no one goes hungry, where no one sleeps in fear, and where everyone’s dreams and aspirations can flourish into reality. Because she fought for her beliefs, she, like many others, was forced to leave her home and country with me in her arms and my brother on the way. Don’t let her small stature (of 4’11”) fool you. She has a big heart, voice, and laugh. I am fortunate to have inherited her rebellious spirit. Thank you mami for teaching me the meaning of equality and justice. ¡Te quiero!

Mi mami believes in a world where no one goes hungry, where no one sleeps in fear, and where everyone’s dreams and aspirations can flourish into reality. Because she fought for her beliefs, she, like many others, was forced to leave her home and country with me in her arms and my brother on the way. Don’t let her small stature (of 4’11”) fool you. She has a big heart, voice, and laugh. I am fortunate to have inherited her rebellious spirit. Thank you mami for teaching me the meaning of equality and justice. ¡Te quiero!

my immigrant mom and the man who followed her 8k+ miles to raise a family in america. 32 years strong!
my mom is 1 of 10 kids. she lived a fairly good life in manila and could have easily stayed put and started a family there. but instead, she packed her bags and was the first of her family to move to america. she knew one person (my grand-aunt) and didn’t know the east side from the west side, queens from brooklyn. it was her first time on her own and her first time in america.
she got a tiny one bedroom apartment in a pretty bad part of brooklyn. she was a pediatrician and was lucky enough to land a job at a local, but not well funded, hospital. yet still, she missed home. she cried every night, called my dad every day, and craved the things back home that she couldn’t have in the us. but she persevered. she got mugged, she got harassed, yet she kept working. kept pushing.
and boy am i glad she did. my dad ended up selling his car, buying a one way ticket to america, and apartment hopping in brooklyn and queens with my mom. during a time when there weren’t a lot of filipino americans living in the us, my mom and dad stayed the course, never gave up, and fought hard to make my life and the lives of my siblings better.
my immigrant mom instilled in me a strength and a drive that i am so grateful for. today, my immigrant mom is a property owner, a small business owner, a mom to four (3 of her own, 1 son-in-law), and ran a half marathon last year at the age of 59.
my immigrant mom can kill a chicken with her bare hands. my immigrant mom had a stethoscope snatched off her neck by some kid after a night shift in brooklyn and cried the whole way home. my immigrant mom can speak 4 languages (english, spanish, ilocano, tagalog). my immigrant mom can and did make the american dream come true for her and her family. thanks mamabear!

my immigrant mom and the man who followed her 8k+ miles to raise a family in america. 32 years strong!

my mom is 1 of 10 kids. she lived a fairly good life in manila and could have easily stayed put and started a family there. but instead, she packed her bags and was the first of her family to move to america. she knew one person (my grand-aunt) and didn’t know the east side from the west side, queens from brooklyn. it was her first time on her own and her first time in america.

she got a tiny one bedroom apartment in a pretty bad part of brooklyn. she was a pediatrician and was lucky enough to land a job at a local, but not well funded, hospital. yet still, she missed home. she cried every night, called my dad every day, and craved the things back home that she couldn’t have in the us. but she persevered. she got mugged, she got harassed, yet she kept working. kept pushing.

and boy am i glad she did. my dad ended up selling his car, buying a one way ticket to america, and apartment hopping in brooklyn and queens with my mom. during a time when there weren’t a lot of filipino americans living in the us, my mom and dad stayed the course, never gave up, and fought hard to make my life and the lives of my siblings better.

my immigrant mom instilled in me a strength and a drive that i am so grateful for. today, my immigrant mom is a property owner, a small business owner, a mom to four (3 of her own, 1 son-in-law), and ran a half marathon last year at the age of 59.

my immigrant mom can kill a chicken with her bare hands. my immigrant mom had a stethoscope snatched off her neck by some kid after a night shift in brooklyn and cried the whole way home. my immigrant mom can speak 4 languages (english, spanish, ilocano, tagalog). my immigrant mom can and did make the american dream come true for her and her family. thanks mamabear!

My Mother’s Work Deserves Dignity
My mother, Nell, has been a domestic worker/caregiver for the elderly and mentally ill for nearly 30 years. 
Near the end of 2012, the National Domestic Workers Alliance released the first-ever national statistical study of domestic workers, “Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work”. They interviewed thousands of workers, originally from 71 countries, throughout the nation’s metropolitan areas. This groundbreaking study sheds light on a labor sector that is otherwise invisible to most people, even though it is essential to maintain our economy. I’ve been inspired to do my part, and make sure my mother’s story is heard. 
After my mother migrated from the Philippines with my father in 1983, she became employed as a domestic worker. She has worked in private households and in caregiving facilities. Since I was 5 years old, my mother has been the breadwinner and backbone of my family (my father retired early to help raise me). With her low wages she’s provided the basic necessities for our family while continually sending money to our relatives in the Philippines. 
67 percent of live-in workers are paid below the state minimum wage, and the median hourly wage of these workers is $6.15. 
My parents couldn’t afford a baby sitter, so when my father couldn’t watch me, I went to work with my mother. For most of my childhood (until I graduated from high school) I saw her work so hard to care for her clients, up to 20 at a time—assuring that they had enough to eat, that they had clean clothes, and that they were on track with their medication regimens. I spent nearly every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s helping my mother serve special meals at her carehomes. Some of her clients didn’t have family or friends to stay with for the holidays, so we made sure that they got their fill of turkey and stuffing with all the fixings—my specialty was the punch. 
Although my mother works very hard, she’s had her share of negative experience with employers. She’s had some fair employers, but also some abusive ones. While these negative experiences have been few and far between, they’ve still taken a toll on her and our family. 
Without the support of any kind of union, she’s mostly had to fight on her own. As a live-in employee, she’s experience long hours without overtime pay, and worked years with without vacation pay or health benefits, but she never once lowered her level of care for her clients. She always makes the happiness of her clients and the satisfaction of their social workers/families her top priority. 
I know what you’re thinking, “Why didn’t she tell anyone?”or “How can these employers get away with abusing their workers like this?”. The answer is a lack protection from current labor laws and fear. Below are a few more findings this new study has revealed about worker maltreatment: 
Domestic workers have little control over their working conditions. Employment is usually arranged without the benefit of a formal contract 
65% do not have health insurance, and only 4% receive employer-provided insurance. 
91% of workers who encountered problems with their working conditions in the prior 12 months did not complain because they were afraid they would lose their job. 
Among workers who are fired from a domestic work job, 23% are fired for complaining about working conditions, and 18% are fired for protesting violations of their contract or agreement

As a U.S. citizen, my mother has had more pull when it’s come to complaining about working conditions. Many of her co-workers are undocumented and stay mostly silent, for fear that they will get fired, or worse—deported. 
Along with these striking statistics, the NDWA’s study also offers recommendations that include enacting and enforcing policies that “rectify the exclusion of domestic workers from employment and labor laws.” In 2010, New York adopted a bill of rights for domestic workers. California is taking more steps with Assembly Bill . We have to keep fighting. 
My mother is currently 62 years old and has filed for Early Retirement. She’s also in the process of resigning from her current job, due to discrepancies with her current employer. 
A couple of weeks ago I asked my mother if she regrets anything about her job, and she said this: “Never, I love my job. I love caring for these people, and I can’t see myself doing any other job.” I am proud of my mother, and I want to see her line of work be respected as much as any doctor, lawyer, or teacher. 
Resources for caregivers/domestic workers:
National Domestic Workers United: http://www.domesticworkers.org/ 
Domestic Workers United: http://www.domesticworkersunited.org/ 
Filipinos for Justices – Worker Support Services: 
http://www.filipinos4justice.org/services/workers/ 
Mujeres Unidas y Activas http://www.mujeresunidas.net/
Mercy Albaran is a home-grown Oaklander, and works with multiple Bay Area non-profits in the struggle for social equity. In her spare time she likes to eat cake, sing, and beatbox. Follower her musings on Twitter @DJMercyMerc

My Mother’s Work Deserves Dignity

My mother, Nell, has been a domestic worker/caregiver for the elderly and mentally ill for nearly 30 years. 

Near the end of 2012, the National Domestic Workers Alliance released the first-ever national statistical study of domestic workers, “Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work”. They interviewed thousands of workers, originally from 71 countries, throughout the nation’s metropolitan areas. This groundbreaking study sheds light on a labor sector that is otherwise invisible to most people, even though it is essential to maintain our economy. I’ve been inspired to do my part, and make sure my mother’s story is heard. 

After my mother migrated from the Philippines with my father in 1983, she became employed as a domestic worker. She has worked in private households and in caregiving facilities. Since I was 5 years old, my mother has been the breadwinner and backbone of my family (my father retired early to help raise me). With her low wages she’s provided the basic necessities for our family while continually sending money to our relatives in the Philippines. 

  • 67 percent of live-in workers are paid below the state minimum wage, and the median hourly wage of these workers is $6.15. 

My parents couldn’t afford a baby sitter, so when my father couldn’t watch me, I went to work with my mother. For most of my childhood (until I graduated from high school) I saw her work so hard to care for her clients, up to 20 at a time—assuring that they had enough to eat, that they had clean clothes, and that they were on track with their medication regimens. I spent nearly every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s helping my mother serve special meals at her carehomes. Some of her clients didn’t have family or friends to stay with for the holidays, so we made sure that they got their fill of turkey and stuffing with all the fixings—my specialty was the punch. 

Although my mother works very hard, she’s had her share of negative experience with employers. She’s had some fair employers, but also some abusive ones. While these negative experiences have been few and far between, they’ve still taken a toll on her and our family. 

Without the support of any kind of union, she’s mostly had to fight on her own. As a live-in employee, she’s experience long hours without overtime pay, and worked years with without vacation pay or health benefits, but she never once lowered her level of care for her clients. She always makes the happiness of her clients and the satisfaction of their social workers/families her top priority. 

I know what you’re thinking, “Why didn’t she tell anyone?”or “How can these employers get away with abusing their workers like this?”. The answer is a lack protection from current labor laws and fear. Below are a few more findings this new study has revealed about worker maltreatment: 

  • Domestic workers have little control over their working conditions. Employment is usually arranged without the benefit of a formal contract 
  • 65% do not have health insurance, and only 4% receive employer-provided insurance. 
  • 91% of workers who encountered problems with their working conditions in the prior 12 months did not complain because they were afraid they would lose their job. 
  • Among workers who are fired from a domestic work job, 23% are fired for complaining about working conditions, and 18% are fired for protesting violations of their contract or agreement

As a U.S. citizen, my mother has had more pull when it’s come to complaining about working conditions. Many of her co-workers are undocumented and stay mostly silent, for fear that they will get fired, or worse—deported. 

Along with these striking statistics, the NDWA’s study also offers recommendations that include enacting and enforcing policies that “rectify the exclusion of domestic workers from employment and labor laws.” In 2010, New York adopted a bill of rights for domestic workers. California is taking more steps with Assembly Bill . We have to keep fighting. 

My mother is currently 62 years old and has filed for Early Retirement. She’s also in the process of resigning from her current job, due to discrepancies with her current employer. 

A couple of weeks ago I asked my mother if she regrets anything about her job, and she said this: “Never, I love my job. I love caring for these people, and I can’t see myself doing any other job.” I am proud of my mother, and I want to see her line of work be respected as much as any doctor, lawyer, or teacher. 

Resources for caregivers/domestic workers:

National Domestic Workers United: http://www.domesticworkers.org/ 

Domestic Workers United: http://www.domesticworkersunited.org/ 

Filipinos for Justices – Worker Support Services: 

http://www.filipinos4justice.org/services/workers/ 

Mujeres Unidas y Activas http://www.mujeresunidas.net/

Mercy Albaran is a home-grown Oaklander, and works with multiple Bay Area non-profits in the struggle for social equity. In her spare time she likes to eat cake, sing, and beatbox. Follower her musings on Twitter @DJMercyMerc

My mother raised me to believe that anything was possible: That if I worked hard enough I could get the life I wanted. 
Through her own example she also taught me courage and acceptance and showed me how to follow the life that I’ve made for myself wherever it takes me, regardless of my expectations or attachments. To strive and to settle, to love where I am and where I’m from, to be proud of what I have and how far I’ve come.
Julia, CA

My mother raised me to believe that anything was possible: That if I worked hard enough I could get the life I wanted.

Through her own example she also taught me courage and acceptance and showed me how to follow the life that I’ve made for myself wherever it takes me, regardless of my expectations or attachments. To strive and to settle, to love where I am and where I’m from, to be proud of what I have and how far I’ve come.

Julia, CA

My mom moved from beautiful Colombia to freezing Wisconsin in the seventies even though she didn’t know a soul here.  Fast forward to present: she has a strong marriage and two grown daughters and a wonderful career as one of the top mental health professionals (and certainly one of the only bilingual female ones) in our area.  She does a service to her community just by being here.  
I am so proud of her, and I still feel amazement when I think of how hardcore it was for her to move to a totally different country and pursue her dreams.  She is courageous, intelligent, loving, resilient, and always full of surprises.  She will never ever be just some old lady to me, because she is more of a badass than most people I will ever meet.

My mom moved from beautiful Colombia to freezing Wisconsin in the seventies even though she didn’t know a soul here.  Fast forward to present: she has a strong marriage and two grown daughters and a wonderful career as one of the top mental health professionals (and certainly one of the only bilingual female ones) in our area.  She does a service to her community just by being here.  

I am so proud of her, and I still feel amazement when I think of how hardcore it was for her to move to a totally different country and pursue her dreams.  She is courageous, intelligent, loving, resilient, and always full of surprises.  She will never ever be just some old lady to me, because she is more of a badass than most people I will ever meet.

Mi Mami Carmen. She is the most wonderful parent I could have ever asked for. She is the strongest, most selfless and loving person I know. She is also an inspiring gardener, a soccer star and the best cook!
Since we migrated to the US she has worked as a dishwasher, childcare provider, in home caretaker, domestic worker and cook.
Like most immigrant workers, she has never been paid a living wage, overtime or sick days. She has never received a paid vacation and does not have access to health care. She cannot go back home and like millions has had to bury loved ones from afar. 
My love for her and growing up seeing the discrimination and racism my family had to endure from abusive employers to slumlords is a constant reminder hat things must change. 
She has sacrificed so much for us, her love and perseverance are a shining light of hope in the struggle for justice, and I will continue to work so that her story, our stories will not be just one more. Gracias Mami.

Mi Mami Carmen. She is the most wonderful parent I could have ever asked for. She is the strongest, most selfless and loving person I know. She is also an inspiring gardener, a soccer star and the best cook!

Since we migrated to the US she has worked as a dishwasher, childcare provider, in home caretaker, domestic worker and cook.

Like most immigrant workers, she has never been paid a living wage, overtime or sick days. She has never received a paid vacation and does not have access to health care. She cannot go back home and like millions has had to bury loved ones from afar. 

My love for her and growing up seeing the discrimination and racism my family had to endure from abusive employers to slumlords is a constant reminder hat things must change. 

She has sacrificed so much for us, her love and perseverance are a shining light of hope in the struggle for justice, and I will continue to work so that her story, our stories will not be just one more. Gracias Mami.