Transnational Lives – Exploring Identity and Belonging Among Foreign Domestic Helpers

In the contemporary globalized world, migration has become a defining feature, shaping the lives of millions worldwide. Among the diverse migrant populations, foreign domestic helpers represent a significant group, often navigating complex landscapes of identity and belonging. Through their transnational experiences, foreign domestic helpers offer a unique lens into the dynamics of migration, labor, and cultural adaptation. Foreign domestic helpers, primarily women, leave their home countries in search of better economic opportunities to support their families. Many hail from countries in Asia, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, and find employment in affluent households in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North America. While their work is essential for the functioning of households, it also exposes them to various challenges, including exploitation, discrimination, and isolation. One of the central aspects of foreign domestic helpers’ lives is their negotiation of identity. They often grapple with the tension between their roles as workers and their identities as mothers, wives, daughters, and community members.

Balancing these multiple identities within the context of migration can be emotionally and psychologically taxing. For instance, while they may be respected professionals in their home countries, they are often marginalized and rendered invisible in their host societies. Moreover, foreign domestic helpers experience a sense of displacement and alienation as they navigate unfamiliar cultural and social landscapes. Language barriers, differences in customs, and discriminatory practices further exacerbate their feelings of isolation. Yet, amidst these challenges, many foreign domestic helpers forge supportive networks within their communities, offering solidarity and companionship in the face of adversity. Belonging, therefore, becomes a complex and multifaceted concept for foreign domestic helpers. While they may not fully belong in their host societies due to legal restrictions and social prejudices, they also experience a sense of detachment from their home countries due to prolonged periods of separation from their families. This liminal existence, suspended between two worlds, shapes their perceptions of self and belonging. Despite these challenges, foreign domestic helpers exhibit resilience and agency in navigating their transnational lives.

They develop strategies for coping with adversity, such as maintaining connections with their families through technology, participating in community activities, and engaging in forms of cultural expression from their home countries. These practices serve as sources of empowerment and affirmation of their identities in the face of marginalization. Furthermore, foreign domestic helpers’ experiences highlight broader issues of social justice and human rights. Their stories underscore the need for policies and practices that safeguard their rights, ensure fair labor conditions, and promote inclusivity and diversity in host societies. Recognizing foreign domestic helpers’ contributions to global economies and societies is crucial for fostering greater empathy, understanding, and solidarity across borders. The lives of foreign domestic helpers offer valuable insights into the complexities of migration, identity, and belonging in the contemporary world. Through their experiences, 外傭續約 challenge dominant narratives of migration and labor, highlighting the intersections of gender, class, and nationality in shaping individuals’ lives. By amplifying their voices and addressing the structural inequalities they face, societies can move towards creating more inclusive and equitable communities for all.