Roma is 23 years old, although her passport and the employment agency disagrees. Anyway, she's 23 and has a 2-year old little girl named Yunita.
Talking to her, Mae discovers that Roma is here in Malaysia and working in our household so that her little girl can have an education some day. And she's here, thousands of miles away from home, away from family and friends and away from little Yunita, just so she can build a better life for her daughter. It broke our hearts over and over, every time we think of this.
Which is why we treat Roma with the respect she deserves. She eats with us at the same table - none of that "maids eat in the kitchen" nonsense. We buy her toiletries of her choice. And we make sure she has enough to eat, and enough to wear. And we always make sure she has adequate rest. We let her watch the TV, or read a book if she so desires.
Cynics tell us that if we treat our domestic help too well, they'd take advantage of our kindness and climb all over our heads. But that is a risk Mae and I are prepared to take. When she leaves us one day upon expiry of her contract, we'd like her to remember the experience. The experience that she, a stranger in a strange land, came into a Malaysian Chinese Christian home and became one of us.
Because, ultimately, Roma is one of us. A parent doing the best she can, so that her kid can have the best.