Jun 8, 2011
Family of dead Indonesian maid in shock
They refuse to believe she hanged herself after failing maid entry test
THE family members of the Indonesian woman, who took her own life after failing an entry test for maids thrice, have buried her in their home town of Kluwan in Central Java. But they are still in shock over their loss.
Ms Sulastri Wardoyo, a married 26-year-old mother of one, had hanged herself in a shower stall in a maid hostel here on May 28. She died in hospital a few days later.
Her husband, who gave his name only as Mr Sudarsono, told The Straits Times in a telephone interview done in Bahasa Indonesia: 'Up to today, we don't believe she committed suicide. She was a strong woman; she wouldn't do something like that.'
The 27-year-old farmer had been told on May 31 by his wife's Indonesian recruiter that she had been hospitalised, and then told the next day that she had died.
Her body was flown back last Friday and buried on the same day.
It is believed that Ms Sulastri became despondent when she failed to clear the written English test of literacy and numeracy skills.
All newly arrived maids have to pass the test within three days of their arrival, among other requirements, before they are cleared to work in Singapore.
If they fail it, they are sent home.
Mr Sudarsono said there were no problems at home. He described his late wife as a strong-hearted woman who was very close to her family and ever ready to help her friends.
'While being trained at the training centre before she went to Singapore, she called us every Saturday and Sunday to ask how we were doing. She was also supportive of her friends who were also undergoing training with her at the centre,' he said.
Indonesians looking to become maids in Singapore for the first time undergo around three months of training, which covers areas such as spoken English and performing household chores.
Mr Sudarsono said his wife did not face difficulties during her training, but added that they had not been in touch since her arrival here.
Their daughter, 11/2-year-old Afeka Fapeana Kusumu Dewi, is now being cared for by Ms Sulastri's parents.
The child misses her mother, said Mr Sudarsono. 'She cries all the time, asking, 'Where is mum?' She is confused.'
He said his wife had borrowed about 7 million rupiah (S$1,000) from relatives to come to Singapore to work.
When asked if he had to pay the money back, he said: 'We discussed it as a family. They understand.'
He said he is not sure who will have to foot his wife's hospital bills, but added matter-of-factly: 'Right now, I think it's my responsibility.'
Ms Bridget Tan, president of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, said she and a few representatives of the migrant worker welfare group will visit Mr Sudarsono and his family next week with an offer of assistance.
She added that she was also looking to start a public donation drive to raise funds for Ms Sulastri's family.
The Indonesian woman's death has turned the spotlight on the entry test for foreign domestic workers, with many maid agencies and employers calling for it to be either reviewed or scrapped.
The Manpower Ministry said on Monday that it is reviewing the test, following feedback it has received over the last few months.