Hard work, hard life


Elin W., Reporter

The life of Ms. Cherry Olandria is something that, like many other maids, is not talked about a lot. We tend to keep a “professional” distance from our maids, yet with this distance comes lack of humanity and empathy. Because like all other people, our maids have their own story.

This is the story of my maid, Cherry Olandria, who through her struggle and hard work wants to make the life of her children less burdensome than her own life and wants to give her children the opportunities she never was given.

Cherry Olandria, was born in 1977 in General Santos City in the Philippines. In her younger years she had to walk 2 km every day to school until grade 3. Every day after school, she would go down to the beach with her brother and put cigarette filters in holes in the water in order to attract the octopuses. When they came out, she would catch them, wash and cook them and many other sea creatures with vinegar in order to get food.

In Grade 4, she moved to the farm with her grandfather to the mountains where she “learned to work,” she says. “I did not know life,” she says, before she had to go picking cotton and corn, feed the animals, and milk the cows. She had to wake up every morning at 5 o’clock to cook, clean and work in the field.

Now reflecting on her past experience she says that she liked it, and she was happy, but the workload was too much for her young age. She even failed one subject because she was always late to school due to her work.

After working very hard and finishing high school Ms. Olandria did not have enough money for college and her family needed money, so she started working in a tuna factory at age 16 or 17. After a couple months, she had to start working as a saleswoman.

She then married at 19, and she had two children, whom she now speaks to every day. Ms Olandria does not regret having to work hard, but she says she knows how to handle life as a poor person or as a rich one, in the mountains or in the city. She prefers the “mountain life,” she said, because she learned more — how to harvest corn and cotton and how to take care of animals. She learned responsibility since she had to care for her family.

Ms. Olandria got her job in Qatar from her older sister who first found a job here from an agency. She says that she wants her children to have good opportunities in life; that it is the reason to work so hard.

Asked her life motto, she said, “Just keep smiling.” Those are the people who have strength; they can smile and be happy through their problems. Ms. Olandria says smiling prevents her from becoming too stressed and from getting stress-related health problems. For the sake of her family, she wants to avoid these at all costs. Like many other maids, Ms. Olandria will work as hard as she can to get money so that she can support her family and kids in her home country so that they can live less burdensome lives.

So talk to your maid. Find out about interesting ways for catching octopuses or the hard work she did as a child. They do have their own interesting stories, ideas and tricks about life. Who better to ask than a person who has worked so hard to stay alive?