Dubai: Sally, an outspoken Filipina maid, gives voice to the thousands of maids employed in the UAE, through her blog, Dubai Sally.
Working for a couple with two school-going children, Sally describes the daily details of looking after children, cleaning house, stealing time to catch up on gossip with neighbouring maids, the joys of computer-educating herself, her pangs of homesickness, her best friend Lilibeth and her devious plans to make money, all with a generous dose of humour, some of it dark, and some outright tears-in-your-eyes moments.
Her Ma'am's maid
The blog begins with a plea to her readers. "My name is Sally. I [have been] living [the] past few years as housemaid in Dubai. I [am] using my ma'am's computer when she [is] not at home. My friend showed me how to use [the] blog … My ma'am [does] not know I write about my work and my life. Please do not tell her." At her request, Sally's identity remains anonymous.
Her anecdotes, however, are online for the world to empathise with; the entries as whimsical as its author. In January, Sally wrote about stealing her ma'am's nail polish and then going through bouts of guilt. Earlier she discussed feeling of being torn between wanting to be famous and her ma'am finding out she's revealed all on the web.
The idea behind the blog came from a conversation between Sally and her maam. "One day my maam [told] me, ‘Sally, your life [is] so interesting. You should write a book. I told Lillibeth and she show[ed] me [how to create] a blog. She said, ‘who knows? One day it [will] become a book'," says Sally.
Scrolling through the regular entries, the central characters in Sally's life stand out. Top of the list is Sally's ma'am, who remains nameless, followed by five-year-old Rayan and 12-year-old Sara, the two children Sally's life revolves around. Select entries see the introduction of Sally's best friend Lilibeth, who taught her to use the computer; Maria, a fellow maid trying to sell Sally her old computer; and Richie, the man Sally never married but left her son with in Davao, Philippines.
In order to protect her identity, Sally has changed the names of the people in her blog. "I told maam, this is not my blog. [There are] many girls from Davao City. Sally [is such a] common name. That's why I [had to change the] children's names," she says.
Since her opening entry on September 23, 2010, the blog has received over 2,200 visitors. Earlier entries fill readers in on Sally's background, her teenage pregnancy, her escape to the Middle East, past employers, etc.
Despite being poorly written, the blog is rife with humour and honesty as she takes readers through her personal highs and lows - depending on her ability to use her ma'am's computer in her absence.