• Mimi Jalmasco

In the face of challenges and countless miles separating from homeland, migration brought forth transformative positives. Migrant domestic workers found themselves in a role that not only provided for their families but allowed other families to thrive as well. Their contribution, though often unnoticed, was essential in maintaining the balance of many households.

My name is Mimi Jalmasco, a mother of three from the humble country, the Philippines, and a migrant domestic worker in the UK. Leaving my beloved children behind in search of a stable income, I ventured to Dubai in 2013. My heartache was immeasurable, but I believed that the sacrifices I made would ensure my children's future. However, my fate took an unexpected turn when I was brought to the UK by my abusive employers and escaped.

I was placed in the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a system designed to support and protect potential victims of trafficking and I was recognised as one. But this designation came with its own set of vulnerabilities. The UK government, while acknowledging its ordeal, did not allow me to work legally, leaving me to survive on a meagre £5 a day. 

For years, I lived in limbo, unable to provide for my family and uncertain about their well-being back home. In 2019, I was recognised as a survivor of trafficking and my status was marked by a non-renewable and non-extendable domestic worker visa that brought with it a constant sense of insecurity.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide, my anguish deepened. I was unable to return home to visit my children, and the uncertainty of when, or even if, we would be reunited loomed large. 

The year 2021 marked a turning point as my visa expired and was left in a state of limbo yet again. With my options dwindling, I sought human rights and asylum in the UK, the place where I had faced both cruelty and fleeting moments of compassion. Now, as I am waiting for the decision of my application to be considered, the hope of reuniting with my children becomes a distant, uncertain dream. 

Behind the headlines and statistics, there are real people with real hopes, dreams, and sacrifices. It's a call to action to create a world where individuals like me could live and work with dignity and security, while being able to reunite with our families. 

But my story didn't stop there. The hardships I endured led me to become an advocate, a fighter against modern slavery in the UK. I joined forces with The Voice of Domestic Workers to make a difference, working tirelessly to ensure no one else had to endure what I suffered.

My journey serves as a testament to the remarkable positives that migration can bring. It's a journey of empowerment, from securing a better life for my children to enabling others to work, and ultimately, striving to create a world free from the chains of modern slavery.

Migration can be a powerful force for change, and I am living proof of that.

Mimi is an active member of The Voice of Domestic Workers, an education and support group calling for justice and rights for Britain's sixteen thousand migrant domestic workers, also providing support for domestic workers who need to leave abusive employers and in many cases rescue them ourselves. Find them also on Twitter.