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Page 1.
Panel 1. Ustad leads the prayer, followed by Suryati’s relatives and neighbours.

Panel 2. Ustad, the relatives, and the neighbours converse after praying.
Ustad: “Alhamdulillah, Sur has managed to land a job in Singapore.” Aunt: “Don’t forget to call us once you’ve arrived there!”

Panel 3. Hopes and dreams for Suryati. Uncle: “We’ll soon be able to build a house.” Mother: “I hope everything works out for you, dear.” Uncle: “Find a husband there!” Suryati: “Amen. I’m counting on your blessings and prayers, mum.” Ustad: “Bring us back souvenirs!”

Panel 4. Uncle: “One more thing: don’t forget to send money to your family every month, okay?”

Panel 5. Red and white congee is often served in ceremonial feasts. Mother: “Come, come, let’s eat the red congee!”
Page 2.
Panel 1. Suryati arrives at the training centre for domestic workers, accompanied by an agent.

Panel 2. Suryati and the agent knock on the door together.

Panel 3. Suryati is welcomed by other candidates. Agent: “In the meantime, you should stay here with the others.”

Panel 4. Suryati converses with her fellow domestic worker candidate who has stayed there longer. Fellow Candidate: “Hey, did you just arrive?” Suryati: Yes! How long have you been here?” Fellow Candidate: “A month.”

Panel 5. Suryati is thinking to herself. “She’s been here for a month?” Fellow Candidate: “Yeah, thanks to COVID… our trip keeps getting delayed.”

Panel 6. Suryati’s emotional outburst while thinking about the delay.
Page 3.
Panel 1. Suryati and her fellow candidates are chit-chatting before bed. Suryati: “Then what are we supposed to do here?”

Panel 2. A portrayal of the living condition at the training centre. The tiny bedroom is filled with multiple women. Fellow Candidate #2: “Practice our cleaning skills, maybe?” Fellow Candidate #3: “Come on, we’re the experts!”

Panel 3. Fellow Candidate #1: “Little, little.” Suryati: “Do you think they’ll provide an English course for us?”

Panel 4. Fellow Candidate #1: “Don’t think about it. Let’s just go to sleep!”

Panel 5. Fellow Candidate #2: “Yawn…I’m so sleepy.” Suryati: “This is anything but training. I’m not even gaining any skills.” Fellow Candidate #3: “Let’s all go to sleep. We have to practise sweeping tomorrow!”
Page 4. 
Panel 1. An Indonesian agent welcomes a local official on his visit. Official: “Is the training going as planned?” Agent: “It is, sir. “

Panel 2. The official discusses the training and the number of workers dispatched to the agent. Official: “We can deduct from the workers’ salaries for the training fees. How many of them are departing this month?” Agent: “20 of them, sir. We’re going to send 25 more next month.”

Panel 3. The official makes sure that he gets his cut from the arrangement. Official: “Perfect! Don’t forget my cut, eh?” Agent: “Of course, sir. Since you’re the official protecting us, that’s only fair.”

Panel 4. A conversation between the Indonesian agent and the Singaporean agent. Singaporean Agent: “We’re sending 20 this month, huh? You get the usual amount, alright? Everything’s good to go here in Singapore.” Indonesian Agent: “Well-noted, boss!” Indonesian Agent is thinking: “Wow, 400 million rupiah isn’t bad at all.”
Page 5.
Panel 1. The agent announces to the domestic worker candidates that they can finally leave for Singapore. Agent: “Good news! You can finally leave for Singapore!” 

Panel 2. A portrayal of the candidates’ enthusiastic responses. Fellow Candidate #1: “Yeay! How about COVID?” Fellow Candidate #2: “I’ve waited for two months.” Agent: “Don’t think about it too much. What matters is you can all finally go!”

Panel 3. Further depiction that the training is actually unnecessary. “Twenty people can go, including you, Sur!” Fellow Candidate #2: “You’re so lucky! You’ve only been here for a week and you can already go!”

Panel 4. Agent: “We leave the day after tomorrow. Now, please sign these documents. Remember, for the first 8 months, your salaries will be deducted to pay for the training fees. After that, you’ll be paid in full.”

Panel 5. Suryati: “Wow, we get S$550 per month?” Agent: “We’ll cut S$500 from your monthly salary for 8 months. Oh, we’ve also prepared your passports and visas.” Fellow Candidate #2: “It’s equivalent to around 6 million rupiah, right?”

Panel 6. The employment contract.
Page 6.
Panel 1. Moving to Singapore.

Panel 2. A pair of potential employers are talking to a Singaporean agent. Singaporean Agent: “In all, that’s S$13,000, including insurance and COVID-related fees.”

Panel 3. A detailed explanation of the cost to hire a domestic worker from Indonesia by the Singaporean agent. Singaporean Agent: “The total cost includes an agent’s fee of S$3,000, a security deposit of S$5,000 and a housing fee of S$3,000. But you only need to pay S$6,000 up front. The rest in instalments.” Male Employer: “How about the salary?” Singaporean Agent: “S$500 per month initially. That’s the minimum wage. After that it depends on the agreement you make with your maid. For the first eight months, transfer S$500 per month directly to us. After that you can pay the full amount directly to her.”

Panel 4. A discussion between the pair of employers. Male Employer: “What do you think, dear?”

Panel 5. Female Employer: “Let’s take it. We need the help, anyway.”
Page 7.
Panel 1. Suryati arrives at her new employers’ house.

Panel 2. Suryati and her employers meet for the first time. Female Employer: “You’re the new maid, aren’t you?” Suryati: “Yes, ma’am.”

Panel 3. The employers explain different parts of the house to Suryati. Male Employer: “So, this is the living room… and over there is the kitchen.” Suryati: “Eh, I see, sir.” Female Employer: “We’ll pay you S$550 a month for now. However, you will only receive S$50 for the first eight month, ok?” Suryati: “Um, okay, ma’am.”

Panel 4. Suryati is busy cooking.

Panel 5. Suryati takes a short break and sighs.

Panel 6. Suryati is cleaning the house.

Panel 7. Suryati is ironing some clothes.
Page 8.
Panel 1. While working, Suryati calls her friends to meet on the weekend. Suryati: “Sis, let’s hang out at the usual spot tomorrow!”

Panel 2. Suryati meets her fellow domestic workers in public. Suryati: “What am I going to do? I only receive S$50 per month!” Friend #1: “Well, don’t go shopping.” Friend #2: “Try not to spend more than S$10 today.”

Panel 3. Suryati’s conversation with her mother on the phone. Mother: “Can you send us money?” Suryati: “Not yet, mum.” Mother: You have a job now! Why can’t you send us money? Piye tho? How could this be?”

Panel 4. Suryati’s mother’s condition in the following month. Family Member: “Hello, Sur? Your mother is very sick.”

Panel 5. Suryati: “I only have S$50 left.”
Page 9.
Panel 1. Suryati and her employers are watching an interview about migrant workers whose salaries are unfairly cut by their agents. News Anchor: “There are complaints circulating about Indonesian domestic workers’ salaries being cut.” Singaporean Official: “Everything has its cost. It’s a business matter between the Indonesian and Singaporean labour agencies. We can’t interfere.” News Anchor: “But—” Singaporean Official: “The deduction is based on the contract made in Indonesia between Indonesian workers and Indonesian agents.”

Panel 2. Singaporean Official: “Singapore can’t interfere in this situation. The agency here only helps collect and send the money to the Indonesian agency. In this sense, no rights are violated by the Singaporean agency and employers because the workers’ salaries are paid in full. It’s just that the workers must pay their debt to the Indonesian agency as written in their contracts.” Suryati thinks to herself: “Wow. My greedy agent tricked me. I can only hope that my employers will be kind to me.” Employers think to themselves: “Wow, we’re just following the rules. As long as she’s not starving.”

Panel 3. Suryati and her employers are watching an interview of an Indonesian activist on the same show. Journalist: “Indonesian domestic workers receive very low salaries, even after working for eight months. What are your thoughts on this, ma’am?” Indonesian Activist: “The problem is rooted in the greedy Indonesian agencies that often exploit our workers. They must be prosecuted. According to Indonesian law, workers should pay only 12.6 million rupiah in fees. Why is more than 40 million rupiah being cut from their wages?”

Okky Madasari

Okky Madasari is a novelist and columnist for several media outlets in Indonesia. She has published 11 books and is now doing her PhD at the National University of Singapore, with a thesis on censorship and silencing in Indonesia.

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Muhammad Harir

Hailing from Pati, a small town in northern Central Java, Harir obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in 2020. However his first love is drawing, which he has been doing since 2013. Get in touch at muhammadharir98@gmail.com. You can find his work on Twitter and Instagram @haririyat.