Sim Chi Yin November 15, 2010Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Indonesia.
Java, Indonesia, December 2008
Sim Chi Yin (b.1978, Singapore) is a freelance photographer based in Beijing, China. This year, she was one of two photographers worldwide to receive a Magnum Foundation scholarship for a summer programme in documentary photography and human rights at New York University. She was a finalist for the Ian Parry Award in 1999. She photographed and reported on Indonesian women migrant workers’ trials and triumphs between 2005 and 2009. That work is being published as a book by the United Nations’ International Labour Organization. As a foreign correspondent for The Straits Times, Singapore’s largest English-language daily, Chi Yin won several awards for her pictures and text stories. She recently left the paper to get back to photography.
About the Photograph:
“On a wing and a prayer: Faith and luck are just about all Siti Cholifah, 27, has as she prepares to leave her two-year-old little girl and home yet again to work overseas as a domestic maid. It would be her third stint away in as many years. Year after year, tens of thousands of Indonesian women go the same way, keeping their families afloat by taking care of other people’s households in the richer countries of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Siti, who had already been a domestic in Singapore and Saudi Arabia, planned to go to Singapore or Hong Kong to work once her daughter was a little older. It’s for my child’s future. And our house is not even completed, she said, sitting on a worn sofa in her home of bare cement floors, walls and roof beams.”
“Migrant workers the world over struggle with this mix of hard-headed calculation and complex emotions. In Indonesia – as is elsewhere – poverty is the key push behind its army of 6 million migrant workers spread out across the Middle East and Asia. Almost 70 per cent of them are women in low-skilled jobs, yet they sent home 120 trillion rupiah (US$ 11.64 billion) in 2008, a key source of foreign exchange for Indonesia next to oil and gas revenue.”