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(Chicago, IL) -- On January 28, members of AFIRE attended a walking tour at Harold Washington Library Center, for the “Working in America” multimedia exhibit by Project&; on display until March 31. AFIRE members were invited through the National Domestic Workers Alliance and received a personal tour of the gallery by creator, Jane M. Saks. Featured at the exhibit were twenty-four powerful and very real stories of people living and working across the United States. No two stories were the same; some were familiar to the AFIRE domestic worker members who attended, while others brought new perspective and understanding into light. Yet each story raised the question, “Who are they?”
As Jane M. Saks facilitated discussions about each story, AFIRE members were able to identify similar experiences, and emotions about the labor in which they perform as domestic workers in the U.S.
“Every day I have to remind myself to be kind, be patient, even when I am having a hard time...Even when I am alone here, taking care of another person as if they were my own family,” says AFIRE member and domestic worker, Maggie Espinilla.
When AFIRE members came to the story of Bianca Sanchez, also a domestic worker and single mother raising her children in the United States, they connected immediately with some of the challenges her work entailed. And by the end of the tour, AFIRE members expressed interest in sharing their own story, as a way in which they could combat stigmas and stereotypes about who they are as Filipino domestic workers here in the United States.
Member and domestic worker Jimmy Collado recalled that as he worked abroad, he would often record his voice, talking about his daily tasks so that he could send his messages home to the Philippines for his young son to hear and cherish. “It’s really important to me, to be able to talk about what I do, and for someone to listen to what I have to say.”
As AFIRE continues to work throughout the tensions and uncertainties of this political climate, efforts towards uplifting the voices of our community are still being made. To advocate for each other, fight together, and activate the power of our voices, AFIRE sets plans for its own oral history collection. Because "Ang Ating Lakas ay nasa Ating Kuwento" (Our Power is in Our Stories). Stay tuned for more information about this project.
Naomi L. Salcedo