Domestic worker who suffered a brain aneurysm returns to Indonesia after $160,000 in donations pour in, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Domestic worker who suffered a brain aneurysm returns to Indonesia after $160,000 in donations pour in

This article is more than 12 months old

A domestic helper who suffered a brain aneurysm has been repatriated back to Indonesia, but only after Ms Saripah Fitriyani’s employers managed to raise over $160,000 through a crowdfunding effort.

The money was used to pay for her repatriation and hospital bills. It took around 12 days to reach the targeted amount, her employer, Ms Nadiah Arinah Mohamed Sallehuddin, told The Straits Times. 

“My family and I would frantically check Saripah’s Gogetfunding page the minute we woke up, hoping to reach the target as her revised medical bills continued rolling in,” the 28-year-old content moderator at Tiktok said. 

On the night of March 5, Ms Saripah, who had joined Ms Nadiah’s Pasir Ris household three months earlier, collapsed at home after complaining of a headache and vomiting. 

Doctors at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) said a computerised tomography scan showed she was bleeding in her brain and she had to undergo emergency surgery that same night.

Ms Saripah woke up four days later and was in a stable condition. 

But even as Ms Saripah was making small improvements, Ms Nadiah was in talks with her maid agency to repatriate Ms Saripah back to her hometown of Karawang, West Java in Indonesia.

Ms Nadiah had insured Ms Saripah for $15,000, and another $10,000 for repatriation, but was still left with thousands of dollars to pay. As of April 5, the interim hospital bill was estimated at around $75,000, with repatriation costs at around $5,000. 

The Ministry of Manpower requires all employers of migrant domestic workers to buy personal accident insurance (PAI) to provide them compensation in the event of death or permanent disability during their stay in Singapore. 

As of July 1, the medical insurance coverage for work permit and S Pass holders will be upped to an annual claim limit of at least $60,000, from the current $15,000, MOM announced on March 31.

But this has come too late for Ms Nadiah and her husband, Mr Syafiq Sohaimi, 32. They welcomed their third child a week before the incident happened. Their other children are aged two and one.

“These past few weeks have been hectic. We have been juggling with taking care of the kids, making calls to various agencies for help and making sure Saripah has been receiving adequate care at the same time,” Mr Syafiq, a marine assistant at PSA Singapore, said. 

“We were not eligible for the revised insurance claim amount, which only starts in July, so that meant we had to find other alternatives quickly.”

Ms Saripah’s maid agency, Beyond Bibik, then suggested that she begin a crowdfunding page, and within the first 24 hours of setting it up, she had received around $25,000 in donations. 

The interim hospitalisation bill of around $75,000 that Ms Nadiah Arinah Mohamed Sallehuddin received. PHOTO: NADIAH ARINAH MOHAMED SALLEHUDDIN


Maid agencies in Singapore are not legally obliged to pay the domestic helpers’ medical bills. Four agencies ST spoke to said they do not have the resources or funds to assist with such matters, and the onus is on the employer to foot the bill.

A spokesman from an agency, Inter Great said: “We have not had any serious cases which have resulted in death. Most of our cases, when a worker is ill, the employer has purchased an insurance plan and coverage. They then liaise with the company on their own, and top up the remaining, if any, themselves.”

Another agency, FirstMaid, however, said it tries its best to pitch in financially, on a case-by-case basis. 

Its spokesman said: “Depending on the fee after an employer has submitted relevant documents, we try to assist financially, to the best of our ability.” 

As there are around 70,000 domestic workers in Singapore, it is challenging to offer financial help to all who are not able to afford the bills, the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore told ST.

First Secretary Wida Irvany said: “The employers that reach out to us, almost come to us as a last resort when they are unable to pay the bills and are seeking assistance. They also come to us for easier liaising for the repatriation process. 

“As we have contacts with casket companies here and authorities in Indonesia, it calls for a rapid response. The domestic worker can be repatriated and recover at home with her family, reducing costs by being in a hospital here.”

As of Wednesday, around $164,000 had been raised for Ms Saripah. 

She was deemed fit to fly by doctors and was repatriated to a hospital in Indonesia last Saturday, along with a doctor from SGH to accompany her for a week.

Ms Nadiah has paid the interim SGH bill of $50,000 so far. The remaining amount after paying all medical and repatriation bills will go to Ms Saripah, her husband and their two children aged two and 10. 

“We are so thankful for all the donations and prayers from everyone. Without them, Saripah would not have been able to return home as soon as she did, ahead of Hari Raya festivities.

“She still has a long rehabilitation process to go.. But we are glad she has her family around to support and take care of her,” Ms Nadiah said.

MAID/DOMESTIC WORKERILLNESSESCrowdfunding and fund raising