Maid did not buy even lipstick as she saved for law degree, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Maid did not buy even lipstick as she saved for law degree

Three years after starting her law course at University of London, distance-learning student Jayanthi Gamage in 2019 packed her bags and left Sri Lanka to work as a maid in Singapore.

The 43-year-old told The Straits Times that she would be earning double what she was making as an audit assistant in Sri Lanka.

With the blessings and support of her parents – a driver dad and a housewife mum – Ms Jayanthi moved to Singapore and toiled.

“I didn’t buy any lipstick or make-up, none of those things. Every dollar was saved for my degree,” she said, recounting how she burnt the midnight oil and dedicated her non-working hours to her academic pursuits.

Ms Jayanthi's first employment lasted two years but she could complete only one out of her seven remaining modules as she was tasked with caring for an infant.

“I was scared that the baby would wake up and cry during the night, so I would be in the living room or his room most of the time. It was very difficult to return to my room and study.”

Thankfully, Ms Jayanthi found a supportive employer in Ms Manjit Kour, a retired public relations professional, for her subsequent contract. Ms Manjit encouraged Ms Jayanthi to study after she was done with her chores and even checked on her progress.

“I believe that when you have education, you can advance in life. A woman, especially, needs to stand on her own two feet and achieve something for herself," said the 72-year-old employer.

Ms Jayanthi, who described Ms Manjit as the “miracle” she was praying for, said: “She’s like a mother caring for her child’s education. All I can say is I’m blessed.”

Last August, when Ms Jayanthi passed her final exams, Ms Manjit was among the first people she shared the good news with.

“It was a very long journey and took a lot of hard work,” said Ms Jayanthi, who is now a supervisor at a cleaning company

“My emotions can’t be put into words but now I know when there’s a will, there’s a way.”

She plans to pursue a master’s degree from the National University of Singapore and hopes to become a lawyer.