Domestic helpers in Singapore: Best courses and classes for your maid from cooking to small business skills

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Life here in Singapore with a young family sometimes requires some pretty nifty skill sets when it comes to the balancing act of keeping on top of our kids’ demands and busy schedules. The juggle is real, people, and as we can’t be in a zillion places at the same time, having a trusty assistant to help steer us through the scheduling minefield is totally essential. Step forward our amazing helpers! We think it’s fair to say that employing a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW), fondly known to most as Aunty, is absolutely one of the biggest upsides to living here in Singapore! Whether you are a stay-at-home mum, a working mother, or something in between, having extra eyes at the water playground, extra hands at the soft play centre, and extra legs when you are trying to race between kids at different schools, is a godsend. But how can we help in some small way to make our own helpers’ lives easier? We’ve found some fabulous courses designed for helpers that we think she might love: classes and lessons that will help her embrace and enhance her personal and professional skill sets for not only a happy life with your family, but to help her build a future for life beyond that as an FDW. Whether she has a dream of opening her own business, needs some brushing up with her English, fancies making her own clothes, or has aspirations for being the next Masterchef, we’ve found something for all of our wonderful right-hand women…

MULTI-SKILL SCHOOLS: COOKING, SEWING, COMPUTER LITERACY & SMALL BUSINESS

Aidha
Aidha believes in “sustainable futures through financial education”, and this micro-business school for FDWs covers important life skills for when your helper is ready to move back home. Your helper can pick up tips on developing good saving habits, preparing for future small businesses, and learn how to make sound investments. Classes are held on Sundays over a period of nine months and topics covered include entrepreneurship, computer literacy, business management and finance.
Aidha, United World College South East Asia, Dover Campus, 1207 Dover Road, Singapore 139654; www.aidha.org

Foreign Domestic Workers Association for Skills Training (FAST)
With locations all over Singapore, and a heap of great classes to choose from, this charity funded association has a new skillset for all. FDWs can choose from subsidised courses on topics including cooking, infant care, foot reflexology, English language, stress management, baking, computer literacy and beauty-preneurship. Your helper is sure to pick up not only some fab new accomplishments, but also some FAST new friends too!
FAST, various locations; www.fast.org.sg

Philippine Bayanihan Society Singapore (PBSS)
Filipino helpers who fancy bagging some new skills can join a course ranging in picks from martial arts to dressmaking at the PBSS. Programmes run every second Sunday and classes include cool choices such as cosmetology and aromatherapy!
PBSS, 43 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 118503; www.bayanihancentre.com

Mujahidah Learning Centre
Set up in 2005, and now running seven different courses for around 500 Indonesian, Indian and Sri Lankan helpers, the Mujahidah Learning Centre offers classes such as international cookery courses, sewing skills, English lessons and computer literacy programmes.
Mujahidah Learning Centre, Mujahidah Mosque, 590 Stirling Road, Singapore 148952, p. 6473 7400;

Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI)
The ACMI (thank goodness this one has an acronym) has courses open to any nationality and prices start from just $90 for 10 lessons. FDWs can try out fun courses including baking, computers, hairdressing, caregiving, everyday practical English, small business enterprise classes and even guitar lessons. This centre is popular, so advice is to book up as early as possible.
ACMI, Agape Village, 7a Toa Payoh Lorong 8, Singapore 319264; www.acmi.org.sg

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME)
The HOME Academy was set up in order to provide training and support to domestic workers of all nationalities. Weekly Sunday classes offer programmes in English, Mandarin, computer skills, cooking, dressmaking and financial education. Your helper will love the HOMEly feeling of the place and is sure to pick up not only new skills, but new friends too.
HOME, 304 Orchard Road, #06-22 Lucky Plaza, Singapore 238863; www.home.org.sg

COOKING CLASSES

Expat Kitchen
Whether your helper is a total novice in the kitchen, or already proving herself to be a bit of a Nigella, Expat Kitchen has cooking and baking courses suitable for all levels of ability. Courses range from one-off classes with a special focus (current classes include ‘packed lunch ideas’, ‘cooking with quinoa’ and ‘Saigon street food’) to full-on intermediate courses where your helper can really get to grips with cooking up a healthy, veritable feast. Watch out, Jamie Oliver et al!
Expat Kitchen, 9 Norris Road, Little India 208252; www.expat-kitchen.com

Lotta’s Western Cooking Class
Lotta’s hands-on workshops are ideal if your helper needs to cook up Western faves in your kitchen regularly. Qualified international chef Lotta, will teach a maximum of six girls in each session to create nutritious, delicious fare and students will also get tips on kitchen essentials including food hygiene, grocery shopping plans and how to store food safely. By the end of the course your helper will be whipping up perfect pancakes and lovely lasagnes like a pro.
Lotta’s Western Cooking Class, 121 Lor K Telok Kurau 425762, www.facebook.com/cookwesternfood

Small Cooks Big Meals
If your helper could do with a bit of guidance on planning weekly menus, as well as brushing up on how to pull the perfect family menu out of the bag, then Small Cooks Big Meals could be the answer. Courses are designed for all levels of expertise and even include a basic cake decorating class for those helpers who fancy creating a buttercream birthday cake delight for your next bash.
Small Cooks Big Meals, #10-71, 28D Dover Crescent 134028; www.scbm.com.sg

Deliciously Healthy Helpers’ Workshop
Health and Vitality’s nutrition guru Liza Rowan, and foodie super-mum and Carrotsticks and Cravings author, Terri-Anne Leske, have joined forces to bring their extensive knowledge of healthy ingredients and delicious recipes to helpers who are keen to learn more about cooking, meal planning and wellbeing. Helpers will be inspired to not only take better care of themselves, but also how to read nutrition labels to get to grips with levels of sugar, fats and salt in foods, find out which cooking oils they should be using, and also how to serve up a healthy dish with the right portion sizes in mind. Participants can expect to not only pick up valuable lessons to use in the kitchen, but also to have a heap of fun along the way.
Deliciously Healthy Helpers’ Workshop, Rochelie Drive, Tanglin; www.healthandvitality.com.sg

Road to India
If homemade Indian food gets your mouth watering, then why not send your helper along to a one-off cooking class with local mummy, Pooja Kamath Manohar? Pooja runs classes for helpers out of her kitchen and will guide your FDW through a host of delish Indian dishes so that they can bring a taste of India to your own dining table. Materials and recipes are provided, and the girls get to eat their tasty efforts together once it’s ready to devour. HoneyKids’ readers signing up their helpers will receive a $10 discount on the price (usual price $70), so be sure to mention us when making your booking!
Road to India, Anchorvale Drive, Senkang; www.facebook.com/groups/843017725757398/

FIRST AID

Mother & Child
For those of us who leave our tots in the care of our helpers, it certainly helps to know that they are in capable hands. The Mother & Child First Aid for Helpers class covers infant and child care essentials such as CPR, accident prevention, first aid and emergency procedures. Not only will your helper be learning worthwhile skills, this course will also give peace of mind for parents too: read HoneyKids Editor Selina’s account of resuscitating her own baby and you’ll understand why.
Mother & Child, 163 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247933; www.motherandchild.com.sg

First Aid Tuition
These private courses are run by founder Anne Greetham, a fully qualified American Red Cross Instructor and a Registered General Nurse from St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. The Concise First Aid and CPR course, designed for parents, helpers and babysitters teaches infant, child and adult CPR with the use of a manikin. You’ll get a manual to keep, and the course can take place in your home. If you want to qualify for American Red Cross certification, sign up for the Full CPR and First Aid course.
www.firstaidtuition.com/courses

Parentlink
Parentlink offers an invaluable four-hour first aid course for helpers which covers emergency situations involving poisoning, fractures, bleeding, burns and more, as well as teaching CPR and putting in place an emergency plan.
Parentlink, 32 Robin Close, Singapore 258311; www.parentlink.com.sg

Lead image courtesy of: Aidha