"I wanted to climb down slowly but my arms were not strong enough. It was very dark and scary, and I was crying. I don't know how long it took (to fall) but I know it was very, very fast." - Indonesian domestic worker Rindu (above) on her fall down the chute. It left her with a leg fracture and eight rings attached to her spine to hold it in place

Maid uses makeshift rope to flee employers’ 7th-storey flat

Indonesian domestic worker falls while trying to flee employers' flat via rubbish chute

At 28cm by 19cm, the rubbish chute opening is just half the size of a copy of The New Paper.

Not that its size deterred Rindu, an Indonesian domestic worker who is 1.57m tall and weighs 53kg.

The 28-year-old somehow managed to squeeze herself into the opening and, with a makeshift rope, tried to lower herself from her former employers' seventh-storey Housing Board flat.

But she lost her grip and ended up falling down the dark and dirty chute, injuring her spine and leg.

Now recuperating at a shelter in Batam, Rindu, who declined to give her full name, told TNP last Friday in English: "I just wanted to go away. I didn't think about the injuries. Maybe I'm crazy."

Recalling the days leading up to her escape attempt in November last year, she said her first month at work was fine and went smoothly.

She had come to Singapore in hopes of earning money to supplement her mother's irregular income, and it was her first job.

DEPRESSED

But Rindu soon became depressed after being allegedly mistreated by her employers. The Ministry of Manpower has disputed her claims. (See report below.) The employers have also reportedly engaged a lawyer for the case.

"I'm on a transfer (to another family), but I think I want to go away from this situation. I cannot wait like this. Because the situation at that time, I was really depressed..." she told TNP.

In three days, she hatched her escape plan. She would leave through the rubbish chute.

To her, that was the "safest" and only way. She said the door was electronically locked and she did not have the keys.

Neither the stench nor the danger of the act crossed her mind.

"The rubbish would be 'soft-soft', that was what I thought..." said the Indonesian.

Rindu also claimed she did not know who to seek help from, even though she attended the Settling-In Programme in September last year.

The programme teaches first-time foreign domestic workers the different avenues to seek help from, including the hotline number to call.

"I wanted to try calling the police but I didn't know the number," she said.

In the wee hours of Nov 21 - just over 2½ months into her job - she fashioned a rope by tying four bedsheets together.

One end was tied to the handle of the rubbish chute hopper, while the other end was looped around her waist.

She had intended to use the rope to hoist herself down seven storeys to safety.

But things did not go as planned and she ended up falling down the chute.

"I wanted to climb down slowly but my arms were not strong enough. It was very dark and scary, and I was crying," she said.

"I don't know how long it took (to fall) but I know it was very, very fast."

She landed in a heap of what felt like paper in the collection bin. It did nothing to cushion her fall, as she felt sharp stabs of pain in her waist and back.

Alone in the dark, all she could do was shout: "Help! Help!"

About 10 minutes later, she was discovered by a cleaner who works under foreman Islam Shafiqul, 35. It was about 6.15am by then.

The Bangladeshi national told TNP that a resident, believed to be Rindu's former employer, had requested for the collection point door to be opened as "something had dropped inside".

Mr Islam said: "My worker (the cleaner) thought the resident dropped a key because people drop these things. But when he pulled out the bin, he saw a hand shaking and a voice saying 'Help me'.

"He was very scared, so he called me over. I also cannot believe, how can a (person) be inside?".

By the time he rushed over, Rindu was about to be taken away by an ambulance.

Everything that happened after that was a blur, Rindu told TNP.

She only remembered waking up in the National University Hospital, where she went through three surgeries.

The fall left her with a leg fracture. She also has eight rings attached to her spine to hold it in place and has to wear a waist brace.

In mid-January, she left for Batam and is now recuperating in a shelter.

Her family in Indonesia does not know about her injuries.

"I just told them I'm in Batam and that I'm okay. My mum is 65 years old, I cannot make her worry like that," said the second of three sisters.

Rindu is fretting about not being able to send money home.

But when asked if she will come back to Singapore to work again, she hesitated.

Then, she quietly said: "No, I'm traumatised."

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