Magdalen Wilson (Domestic Workers United)
My name is Magdalen Wilson and I was born and raised in St. Lucia. I went to bartending school and I am a health aid and also went to school for that. I have been coming to the United States for twenty-three years, and going and coming, and I’ve now been living here for ten years. I had my first daughter at nineteen and at twenty-four years I had my second child, which was a boy. So far both of them have done very well. My daughter went to a university and is a teacher, and my son went to college also. My son did two years of college, but then he took a break and he’ll be doing the rest later.
Back in St. Lucia I had my own business for thirteen years. It was a shop and a bar; I used to sell clothes, liquor, groceries—it was everything in one. But I wanted more education for my son because he always wanted to come to the United States to finish school. So I left and I came here. Coming to the United States my first job was working at a daycare, my sister-in-law’s daycare in Virginia. And then I came to Brooklyn and started babysitting. Then I did bartending for four years, then elderly care, and again I’m doing babysitting at the present time.
I’ve been with DWU for three years. We have meetings, we do groups, and we do plays. Most of the time we go out to let other workers know their rights, which a lot of them still don’t know. Domestic workers need to know their rights. One woman we met said she was getting only $200 a month, and if I hadn’t heard that from her mouth, I would’ve said somebody exaggerated. But her employers really only paid her $200 a month. They told her that everybody works for the same amount of money. But she went out and learned that wasn’t right. She came to Domestic Workers and now they’re fighting for her rights.
Working on the Tempest with DWU and the Public has been great. So far it’s a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted DWU to come up with a play of our own—no scripts, just a play out of our own mind about what we experience at our jobs; a play that could help change the way people treat their staff. It would be a real message we could send out!