In debt, but she wants to go home

She came to Singapore so that she could pay off debts.

But Indonesian maid Nuraini Sri Haryati's trip here quickly changed from one of hope to one of horror.

The 29-year-old, who arrived here last month, said she had only been working for 20 days here as a maid when she tumbled out the window of her employer's 12th-floor flat in Block 550, Woodlands Drive 44, on Sunday morning.

And as she held on, thoughts of her daughter, eight, and electrician husband, 33, flashed through her mind.

"If I died, I would be letting them down," she said.

Fortunately she survived, thanks to several people who held on to her for 30 minutes until help arrived.

It started like a normal day for Madam Nuraini.

She said she had been hanging the laundry out to dry.

But that day, after she had slotted one pole with her employer's clothes into the bamboo pole holder outside the flat window, she struggled to slot the next laundry pole into place.

This pole, which held her own clothes, started to tip downwards and the clothes were starting to slide off, she said.

Madam Nuraini thought her employer would be displeased if anything happened, so she climbed onto a stool to reach for the pole.

"I don't know what happened. I don't know how I fell. I was just doing chores. I didn't think I would almost die," she said.

Madam Nuraini, who is warded at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, said her memories of the day are bleary but recalled grabbing onto the metal pole supports to stop her fall.

She screamed for help, catching the attention of her employer's elder sister, who leaned out of the window to try to pull her in.

"I just remember trying to hold on, but my hands were so sweaty and I felt so weak. Then I fell again, but there were people who tried to hold on to me," she said, wringing her hands as she spoke.

Three neighbours who live on the 11th floor held on to her for almost 30 minutes, trying to keep her from falling to her death.

Madam Nuraini, who is an only child and whose parents are dead, said she drifted in and out of consciousness and could think only of her husband and daughter.

She said: "If I fell down, I'd die. That would be the end. In my head, I kept saying 'goodbye' and 'sorry' to my family. I came to Singapore to earn money. In the end, I just caused them trouble."

Madam Nuraini was later rescued by SCDF officers, who pulled her over the ledge and into the 11th-floor flat and took her to hospital.

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