Xyza Bacani's life changed when she won a scholarship to study and practise photography in New York.
Previously employed as a domestic worker in Hong Kong, she became interested in photography as a way of recording her fellow workers' lives - and the abuses they were subjected to.
Ms Bacani tells her story to BBC 100 Women.
100 Women 2015
This year's season features two weeks of inspirational stories about the BBC's 100 Women this year and others who are defying stereotypes around the world.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram using the hashtag #100Women. Listen to the programmes here.