Yesterday, my husband and I went to the Philippine embassy in Riyadh to secure a voter’s registration for the 2016 Presidential and Senatorial election in the Philippines.
We did it not only to exercise our rights but also to express our strong desire to have future leaders who can inspire every ordinary Filipino citizen to make significant changes for his fellow countrymen both in the Philippines and abroad.
A few months ago, I have had the chance to visit the distressed male Overseas Filipino Workers in Riyadh through the help of a generous organization here.
The various goods given by the different individuals in the organization were divided into 10 packages corresponding to the 10 groups of workers residing there. Each pack contained cooking ingredients, toiletries, and other basic necessities.
I found out that there are 104 workers staying in that Rest Home. They came from different companies. Common reasons for leaving their employers are insufficient legal documents, salary deprivation, and other forms of maltreatment.
Actual Condition of Distressed OFW:
After distributing the goods, we were invited to have a look inside the house.
I never thought it would be worse than I expected.
The inside of the entire house is used mainly for sleeping area. To have minimal privacy, blankets are used as partitions.
Some use bed mattresses, and some sleep directly on a sleeping mat only.
The house is not enough to accommodate the huge number of male distressed workers that some of them are required to stay outside the building and built tents instead.
Surprisingly, the swimming pool has not been spared to be used as sleeping area.
According to a friend, the Philippine embassy pays for the rental of the place, electric, water and internet bills. In addition, there is a daily food budget per person.
Although it may not be enough, having a little is better than not having anything at all.
The kindness of many organizations/communities fills the inadequacy of the basic supplies.
Every individual distressed worker has his own plan.
Some are waiting for the support from the embassy to bring them back home to the Philippines.
Some are working on their release papers from their previous employers so they can legally apply to another job.
After seeing the condition of our Kababayans, there were some questions kept seeking immediate answers in my mind.
Do their families in the Philippines know about their real situation?
How do their families in the Philippines survive if they can not perform the role as bread winner?
How do they overcome the physical and emotional stress of this condition?
I was able to speak with Kuya Tony (not his real name), an electrician from Cebu City and his family stays in Sta. Rosa. He is lucky enough to stay inside the house with a comfortable bed matress. His family is aware of his situation and supports him by constant communication through Facebook and Skype. His wife sells cooked food to support their children. He is very hopeful to have the release paper and be able to find a new employer.
Others certainly have different situations compared to Kuya Tony.
But all them have the common wish of getting out of the miserable condition and be able to have a normal life as a worker, as a husband and as a father.
After this experience, I couldn’t help but to utter grateful words to God for letting my family stay comfortably here in Saudi Arabia.
This privilege has inspired me to support our distressed kababayans with the hope that this post will reach many hearts to help them answer their prayers for themselves and their families in the Philippines.
In times like this, any form of support matters.
Any help can significantly make a difference regardless of status in life, religion, gender or age.
Be thankful and be a blessing to others,