Monday, December 1, 2014

OFWs Are Real Heroes

By Alon Calinao Dy: I'm grateful to meet these industrious expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia. I learned important lessons in life because I witnessed their sacrifices for their families and deep love for their family members who presently live in the Philippines. I was an expat too before I started into blogging. That's why I knew what they'd just been through.

Photo credit: Odette Navalta, Maria Estrada, Alvin Santias, and Jaycee Claveria

I'd been in two nations in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and learned the difference between the two and the life of people who lived and worked in these regions. It was more comfortable to stay in Kuwait than in Saudi. But all OFWs, who endured the hardships of life in Saudi, are very strong people because of how hard their lives really are.

There was a joke from my Indian friends that wherever you'd go, even on the moon, you would be able to see at least one Indian because they are now the largest population on earth. I believe in them. I also believe that most OFWs are hard working people because we've experienced poverty in our country. Others say it is in our blood.

In recent years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest population of OFWs in the Gulf regions, where modern heroes are to be found and those who assist the Philippine economy due to their monthly remittances despite the instability of our country. 

Of course, I would not take for granted the sweat and blood of our OFWs who worked in other countries like Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Oman, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, America, Israel, and many more. They are real heroes who support their families in the Philippines and help our economy to become stable despite rampant corruptions in our land.

These people lived the pain of being mistreated in other countries. I felt their loneliness every time they go to work because some family members in the Philippines are sick and they can't attend to their needs. They are nurses who serve well to other nationalities, but they could not take care the demands of their respective households.

Photo credit: Bevic, Jeremy, Fidz, Lydia, and Melrose

I have understood the sacrifice of most domestic helpers. Many of them are well-educated and professionals and are being raped by their employers. Because of the needs, they set aside their pride and self-worth. I have seen most of them in our Philippine consulate, asking for assistance. Their families left behind in the Philippines do not have ideas, whether they are still alive or not. 

Some domestic workers who run away from their employers have left their passports. They prioritized their own safety at work and the loved ones who hope for their financial backing. The undocumented Filipinos, because of the fear of imprisonment, some would live with their boyfriends and mostly Pakistanis, Bangladesh, Indians, and even Filipinos.

Some OFWs become victims of unpaid wages, sexual abuses, discrimination, and maltreatment. Many of them shut their mouths off and close their eyes, yet hoping for greener pastures in life. Many of them endure the pain and loneliness to avoid embarrassment from their families and friends. Many of them have big dreams, but they let their children live up with that bright future.

They are not slaves in foreign countries, but they are real heroes who battle poverty in life. Remember, no human being is born as a slave. Although I left my friends out there, my thoughts and love are with them.

Mabuhay sa lahat ng OFWs!