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An OFW Story in Saudi Arabia

Updated on May 18, 2016
After 9 months of fighting in the Labor Court, he finally got his plane ticket and exit visa
After 9 months of fighting in the Labor Court, he finally got his plane ticket and exit visa

An OFW's struggle

Most Filipinos thought that working abroad is like milking money from the host country. They considered the OFW's as "bagong bayani" and yet they looked down on them as if these OFW's are slaves in their place of work. The majority of Filipino male workers in this country are skilled workers. You can find them at the construction site, refinery plant, hotels and restaurant, utility services, electrical shops, car workshops, and technical firms. Female workers are clustered as domestic helpers, cleaners, beautician, and few nurses.

Darwin came to Saudi Arabia as a heavy equipment driver. Upon arrival at Dammam airport, the agency representative met him and ushered him to his employer. But the employer was not the employer on his contract, and the job was a family driver. He cannot complain or back out. Where will he go? He signed a monthly salary of 1,500 Saudi Riyal, but the agency changed it to 1,000 Saudi Riyal.

Darwin worked as a family driver for a year without a working permit, driver's license, insurance, food allowance, and a comfortable living quarter. Until one day, his employer dumped him and left him loitering in the street of Dammam. Darwin became a distressed OFW for nine months. He wanted only to go home to the Philippines, but it seemed impossible at that time. His employer filed a case against him in the Labor office accusing him of being an Absent from Work and run away. His employer did not want to handle the penalty fro not securing a working permit (Iqama) for Darwin and a driver's license. So, he pinned the poor OFW's and threw him away.

An OFW who became a victim of contract substitution, unjust labor, and maltreatment from his employer.
An OFW who became a victim of contract substitution, unjust labor, and maltreatment from his employer. | Source

The ordeal of an OFW starts from applying in the agency who send workers in Saudi Arabia. With the desire to leave the country, the applicant has to produce the required amount of money for processing and placement fees. As a result, he or she has to borrow money from loans sharks or sell something of value.

A Filipino worker may experience unjust labor practices, maltreatment, and sometimes being brutally beaten by some Saudi nationals. A Filipina domestic helper has varied bad experiences from the house masters. Very common among the household experiences are hitting, insulting words, name calling, and at times sexually abused.

Bong Concha from the Kaagapay ng bawat OFW's
Bong Concha from the Kaagapay ng bawat OFW's

Sometimes, we may feel that the heaven and earth are against us. Then one day, somebody will come and gives us hope to move one. An OFW will never be alone in his struggle to survive for as long as his or her faith in God and his fellow OFW's are high enough. I have encountered so many OFW's who have broken dreams and disappointing stories from their families back home. They wanted to give up, but because they met some people who can listen to their cries and miseries, they manage to stand up and move on.

Dammam International Airport
Dammam International Airport

At last, Darwin is going home to the Philippines. He may not succeed in becoming an OFW in Saudi Arabia, but he met a lot of people who have a genuine concern for others. His experiences as a distressed OFW in Saudi Arabia taught him a lesson and made him a better person. Someday, he will be back to work in a foreign land. His motivation came from those people who after experiencing difficulties remain standing on their feet and moving on.

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