OFWs staying put in host countries to make a living

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic may have had an adverse impact on overseas Filipino workers (OFW) but that would not stop them from working hard to make a living.

Fernando Robles Jr., a florist in Kuwait, said he feels safe working in the Arab nation since strict health protocols are imposed to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.

Due to the pandemic, Chelsea Boutique, the flower shop where Robles works, decided to let their employees report for work every other day.

Robles, while contending with the impact of Covid-19 crisis, has to remain optimistic for his family.

“Ang sitwasyon namin dito, okay naman. Need namin sumunod sa protocol at rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Need namin mag-mask everyday when going to work or outside of the house (Our situation here is good. We need to follow the protocols and rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We need to wear face mask everyday when going to work or outside of the house),” he told the Philippine News Agency.

Robles said he is surviving amid the pandemic since he is one of the OFWs who received financial aid amounting to PHP10,000 from the Duterte administration.

On top of the cash relief from the Philippine government, he is also getting assistance from the Kuwaiti government and his friends in the Gulf country.

“[Noong] December 2020, nakakuha ako [ng cash aid sa Philippine government]. Naka-survive naman ako noong pandemic dahil may mga relief good galing sa government dito at mga bigay ng friends namin (I received the cash aid from the Philippine government in December 2020). I am able to survive because the Kuwait government and my friends gave me relief goods),” Robles said.

‘Great help’ from gov’t

For OFWs who opted to stay abroad, the government ensured that they would also receive an equal treatment by distributing financial assistance to them, Jocelyn Evangelista said.

Evangelista, an assistant teacher in a nursery school in Abu Dhabi, never felt neglected by the Duterte administration because the monetary aid she had received was more than enough to cope with the Covid-19 crisis.

“I would like to thank our government for being so productive in undertaking so many projects for the welfare of the citizens, especially in times of this pandemic. Financial assistance has been provided, especially to OFWs like me,” she said.

Evangelista is currently into a part-time job as a babysitter after the school she is working for was forced to temporarily halt its operations due to the pandemic.

“It was a really a great help for me to sustain my needs. I really appreciate all the help from our government. We are in this together and all have our part to play,” Evangelista said.

The Duterte government, through the Department of Labor and Employment, has released a one-time cash grant worth PHP10,000 to each OFW whose employment has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government has also intensified its repatriation efforts amid the crisis, paving the way for the return of more than 300,000 distressed OFWs.

As of December 2020, a total of 300,838 OFWs from all over the world have been brought home since the government launched its repatriation program in February last year, according to the figures released by the Department of Foreign Affairs. (PNA)

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