As an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker), the struggle is real. How will you survive as an OFW? This question I asked myself before when I decided to work abroad for the first time. And even my family asking me if I can do it, if I can survive. And Yes, that was my answer. I was confident, I was determined to work far from them not because I wanted to leave them happily but because at that time I thought that’s the only way I could help them financially. I was scared of course, but like what I’ve said, I was determined that time. I will just share some of my struggles being a worker who is far from the family. I know most of these, or maybe all are the same reasons as millions of OFW around the world.
1. Homesickness – this is my number one, and I guessed most of us (OFW) will agree that homesickness is our number one struggle, our enemy. Even those who work abroad for a long time like me will still fight with this enemy. There were times that everything was just fine at work, but at the end of the day, you will just immediately feel the loneliness, the emptiness and that would be the reason sometimes we just cry for the reason that we miss them, our family. We feel that we are the weakest person in this world. I myself still and will be fighting this challenge until maybe I will go back home for good.
2.Language Barrier / Culture Differences – as I experienced working in the country that English is not the first language, that’s when I learned SIGN LANGUAGE, funny but true. And that’s how I survived and mostly my co-OFW will agree. In Culture differences, if we want to survive in their place, we must respect and follow theirs for us to stay longer. Some of them will also respect ours but mostly we as foreign workers should adjust. We will adjust for them to survive.
3. Maltreatment / Mistreated / Unfair Treatment – raise your hand if you’ve been in this situation, and I’m gonna raise my two hands. Have you experienced being hungry because your employer didn’t provide proper food? Have you experienced sleeping in a room that any time they will get inside without knocking because your room is a stock room? Have you experienced eating curse words with some slapping every day because they want perfect work? Have you experienced asking your salary and reminding them 10x or more? Well, I know these are just minor compared to others who experienced cruel, inhuman maltreatment. And some maltreatment leads to the death of them. I hope protection for us will be tighter than the protection of the employers because of their powers.
4. Financial – when I was young, I had this thought that if I work abroad I will become rich …and I must say now that it’s just a big MYTH (lol). I’m still poor until now but I’m fine, fine not because I’m poor but because I’m able to help my family back home, not as big as others but it’s from my blood, sweat, and tears. I know this is the reason why, why and why we leave our family for us to help them financially. But sadly, others are still struggling and some are heavily in debt. It’s hard to say that we must save for ourselves but if we could I hope we still manage to do that little by little.
5. Don’t Be Sick / We Can’t Afford to Get Sick – if you will get sick, you will be back to number one, Homesickness. Yes, we can’t afford to get sick because no one will take care of us but only ourselves. You are sick, you will work. Most of the employers not all but most, don’t care if you are sick, they care for your work. You are lucky if you have a boss that will understand your sickness, your situation. So, we must take care of ourselves since we are far from those people who will be able to take care of us instead.
6. Hiding The Real Situation – what you see on Facebook or other social media platforms are not really the real situation, not all. You’ll never know what’s behind that smile. You’ll never know what struggles they might be facing if you will just base it on what you see with their posts. I myself sometimes get annoyed with those nonsense posts of others but I will just understand that maybe it is their way to express themselves. It is their way to lessen the burden they have because of their work.