Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 24, 2009

Distressed OFWs in Jeddah get baking lessons
RONALDO CONCHA, GMANews.TV01/24/2009 04:05 PM

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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – In response to an appeal to help distressed OFWs by arming them with skills that they can use when they go home, a community group conducted baking lessons to about 40 mostly domestic helpers inside the Philippine Consulate General on Friday.

Welfare Officer Nini Lanto of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said the Mary's Joy Outreach Program was the first group to provide skills training for the distressed workers this year.

She said the group also previously donated a gas range with a tank of gas cylinder for use by the stranded workers. "Here they are now doing wonderful things to our wards," she said.

The Catholic group, headed by their founder and spiritual leader Gus Catedrilla, said that instead of just donating goods, they thought of teaching the wards baking skills which they could use in their quest for a decent life.

Catedrilla said group is also planning to conduct visits for sick OFWs in hospitals and to pray for those languishing in jails since visits are not allowed.Mary's Joy Outreach Program was founded in July 2007 in Jeddah with around 50 members, whose main objective is to cater to the spiritual needs of OFWs.

Catedrilla said they translate the spiritual needs into action. "This is what we call the corporal work of mercy that we will address the physical needs of the OFWs. We don’t have enough treasure to give but we have enough time and talent to share to our brothers and sisters especially to those who are in need of help who ever they are," he told GMANews.TV.

Catedrilla, a 56-year-old engineer from Angeles City in Pampanga, said their service is not only for the runaways staying at the OWWA shelter in the consulate but for all OFWs who are in need of spiritual help.

Fred David, one of the lecturers during the baking workshop, said he was overwhelmed to share his skills to the distressed workers. Lanto said it was unfortunate that not all the wards at the shelter attended.

“There were some who did not attend. We don’t force them to join if they don’t want to. Maybe that is not their forte," she said.As of Friday, around 64 distressed OFWs are currently staying in the center, either awaiting repatriation or waiting for their labor cases to be resolved.

The eldest is a 63-year-old sewer from Zambales, who is scheduled for repatriation to the Philippines at the end of the month.

Still, Lanto said, "I am very happy that most of our wards were very interested to learn."Parapharasing the oft-quoted Chinese proverb, she explained: “I keep on telling them that what we are doing is not to feed them fish but to teach them how to catch fish. By equipping them with skills and knowledge, we feed them for a lifetime." - GMANews.TV


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