Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February 24, 2009

Mentally ill OFW in Jeddah returns home at last
RONALDO CONCHA, GMANews.TV02/24/2009 02:40 PM
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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - After waiting for one whole year, a mentally ill overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Jeddah has finally returned to the Philippines.

Monira Badam Mama, a Filipino domestic helper from Talayan, Maguindanao, went home on a flight via Gulf Air on Monday night and was set to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on Tuesday afternoon with welfare officer Romualdo Exmundo.

Mama is one of the many distressed OFWs who have sought refuge at the shelter for distressed workers inside the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.Because of her condition, she can’t even remember the name of her four-year-old son and to what countries she has previously worked.According to the records of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Mama was brought to the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah on February 18, 2008.

OWWA volunteer Jennebel Cuaresma said that Mama was already mentally unstable when they admitted her to the shelter, officially called the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC).Exmundo said they couldn’t repatriate Mama right away because they had a hard time finding out who her employer was and which manpower agency deployed her.It was only after the domestic helper got a little better when OWWA officials were finally able to get the name of her agency.

They reportedly tried to coordinate with the agency but it would not answer their calls, after which they found out that the establishment had been suspended.They also checked Mama’s documents at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and proved that she entered Saudi Arabia legally.

Ther recruitment firm that deployed Mama reportedly sent an airplane ticket for the OFW’s repatriation but Exmundo refused to take itHe said that a higher OWWA official in Manila told him to only take the ticket if the agency would give information about Mama’s employer where she worked for three months.

“Sa kabila ng nangyari ay pasalamat pa rin ako at nakipag cooperate din sa bandang huli ang employer ni [Mama]. Ibinigay nya sa amin ang mga importanteng dokumento na hinihingi sa amin ng immigration kaya nakahinga ako don," he said.

[Despite everything that happened, I am thankful that Mama’s former employer cooperated with us. He/she also gave us all the important documents that the immigration was asking for, that’s why I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.]Anang Ismael, one of the runaways in the center, said it was really sad to think that OFWs like Mama arrive in the Kingdom normal but come home in a mentally unstable state.

“Si Monira ay biktima ng isang sirkumstansya kaya sya ay dinapuan ng ganyang karamdaman. Hindi naging maganda ang kanyang sinapit dito sa gitnang silangan dahil lamang sa hangaring matulungan at mabigyan ng kinabukasan ang kanyang pamilya," added Exmundo.[Mama was a victim of circumstance. In the desire to help her family, she experienced something unpleasant in the Middle East.]

Mama is to be brought to the main OWWA office in Manila upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and her family will be tracked down.She will then be brought to hospital for further treatment.

Exmundo thanked everyone who helped repatriate Mama, especially Saudi Arabia’s immigration and the doctors who previously tended to the distressed OFW.The OWWA has already sent home three mentally ill OFWs since November 2008. - with Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV

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