Sunday, August 2, 2009

July 31, 2009

Homesick Pinay jumps off building in Saudi Arabia
07/31/2009 04:03 PM

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - A Filipina domestic helper in Saudi Arabia has been hospitalized after jumping off a building in what an official said could be a case of depression.

Veronica Lascano, 24, jumped from the first floor of the building in Jeddah where she was working at around 6 a.m. last July 3, a welfare officer at the Philippine Consulate General said.She suffered injuries at the back and other parts of her body from the incident.

She is currently confined at the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah.In an interview, Lascano said her employer was very kind but that she really couldn’t cope with the though of being separated from her family."Hindi ko po alam ang gulu-gulo ng isip ko noon.

Kahit po ako iniisip ko kung bakit ko nagawa ‘yun (I don’t know what I was thinking, my mind was a mess. Even I don’t know why I did that)," she said.“Wala naman akong problema sa amo ko. May mga kasama naman ako pero ‘di ko po alam kung bakit ko nagawa ‘yun, lagi nga po akong umiiyak at laging naiisip ang aking pamilya," she added.(I have no problem with my employer. I also have some companions there, but I was still lonely.

I always cry and think about my family.)Lascano, who came to Saudi Arabia last March 2, is from Malolos, Bulacan where she has a husband and two children.Learning from the incident, Lascano advised other aspiring OFWs to make sure that they can stand the loneliness of work abroad.

Different caseAccording to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, the number of domestic helpers jumping off buildings was nothing new. But they were quick to add that Lascano’s case was different from the other cases that they have handled. In most cases, the workers were maltreated or exploited by their employers.

OWWA Welfare Officer Romualdo Exmundo said Lascano was apparently suffering from loneliness due to separation from her family and difficulty in adjusting to a foreign environment.Exmundo assured Lascano of help from the OWWA.

Lascano’s employer is arranging for her repatriation.One of the benefits being offered by OWWA is for disability but the case still has to undergo assessment to determine whether the disability is permanent or not.

“Payo ko sa kanya na itago nya lahat ang medical records nya at pagdating nya sa Pilipinas ay pumunta sa OWWA at titingnan kung ano ang step by step na dapat gawin para ma-evaluate ang kanyang sitwasyon," said Exmundo.(I advise her to keep all her medical records. When she returns to the Philippines, she should go to OWWA and look into how she can have her situation evaluated.)

On mandatory psych testsThe Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has proposed that household service workers undergo mandatory psychological tests to prevent incidents like that of Lascano from happening.

The DFA said the proposal was triggered by the recent spate of cases of runaway Filipino workers who are said to have been unable to adjust to life in the Middle East. Then DFA spokesperson Claro Cristobal said the test is only aimed at protecting the welfare of OFWs abroad. [See: Psych tests will protect OFWs - DFA official]"The psychological test is aimed at checking whether or not the coping mechanism of Filipino workers is well," he said.

He added that even DFA and embassy officials undergo such tests before they are deployed to other countries. “It is needed simply because it is very stressful overseas," he added. The test, however, received flak from various migrant workers’ groups. [See: More groups nix proposed psych test for migrant Pinoy domestics]Migrante International said such a policy would only castigate Filipino workers as mentally unfit and unstable for work in other countries.Instead of preparing OFWs, the group asserted that employers should be made to undergo psychological tests to determine if they are fit to employ foreign workers.. - with Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV

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