ABU DHABI // More than 200 Filipinas who fled their employers after alleged abuses are getting help to find jobs in their home country before they go back. Grace Princesa, the Philippines ambassador, hopes her programme will ensure that the women never have to leave home again to look for work. The workers, mostly housemaids, are living in a shelter at the Philippines Overseas Labour Office in the capital after fleeing their employers' homes. Some have complained they were deprived of food and sleep, others said they were mistreated or overworked, or were not paid.
It is hoped that the programme will eventually serve all Filipinas returning home from the UAE. "We should start giving them jobs and empower them," Ms Princesa said. "But it has to be sustainable. Migration is a very big issue and it's not only about providing food and repatriation assistance. We have to look at it from a wider perspective. Some may be battered women." Ophelia Almenario, the Philippines welfare officer in Abu Dhabi, said: "The ambassador would like to link up with local government units and organisations [in the Philippines] to provide these women a job or a means of livelihood so there will be no need for them to work overseas."
The labour department in Manila already has a reintegration programme for documented migrants and those registered with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. "Here in Abu Dhabi, we will provide training for both the documented and undocumented workers to help them reintegrate with their communities," Ms Almenario said. Before going home, the women should be taught things such as how computer or business skills, or other trades such as hairdressing, Ms Princesa said. "We have to maximise the potential of everyone here."
The programme, part of the ambassador's three-year plan, will involve the Overseas Labour Office documenting where the women are from, why they went abroad and why they left their employers. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org