x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Jailed Filipina mother and daughter flying home

A Filipina mother and daughter in jail for six months can fly home after expatriates offered to fund their tickets home.

Mariam Calvez, 47, and her daughter, Roxanne, 25
Mariam Calvez, 47, and her daughter, Roxanne, 25

DUBAI // Thanks to the generosity of the expatriate community, the ordeal appears to be over for a Filipina mother and daughter who fled their employer and ended up spending more than half a year in jail because they did not have money to pay for their deportation flights. Mariam Calvez, 47, and her daughter, Roxanne, 25, are scheduled to take an Emirates airline flight to Manila this morning. Roxanne, speaking by phone from the Dubai Central Jail in Al Aweer today, said: "We were not expecting people we didn't know to help us, because we were depending on our government officials to do so. My mother and I were close to losing hope until we got our travel documents and were told about our flight schedule."

Her mother said they had to bear with the petty fights that erupted among the inmates. "They're quarrelling every day," Mrs Calvez said. "We did not interfere and tried to stay out of trouble for six months." The pair, who both worked as housemaids, fled their Emirati employer's home in Abu Dhabi on September 2 last year after complaining of mistreatment and unpaid salaries, according to an officer at the Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi. Roxanne arrived in the country in November 2008 and her mother joined her seven months later, in July last year.

Mrs Calvez claimed she did not receive two month's salary and that her daughter worked unpaid for four months. They also complained of insufficient food and overwork. Both went to Dubai and worked as part-time catering staff in Dubai at various functions before they were arrested on January 23 for working illegally in the country. With no passports or air tickets for their journey home, they sought help from embassy officials who referred them to the consulate in Dubai. On July 8, consulate officials issued them with travel documents since the pair could not retrieve their passports from their former employer in Abu Dhabi.

Albert Alba, a public relations manager in Dubai, began co-ordinating donations last month after reading the mother and daughter's plight. Almost Dh4,000 was raised for their flights to Manila and on to their hometown in Pagadian City, about 800km south of Manila. Lou Tracena, 47, a Filipina executive secretary in Dubai, and her group of friends donated Dh1,550. Ramesh Rayen, 44, accountant in Abu Dhabi who is originally from India and is married to a Filipina, contributed the rest. "When something like this happens, we need to help each other," Mr Rayen said. "We're expected to support the community." rruiz@thenational.ae