I took up nursing as a second course because there was a time that people would join the bandwagon of earning money abroad as nurses. But the sad part is that I studied nursing during the time wherein the world was about to experience global recession, 4 years ago.There was an overpopulation of nurses and unemployment rate in our country is very high. Tertiary hospitals would not accept newbies because there are no available slots. They would just accept volunteers but not everyone could afford not having any salary because most people took up nursing as a means to escape economic difficulties and a stepping stone to a better life.
There were limited opportunities for me abroad. The fact is I don’t have the required hospital experience. They require you to have a solid hospital experience and that means being employed in a tertiary hospital. I wondered about seeking employment in the middle east not as a hospital nurse but as a private nurse. I was able to go to an agency and they told me that there’s a good opportunity waiting for me in Abu Dhabi. The agency told me that I would be taking care of a child with cerebral palsy but I should also help in the house. I told myself since I’m living with a family, I might as well do some household chores and they also assured me that there are domestic helpers there, so I don’t have to worry about anything. But things were unexpected when I went there.Not only did I take care of a child, I was also obliged to do the work as a domestic helper. I could not do anything about it since I was already there and helpless. I told myself maybe I could get used to it, so I gave it time, but it was really difficult for me to accept that I was like a domestic helper with special abilities. I gave it 2 months, but at the back of my mind, I really wanted to go back to our country and I needed the chance or an urgent reason to go home. Finally when the salary came, it was lower than the one agreed upon. So I went back to the agency and it seems that my employer could not pay me the salary I was entitled to. The agency told me that I have to wait until another sponsor takes me in but they could not promise me a job related to nursing. They told me I could work as a private tutor or driver. I have a license in the Philippines so they told me I could be a driver too. To cut a long story short, I told the agency that I wanted to go home because I was not satisfied with the work they have been giving me. But it was not easy, they were reluctant to let me go because they still want to earn some profit from me. They told me I have to pay the agency some money as well as my plane ticket back home. I had to seek the help of mother to pay the fee so that I could immediately go back to the Philippines. I felt somewhat guilty because my mother would be the one paying for it but I could no longer bear being a strange land with no one to turn to and with no stable job. I was like a prisoner and I wanted to be free. My mother also told me that if I had any problem I should not hesitate to seek her help. To tell you frankly, we are not economically deprived. My life in the Philippines is comfortable and the reason why I sought job abroad was to gain some job experience and to feel productive.
So the money was produced and I flew back home. The agency asked me to sign a waiver that they have no liabilities whatsoever with regards to my decision to go back home. Maybe they were afraid that I would accuse them of holding me against my will unless I agree to pay them the money. It was like kidnap for ransom. In the end I was so relieved to be able to go back home and I learned how to appreciate our motherland.
It’s really ironic that many Filipinos want to work abroad in search of a better life but some of them especially OFWs get disappointed because the disadvantages weigh more than the advantages. They are prone to abuse, and the abuse starts when they apply in agencies. Some are willing to give placement fees even though at the back of their minds they know that there should be none. This is true especially in the Middle East. They just want an easy way to leave the country. Agencies promise them and assure them that they will be getting a job fast, so applicants should also produce the money fast. They have this medical clearance from clinics recommended by the agency, and they are charged an exorbitant fee. Agencies are not even transparent when asked about the working conditions and there is no assurance that the jobs and responsibilities stated in the contract especially about the agreed salary would be followed.
In the Middle East, when you become a household worker, there is no more distinction between a household helper, a private tutor or a private nurse. They require you to multi-task, so it turns out that private nurses become household helps with special abilities. Nurses are lured into working as private nurses because it is easier to become one than in hospitals abroad especially if you are a newbie. There is not much job opportunity in our own country, and nurses can earn more abroad. There is also something wrong with the sponsorship system because some employers are fickle minded, and processing and cancelling of visas are easily done. There is really no job security. You can not even stand up for yourself and they can fire you easily. Employing household workers is like a modern day slavery. This is a sad fact.Those who last for a long time enough to finish their contracts swallow their pride and sense of dignity because they needed the money and they have no means to go home.
I now understand the plight of many OFWs abroad especially household service workers.They go through a lot of sacrifices to earn money.They even withstand the cruelty and inhumane treatment of their employers. I realized that there are may sad stories than happy ones in the Middle East and this became an eye-opener to me.
I also realized that behind the notion that OFWs earn a lot of money, are hidden stories that are really sad . It is really a result of blood, sweat and tears. If there are opportunities to earn big in our own country they wouldn’t have left. It’s also good to feel free in our own native land and not being treated as slaves.
© 2012, Filipino Nurses. All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: The accuracy of all articles contained in this website are the responsibility of their respective authors. All articles are for informational purposes only and are NOT intended to replace the advice of a doctor. The owner of this site disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on these information. If you have any health-related questions, please consult your physician. If you feel ill, please seek medical attention immediately.