A Tale Of A Private Nurse

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.

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About marieands 1 Article
I have 2 degrees yet I'm still struggling like everyone else. I wanted to be independent from my family yet I still ask for their help in times of difficulties. These are trying times. I used to see life in rose colored glasses but over the years I learned to appreciate life in a more realistic way and gained wisdom eventually. There are good and bad experiences, but we all learn lessons from it. :)
  • karla

    great great article.. i feel and im touch. I wish you the best and hoping that someday not too soon you will reach the satisfaction of being so called nurse. Me too have undergone such experiences. A lot pf times i wanna give up nursing. I really appreciate article like this. experience that is humble and honest.

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  • Sheena

    That’s why nurses should be very keen in accepting any job offers. Make sure to read the contract and everything, and always have another copy of the contract. SO in case that everything that’s said in the contract agreed upon is breached, we have something that can back up us. Why pay when it is not your fault that you don’t want to continue anymore?I don’t understand why nothing could be done, or why it can’t be contested?..because as I see it it’s all the agency’s fault..why shoulder all the cost?

  • marieands

    Thanks for all the nice comments. As for the last comment, it’s really hard when someone is holding you against your will.I experienced my cellphone and money being taken away from me by the agency. They don’t want me to go to the Embassy I guess to complain, or run away and find a job of my own. My mindset at that time was to go home immediately. I couldn’t stand being in their territory. I know they did something bad, but I just wanted to be set free, and not spend any more time with them, If you were in my shoes and you have the easiest way to freedom, you would have done the same.

  • maria

    nice post!!tnx for sharing this!!i can relate to what u been experiencing maybe if i will tell also a story its really close the same with u!!thats exactly what i felt b4 but luckily im still blessed and able to finish my cntract!!