Dubai: Approaching the airport counter on Monday night, her luggage in tow, Ruth Jumawid wore a pensive look.
Jumawid, along with 16 other women, made for the biggest batch of Filipinas to be repatriated so far by the Philippine government through the Philippine Consulate General’s (PCG) Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Section with the aid of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Dubai.
Around 20 Filipinas, the majority of whom had been working as housemaids, were supposed to return home together but the remaining three individuals couldn’t make it after encountering problems with their travel documents. In roughly 10 hours, the group would touch down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on board a Gulf Air flight. Many of the women were beaming and eager to go home.
Some were excited but a bit anxious nevertheless. “I’m happy that finally I could go home and be with my family,” Jumawid told Gulf News before checking in at the airport. “Although it’s heartbreaking knowing that I failed to fulfil my dreams for my family here, I’m grateful to God that I’m still blessed with this gift of life,” she added.
Vicky Ariston’s eyes lit up with the thought of finally being able to embrace her three children again. She only had words of gratitude for the people who had helped her. “I’d like to thank the Philippine government for helping me come home alive.”
Ariston declared it would be her first and last attempt to seek employment abroad. Her other option back home is to avail of the livelihood training programmes and opportunities on offer to displaced workers through the government’s Balik Pinay, Balik Hanapbuhay programme.
“They will be given 1,000 to 10,000 pesos [Dh867] worth of pre-training and starter kit. So whatever training they want to avail, it will be given free as a grant. Plus, it will involve a livelihood business,” labour attaché Delmer Cruz, who saw off the group at the airport, told Gulf News.
The group is the third batch to be repatriated this month.
An earlier batch of 13 Filipinas had left for the Philippines on August 4. Smaller sets of repatriation were also conducted earlier this year.
“So far this is the biggest group this year. We were able to repatriate them as a group at this time because it’s not the peak season to travel to the Philippines. Airfare is relatively cheaper,” Philippine Consul General to the UAE Benito Valeriano said.
The repatriation, like the previous batch, is covered by the ATN Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Over 80 more Filipinas are awaiting repatriation. They are currently under the care of the Filipino Workers Resource Centre, a halfway house for distressed Filipinos in various countries, including the UAE.