It’s not easy working abroad as an OFW. In fact, it is a great sacrifice to leave your family behind to search for greener pastures. But many have to do it because of having no choice. In our case, we advise everyone and most especially to those who are raising a family, if you can find a job in our country that pays decent salary, try to choose that option first. As it’s quite difficult and it’s a different set up if you are working alone abroad.
Also Read: 10 Reasons Why You Should NOT Become an OFW
This article shares specific challenges faced by OFWs in Dubai; what adjustments one has to make, and problems that arise for being away from family. Hopefully, this article will give you an insight into what you may encounter when you start working abroad yourself.
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the experience shared by the OFWs in the videos below. Please let this post serve as a guide only.
Why Working as an OFW in Dubai (or Anywhere) Can be Challenging – Common Problems OFWs Deal With while Abroad
YouTuber Ghiebell Reyes shares the following challenges that most OFWs face while they are working abroad.
Dubai’s climate is extreme. During summer it’s too hot.
In the Philippines, we look forward to the summer as it is the time we can conduct outings or enjoy swimming activities.
However, in the UAE it can be really hot in the summer, especially during the middle of summer. It’s not just the heat from the sun, too. The wind is also painful when it touches your skin. That’s why a everyone is mostly indoors during the hottest months.
During the winter its really nice to go out because the wind is cold.
It rarely rains here; probably just 10 times a year.
The UAE houses around 190 different nationalities. As a result, these are the following cultural differences you will have to adjust to:
You need to understand how to respect the beliefs of other people. Respect not just the locals but other expats. Accept their culture, because they also accept ours.
3. Expenses and High Cost of Living
Not everyone is also lucky to get a high-paying job the first time. Many OFWs who work in the UAE are aware of the high cost of living. Budgeting is a must and you must adjust your expenses based on the salary you are getting.
Especially during your first years, you might have to adjust certain comforts like living in a shared space and sharing with other strangers inside a flat. Food and personal expenses are also factors you will have to think about properly.
4. Getting Sick
In terms of expenses, it’s good that Dubai requires sponsors/employers to cover costs of health insurance for their employees. So in a way, the expenses, if not all, in case you get sick/hospitalized is lessened.
However, when you get sick you are emotional. You are sad when you’re sick and you’re alone. You remember your family, and realize that there’s no one to take care of you, especially if you’re all by yourself. As a result, OFWs need to work together and take care of each other.
5. Children Growing Up
One of the hardest things about being an OFW is that you can’t really witness your children growing up.
You miss a lot of your kid’s important life stepping stones and activities. Some OFWs even feel sadder if they’re taking care of another family’s child, but they can’t take care of their own.
Worst case scenario; some children rebel, and when you go home, your child can’t be as sweet to you as they are to their guardians.
Perhaps the hardest thing about being an OFW is homesickness.
Homesickness doesn’t choose any day or time. Anytime you can feel homesick; before sleeping or waking up in the day. You know it will just arrive. You don’t know how to comfort yourself. It’s that feeling of wanting to hug your family but you can’t.
Sometimes it’s so painful that you can’t cry, and your heart just feels tight and you don’t know how to comfort yourself.
The only solution to homesickness is to go home, but its hard when you have no money to pay for the very expensive air fare. OFWs in UAE can go home once every year or once every 2 years (depending on their contract) and this is technically paid for by their employer. However, for Filipinos who need to go home for emergencies, they will have to shell money out from their own pockets.
7. Bad Employers / Maltreatment
Filipinos who find good employers are very lucky because others may not be as lucky. While there are success stories, there are also sad stories of maltreatment. We are not generalizing this situation but we are mentioning it as a caution for many OFWs that these things do happen, which is the same as what happens everywhere. That is why it is very important that you are aware of your rights and know your worth.
If you do not know your rights as an employee, you might be taken advantage of by employers who might abuse the law. Most especially in situations wherein you might not be aware of. So make sure to understand the law and be aware of your rights.
8. Broken Relationships
Aside from having challenges with being away from your children and being distant, there have been numerous cases of broken relationships between spouses because the husband and wife are not living together.
One spouse is in the Philippines, while the other is working abroad. There may be instance wherein men (or women) will commit adultery and this ends up straining the relationship, creating more problems if the couple has children.
9. Being an ATM Machine to your Family and Relatives
As you go through the cycle of remitting money to your family back home, you might develop a thinking that this is the only thing that you can do in order to support them. Your family and relatives might also develop a bad habit of relying on you always.
Do not take this for granted and remember to share your hardships and communicate with your family what you are sacrificing in order to provide for their monthly needs. So that they will also not treat you like a ‘cash cow’. Be wise and try to teach them not to be dependent on you.
10. No Savings
This goes in line with sending money on a monthly basis. Many OFWs (and even other expats) end up not saving money after countless years of working. So don’t fall into this trap.
After all, this is the reason why you became an OFW, right? Don’t send money unless it is for emergencies and unless it is necessary. Save some for yourself and for your family’s future.
While these challenges are quite daunting and sad, OFWs still manage to provide a better life for their families. It is a decision they have made understanding the challenges along with it, and it is a sacrifice they know they must endure.
We hope that everyone overcomes these challenges and learn to be more efficient as we are not going to be abroad forever. We also hope this serves as an insightful article to raise awareness to those who are planning to work abroad.