I’ve been working as an expat in the UAE in the last 2 years and have heard plenty of stories from various kababayans living abroad. There 700,000 plus Filipinos working in the UAE, everyone has their own story, but it all boils down to one reason – to provide for their families.
But along with that desire, I’ve witnessed how many families and relationships were shattered because of the distance, misunderstanding, third-party and self-pity. Nonetheless, I have also seen families who made it through, families who were unaware that they did well.
Things We Want Families of OFWs to Know
So with my two-year stay in Dubai and with the stories I’ve heard and witnessed from fellow OFWs, allow me to share with you the things OFWs wish our families knew before we left the Philippines:
- Don’t get upset when we cannot give you what you want on time. Toys? New gadgets? Allowance? We all want to give them to you. Try to understand that we also have other responsibilities such as paying for rent (both ours and also yours). As much as we love to splurge for you, sometimes we really cannot afford it.
- Do show gratitude by saying thank you and doing good in your studies. It gives us motivation to work even harder as we go about our day to day work life.
- Do express interest when we come home, even if we don’t have enough money to spend when going out. When we come home for a well-deserved vacation, allow us to enjoy our one month with you. Trust me, out of 700k OFW in the UAE, 90% of us are wishing to be with you. Don’t make us feel you’re happy because of the gifts we bring to you. We want to spend as much quality time with you as it helps us ease our homesickness when we have to leave again.
- Do eat the food on your table. I repeat, eat the food on your table. You don’t have any idea what plenty of OFWs are eating a week before our salary. So please don’t waste any food.
- Do believe in us. There are other OFWs who work abroad because they want to improve themselves. Either they were troublesome, bystanders, or addicted-to-something back home. Don’t say they will just make a mess in whichever country they are at because I’ve seen people change and they are doing well in life now and that’s just beyond beautiful.
- Don’t forget about us especially in a few special occasions. How many family events have we missed? And how many have you missed greeting them? A simple “Happy Birthday” or “Merry Christmas” shows us that you’ve not forgotten about us. Loneliness and homesickness is a very common feeling as an expat. You may wish us a “Merry Christmas” first before asking for your present. Facebook notification is even there to help remind you.
- Don’t compare us with other OFWs who have achieved a wealth of success. We all have different interpretation of success, so do not compare. For example, If OFW1 worked abroad for 10 years and acquired three mansions in the city, then why OFW2 who worked abroad for 11 years bought nothing? You think OFW1 did well, right? You just don’t know that OFW2 managed to send all their siblings to college, helped their friends to become successful along with them, provided food on the table without a miss and the list goes on. What’s success to you is just an accomplishment to others whilst the accomplishment of others is success to you, vice-versa.
It’s an unfortunate situation to be away from your loved ones, that we all know. You can’t hug them when you need one and that is just sad. However, at the end of the day, all these sacrifices are meant for all of you. It will bring you the fruit of labor in due time. Meanwhile, everyone abroad is just one Video Call away!
About the Author: Christian Paul Martinez
Christian enjoys travelling, adventures, and does things spontaneously. He is currently working for a leading telecommunications company in the UAE. and you may follow him on his instagram account at instagram.com/aliasbones
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