INFORMATION BLITZ: Paalala sa mga OFW-members ng PhilHealth: Ang PhilHealth membership and contribution ay MANDATORY ayon sa batas kaya magpamiyembro at magbayad ng kontribusyon bago umalis ng bansa. Seguraduhin ang proteksyon ng kalusugan ng iyong sarili at pamilya.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

OFW finds new hope in OWWA’s Balik Pinas, Balik Hanap Buhay Program
By Jocelyn P. Alvarez

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Jan. 27 (PIA)  -  Four months into the job as a house help in foreign land Qatar without salaries and deprived of medical assistance, Vanessa Alcantara can still vividly recall her dreadful plight when she ran away from her former employer and sought shelter at the Philippine embassy.

Alcantara was no neophyte as an OFW. She first worked as a domestic helper in the State of Kuwait in 2008 to 2010. After finishing her two-year contract, she went back to the Philippines.

In 2014, this single mom who hails from Isabela City, Basilan Province and a mother to four children, again worked as household help, this time, in Qatar where she has to stand working without salaries.

Vanessa recounted, her former employer withheld her salaries for four agonizing months for reasons she did not know and even denied her of medical benefits. She had to pay for her own food and other basic necessities. This situation prompted her to run away from her employer and braved her way to the Philippine embassy where she found solace from her misery.

When in the embassy, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) took care of her and helped her get back to the Philippines. Vanessa was grateful for OWWA’s assistance from the time she was at the embassy until her return in Zamboanga City.

New Hope thru Balik Pinas, Balik Hanap Buhay Program
Left with four children to take care of, Vanessa sought the help of OWWA IX by availing the Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay (BP-BH) Program, a livelihood assistance for displaced/distressed OFWs .
In November 2015, Vanessa was granted her starter kit to help her start anew. She was among the 30 OFWs who were granted P10,000 worth of starter kits.
Karen Claire Q. Grafia, Labor Communication Officer-OWWA proudly shared Vanesa’s success story saying  Vanessa initiated her chosen enterprise. As she had prior training and knowledge on baking pastries and meat products, Vanessa began her small-scale business by selling home-made chorizo and cakes.”

“She earns her income by accepting orders from her customers in nearby barangays of Isabela City and Zamboanga City. Through this, she is now able to support her children’s education and daily needs without having to go back abroad.”
Vanessa also took part in the training conducted by OWWA on Financial Literacy Course. This is to educate her and the rest of the beneficiaries  on the proper management of money, ways and means to earn and invest as well as donate it to help others.
What is Balik Pinas, Balik Hanap Buhay Program?
“Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay!” Program is one-time-availment, non-cash, livelihood assistance intended to provide immediate relief to returning OFWs who were displaced from their jobs due to wars/political conflicts in their host countries, or were maltreated, or victimized by human trafficking or other distressful situations

It is a package of livelihood assistance amounting to P10 thousand consisting of techno-skills and/or entrepreneurship trainings, starter kits/goods and/or such other services that will enable beneficiaries to quickly start a livelihood undertaking.
The program aims to enable the beneficiaries to be multi-skilled through access to training services by training institutions like TESDA, DTI, and NGOs.

 It also equips the beneficiaries with skills that are highly in demand in the local labor market and enables them to plan, set-up, start and operate a livelihood undertaking by providing them with ready-to-go rollout self-employment package of services, consisting of short-duration trainings, start-up kits/goods business counseling and technical and marketing assistance.

OWWA members with finished employment contracts shall not be entitled to this Program. The Program can be availed only once by eligible beneficiaries and within one year after return to the country.