Gripped by a crippling feeling of homesickness, an OFW who just arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last December 6 to work as household helper had threatened to commit suicide if she was not allowed to go back to the Philippines.
Barely over a week on her job, Gina (not her real name) was accompanied by her Saudi employer to the Philippine consulate after she was seen crying and holding a kitchen knife and appeared suicidal.
In an exclusive interview with her employer who requested anonymity, Gina's employer told GMA News that they were scared when they saw her in one corner of the house crying and holding a knife.
The employer said they agreed to take Gina to the consulate as she wished due to the incident.
While at the consulate, the employer showed Philippine foreign officials a video of Gina squatting on the floor crying with a knife in her hand.
Gina even threatened to take her life if she was not allowed to go back home to the Philippines, the employer said, adding they immediately agreed to grant Gina's wish to pacify her and to convince her to let go of the knife.
Gina's employer said she started working in the household on December 6, and since then she acted strangely, looking sad and depressed.
According to the employer, they were scared to leave Gina at home with their small children, unsure what she will do when they were away.
GMA News accompanied Gina and her employer to the office of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) officer Marlyn E. Jamero to calm the hysterical OFW.
Later, a representative of the Philippine recruitment agency that sent Gina to Saudi Arabia arrived and promised to send her back home.
Gina admitted to Assistant Labor Attaché Germie Daytoc that what her employer told them was true, saying that she did it because she missed her two children in the Philippines.
“Sa trabaho kayang kaya ko yung trabaho kahit anong klaseng trabaho ang ipagawa yun lang po talaga homesick lang po,” Gina said crying.
According to her, the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) proved useless in driving away her overpowering feeling of homesickness.
Daytoc said that Gina's problem is common to most mothers who are working abroad, leaving their children behind.
“In her case nakita natin na 12 days pa lang sya dito sa Jeddah, maganda naman yung pakikitungo ng kanyang employer ngunit nakita natin na out of, you know, lungkot, nagawa niya ang bagay na ganon kaya natatakot ang employer nya at dinala sya dito sa atin sa konsulada,” Daytoc said.
Also, Daytoc said that the PDOS is supposedly very comprehensive, covering everything about the difficult life abroad —the differences in culture, the host county's laws, and personal preparedness to deal with the pain of separation, as well as psychological tests for aspiring OFWs before they are allowed to leave.
“I-introduce natin more on psychological na mga bagay, how to cope up with homesickness, siguro sa PDOS natin. I suggest na sana ay isa yan sa dapat na tutukan o major topic 'yan na pwedeng gastusan ng mahaba-habang panahon bago natin papuntahin ang ating mga kababayan sa ibat ibang bansa,” said Daytoc.
Daytoc advised workers leaving the country to work abroad to discern if they are really ready to be an OFW.
He promised to do what he can to help Gina return home. —LBG, GMA News