Saturday, February 27, 2016

OWWA provides assistance to 21 nurses, medical workers from Kuwait

TWENTY-one overseas Filipino workers (OFW) nurses, assistant nurses, and medical workers from Kuwait are the initial beneficiaries of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-led Assist WELL Program whose primary objective is to extend immediate assistance to returning OFWs who are displaced due to war or other distressful situations or economic problems in countries where they work, or are victims of calamities, epidemics, and labor problems. Assist WELL is acronym for Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood program for returning OFWs. The 21 Filipino migrant workers are the first recipients of the program when it was launched last week at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) building in Ortigas, Pasig City.

The returning female OFWs were met by OWWA at the NAIA in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait.

Hindi nasunod ang nakasaad sa pinirmahan naming kontrata kaya nagdesisyon kami na umuwi na lang ng Pilipinas,” these are the words the returning OFWs who supposedly applied for employment in a hospital in Kuwait as nurses, assistant nurses, and medical workers, but ended up as care givers instead.

According to OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado, who met the female OFWs when they were brought to OWWA Center in Pasay City, the remaining eight OFWs who have no relatives in Manila will be temporarily accommodated at the OWWA Halfway Home, before proceeding to their respective provinces. Out of the eight OFWs, five are from Mindanao, while the rest are from the Visayas and Luzon.

The affected workers narrated about their work experience and the reason why they opted to be repatriated. One of the nurses disclosed that instead of working in a hospital, they were forced to work in different homes as caregivers depending on the need or call of their foreign recruitment agency (FRA). Their situation, the OFWs added, was aggravated when they were paid only for hours worked which is a violation of their contract. More so, common quarters provided by their FRA served as their accommodation.

Under the Assist WELL program, affected workers will be provided temporary shelter. A one-stop-shop processing center will be established to attend to the immediate needs of OFWs upon their return to the country. The processing centers will institutionalize the availment of various assistance provided by DOLE and its attached agencies to OFWs. The agencies involved are OWWA, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).

Aside from temporary shelter, the OFWs will also be offered legal assistance, transportation fare, as well as OWWA’s “Balik-Pinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay” livelihood assistance program. Returning workers may also be referred by the participating government agencies for local employment, or in another country of their choice. Other Assist WELL Centers are located in selected DOLE and OWWA Regional offices nationwide. (OWWA)

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