DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A former overseas Filipino worker (OFW), who now runs her own events and digital marketing company, has provided a one-bedroom apartment unit free for fellow OFWs job-hunting in the city.
Michico Lopez Ramos, 38, said she is doing so because she understands how it is to be jobless and with no relatives to ask help from in a foreign land.
“I am doing this to help our kababayan (fellow citizens) struggling to find a job,” Ramos told Rappler.
“Alam ko kasi ang feeling ng walang-wala – as in walang trabaho, walang kita, halos lahat palabas ang pera, like bayad sa bahay, sa utilities, gas, pagkain, and other bills. Wala din tutulong sa iyo kasi lahat din may kanyang-kanyang problema sa buhay,” she said.
Ramos added: “Hindi naman ako mayaman, pero I want to at least be an instrument of God, give them hope and courage to start a new life again, na makatulong in my own little way to lessen their burden sa mga isipin nila sa gastusin para makabangon muli. I’ve been in that situation kaya alam ko ang pakiramdam.“
(I know how it feels to have nothing – to have no job, no savings, to face financial obligations that include rent, utilities, food, and other bills. I’ve been in that situation where nobody else could help because everyone also has problems of their own…. I am not rich, but I just want to at least be an instrument of God to give them hope and courage to start a new life again, and to help in my own little way to lessen their burden. I have been in that tight fix – that’s why I know how it feels.)
Lopez said four males have so far taken refuge at the apartment unit located on the Al Rigga strip in Deira, Dubai – a Filipino enclave. She said they could stay there until they find jobs.
“‘Yung isa, sa rooftop na lang daw natutulog at namamalimos sa Satwa. ‘Yung isa naman, matagal nang nagtratrabaho pero hindi [umano] pinapasuweldo ng amo, kaya ang ending, wala ding pambayad sa bahay at mapapaso na ang visa, hindi alam saan kukuha ng pambayad,” Ramos said.
(One has been sleeping on rooftops, I was told, and begging in Satwa, another Filipino enclave. The other has been working for a while but was allegedly not being paid, and so he has no money to pay the rent. Worse, his visa is about to expire and he has no one to turn to for the fees.)
“It’s a great feeling to be of help to people without asking for anything in return. I believe that God blesses us to bless other people. We don’t know how much our small acts of kindness mean to those we were able to help,” she added in a mix of English and the vernacular.
Ramos obtained her degree in science and information technology at the Far Eastern University Diliman in 2004. It would usually take her up to two hours to commute from their home in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, to school. Going home after class would also take her that much time.
She arrived in Dubai some 15 years ago and had lived through at least three visit visas, which she had to continuously renew to be able to stay in the city while looking for work. A visit visa has a maximum duration of up to three months. Her first job was as sales staff at an electronics shop, selling laptops and mobile phones.
A one-bedroom apartment unit in Dubai costs from AED 38,000 to AED 48,000 a year (P563,187 to P711,394). It can be partitioned into at least five smaller rooms at AED 1,200 to AED 1,500 a month (P17,784 to P22,231). Each partitioned room can accommodate two persons sleeping in bunk beds. Ramos could have just easily rented her unit out and earn, as is the usual practice.
Ramos runs Creative Group, a company she opened a few years back and now has several high-profile clients. – Rappler.com
*AED 1 = P14.83
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