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NGO eyes livelihood training for returning overstayed moms

24 April 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao
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Mothers get briefed by a PathFinders volunteer
 Livelihood skills training for overstaying migrant mothers will be the next focus of NGO PathFinders to prepare the women for their reintegration into the Philippine society when they finally return home with their babies.

This emerged from a briefing on the PathFinders’ Home Country Integration Program,  launched in 2018 to help former domestic workers with children born out of wedlock get on their own back home.
The program was highlighted during the first visit to the Philippines by a team led by board director Lara Fabregas, to meet up with various NGOs and government agencies that could assist the overstayers who take part in the program.

Fabregas, home country integration manager Medina Speers and Carmen Lam, director of services, community education and outreach, gave The SUN a briefing on the visit on Apr 24.

Fabregas, Lam and Speers at the briefing 

“Last year, we had 255 migrant mothers in Hong Kong and about 13.7% of our clients returning home, so, we see that the trend (for going home) is going up and we would need more assistance,” Lam said.

She said the returnees represented 35 families (mothers and their children) comprising 50% Filipinos and 50% Indonesians.

“We hope we can provide more assistance to the ladies who return home as they can face different challenges back home,” Lam said.      

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She pointed out the case of one returnee, identified only as “Elma,” who was already set to return home with her son by a South Asian asylum-seeker but hesitated at the last minute, revealing for the first time alleged threats by her estranged husband.

“She didn’t tell us that she had a husband back home. It made the whole process challenging because we didn’t know about her husband and the difficulties she faced,” Lam said

After being told of the possible risk and consequences of overstaying, Elma returned home as planned.
Lam said that during their visit to the Philippines, they sought help from the Consulate in getting connected to government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development that could monitor and assist the returnees.

She and Fabregas were particularly amused at their meeting with Population Commission Executive Director Juan Perez III, who, they said, gave the team a macro-level discussion of the economy and the problems wrought by workers’ migration.
Fabregas said that initially, the focus was on shelter for the mother and the child, and not livelihood schemes. But she acknowledged it now appears that livelihood back home is the key issue for returnees.

Lam agreed. “Next step, I think we have to tap the NGO network to get things move on easily, I hope. But we need to identify the bread and butter,” she said.

Lam said PathFinders would explore livelihood programs that would accommodate women with mixed-race children out of wedlock. She said that during the visit, their team heard from NGOs about the challenges that women with mixed-race children were facing in their communities.

Speers said Fair Employment, which has a training school outside Metro Manila, had given them ideas about training the returning mothers on certain skills such as beauty care, massage, manicure and pedicure.

She said these are self-employment skills that they use to generate income while their children are at school.

The PathFinders officers said they would seek assistance from the Consulate on providing livelihood training for the migrant mothers before they return home.
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