Zamboanga City – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Regional Welfare Office IX (OWWA9), an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) awarded livelihood grants worth PHP 20,000 each to 4,251 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amounting to a total of Php 84,770,000.00 from January to September 2018.

The livelihood grants under OWWA’s Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay (BPBH) Program were given to enable OFWs and their families start/manage a livelihood undertaking through self-employment.

It is a cash assistance amounting to Php 20,000.00 given to active or non-active OWWA members who were: (1) Displaced by hostilities or wars/political conflicts, policy reforms or changes by host governments; (2) Victims of illegal recruitment or human trafficking or other distressful situations; (3) Distressed wards at the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Resource Centers who are due for repatriation; and (4) Repatriated OWWA-members who were employed by foreign employers which are beset with financial difficulties due to economic conditions.

OFWs who choose to return to the Philippines and stay in the country for good are given an opportunity to start their own enterprise after undergoing trainings related to their line of business with partner agencies such as Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Ariana Rae C. Abequibel, an Emergency Medical Technician in United Arab Emirates was laid off due to saudization. She made her way to success through all circumstances when she chanced upon a recipe for barbecue and immediately put up Mama’s Homemade Longganisa & Barbecue Store. With the help from OWWA’s BPBH program, her famous longganisa and barbecue are now being patronized not only by the neighborhood but also from faraway barangays in the city.

Another successful OFW who benefitted from the program is Mr. Sabrin H. Asarin. Asarin is a bar tender at KSA when he decided to come home and focus on his Fish retailing. Balik Pinas Balik Hanapbuhay grant helped not only his fish business but also when he expanded into rice retailing. Now he is one of the supplier of fish and rice in their community as well as neighboring provinces in Zamboanga City.

Ms. Bakil had been through a lot of tough times in his journey from an abused and maltreated Household Service Worker to a business woman. Ms. Bakil is a living testimony of how things that seemed to be impossible just get real when there is determination, passion and perseverance. She now stands as one of the growing sari sari store in their community. She is proud that her business is running well and has contributed a lot to her children’s education, well-being of her family and needs of her community.

These recipients were powerfully motivated and their ultimate dream is to successfully make something sustainable out of OWWA’s grant and their hard-earned money. END/With reports from Fatima Jane Salihuddin, OWWA9.

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