Distressed DH’s memorable experience in Saudi Arabia

Mary Grace Abuyan Battung, former domestic helper (DH) in Saudi Arabia, suffered physically and emotionally working for her employer but there was something she would always look back to.

    On the day she was rescued recently, she was taken to Jeddah. It was a little past 9 a.m. 

   She had to wait 12 hours for her flight to Riyadh where her agency, Abdullah Al Musharaf for Recruitment, is based. It would hand her over to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh (POLO Riyadh) for repatriation.

    The police officer who assisted in her rescue took her to a five-star facility. 

    As he negotiated for her short stay, mixed feelings of curiosity and wonderment gripped her. 

    It was her first time to be in such  a  place where everything looked luxurious. She wondered why they were there.

    She could hardly believe it when she was told she would stay there while waiting for her flight.

    As she headed toward the elevator for her room upstairs, she felt the luxurious ambience that was in  stark contrast to her room at her former employer’s house or their small abode in a far-flung town in Cagayan Valley.

    She enjoyed good food, engendering thoughts of a good life for her family—especially her  kids. 

    It is common knowledge that DHs experience cruelty at the workplace. So they are ready for it.

    When Mary Grace left her family in Baggao two years earlier, she thought she was strong enough to endure the rigors of being a DH.

    But she was wrong. Her ordeal worsened until she could not take it anymore. She was hit twice on the face and the chest. She had bruises from occasions when her sponsor’s wife was displeased with her. She was prevented from communicating with her family and her salaries were delayed.

    Her relatives—Rhea Domingo Calixto in Singapore and Arrah Geid Lumboy in Cagayan Valley— sought help. 

    The case was referred by former Foreign Service Officer Rafael E. Seguis to Consul General Edgar Tomas “Gary” Auxilian in Jeddah for appropriate action. Auxilian and Labor Attache Roel B. Martin of POLO Jeddah coordinated the case before Battung boarded her flight. 

    She is now in Bahay Kalinga wondering when she can be repatriated as her family is waiting for her.

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