Feli Ann A. Urcia, 40, a distressed Filipino domestic helper (DH) in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, arrived last Wednesday after ten months of working in the Kingdom.
From Ilocos Sur where she and her family live, she sent a text message to this writer on Thursday to thank everyone who helped her come home.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga tumulong sa akin upang makauwi ako,” she said.
(I thank all the people who helped me come home.)
She complained of contract violations, overwork, lack of food, and unpaid salaries.
I forwarded her complaint to Rafael E. Seguis, retired career foreign service officer (FSO), who referred it to Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Undersecretary and Officer-in-Charge Hans Leo J. Cacdac and Labor Attache Hector “Hecky” Cruz of the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) in Al-Khobar, in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province.
She said she arrived in Saudi Arabia on March 23, 2023, and was fetched from the airport by Yasser Mohammed Alislish, brother of her employer Laila Mohammed Alishlish.
But she worked in the house where Yasser and his parents lived. The employer was in another house.
Her employer’s parents made her work for other families and collected fees for every hour she worked.
On her return after working for other families, she was also made to do household chores.
“Ginawa akong on-call house cleaner,” she said.
(I was made an on-call house cleaner.)
Asking her to work for someone other than the employer was a contract violation.
Making her work for other families for a fee was another violation.
She complained of overwork, as well as insufficient food. She requested to be returned to the agency Asia Planet Placement Agency. Still, her employer refused, saying she had to pay SR20,000 (P301,000).
The amount was what the employer spent on hiring her from the Philippines.
She informed her parents in Lallo, Cagayan Valley, regarding her situation. They contacted the agency in Manila.
Then, a relative, Jennifer Solario Andres, contacted Cathleen Maire Costales of Allacapan town, whom we had helped earlier as a distressed DH in Taif, near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Costales arrived from Taif on October 17, 2023.
Costales suggested to Andres to contact me.
Urcia had stopped working, and the employer told her she would not be given food.
“Mabuti na lang at yung ibang Pinay DH ay binibigyan ako ng kalahati ng pagkain nila,” she said.
(It was good that the other Pinay DHs gave me half of their food.)
In the meantime, the agency in the Kingdom told Urcia’s parents not to worry because she was already in its living facilities, which was not true.
“Nasa bahay pa ako kung saan nakatira si Yasser at magulang nila,” she said.
(I was still at the house where Yasser and their parents were staying.)
On January 17, Urcia sent a text message requesting an update on her case. I told her I would follow it up.
On Thursday morning, she sent a text informing me that she had arrived in the Philippines, having left Saudi Arabia on a Gulf Air flight on Wednesday.