I-8 Sunergos helps OFWs in distress in Saudi

It is heartening to know that kind-hearted Filipinos in Saudi Arabia have been assisting compatriots affected by the corona virus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and other adverse developments recently.

    The Kingdom is known to have a strong economy, the biggest among Gulf countries as well as in the region but it has not been spared the global effect of the pandemic.

    The caring Filipinos, working in various firms across the Eastern Region,  belong to a group with a unique-sounding name—Infinity 8 Sunergos (I-8) or Working Together—headed by R.V. Gem “Dhon” C. Fideles.

    Fideles, a charge nurse at the King Fahd University Hospital for the last 15 years, is also engaged in other Filipino community activities.

    I-8 has been tasked by the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWD) to extend assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in distress.

 The DSWD in the Kingdom is headed by Attachè Rosemarie F. Alvez who took over from the hardworking Teresita L. Valentino who finished her Saudi stint in the middle of this year.

    “Recently, I-8 took charge of food assistance distribution to OFWs with various problems,” said Dr. Resurreccion O. Ramos, executive vice president and director for Health.

   Problems include the Covid-19; Saudization, with locals taking  over the jobs of expatriate workers including Filipinos; and the additional levy imposed on dependents, not to mention the high cost of renewing an Iqama (residence certificate).

    “Before we give  assistance, we make sure applicants are qualified under the guidelines set by the DSWD,” Dr. Ramos said.

    The I-8 Sunergos’ dedication, zeal and enthusiasm in assisting economically displaced OFWs have rubbed off on other Filipinos engaged in volunteer work.

    “Some of them have gladly joined us in giving ayuda (assistance) to OFWs in need,” Dr. Ramos said.

    It appears that engaging in volunteer work is the centerpiece of their being part of the community and their day is never complete without giving a bit of help to distressed compatriots.

    Other times they help the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh in its consular outreach, the Embassy on Wheels (EOWs).

    Recently, Infinity 8 Sunergos president Fideles advised an OFW, JC Versoto Batister, Jr., who complained about working in metal production instead of as an air-conditioning technician, the job he applied for at the Kinetic Energy Pipe Support Company in Jubail.

    His complaint was made more urgent by the fact that he was suffering from intense stomach pain. The company could not take him to the hospital so he was told to take a taxi.

    Batister had gone to the hospital three times but the pain did not go away. He was told to go to a bigger hospital with better facilities. He felt better after the visit to the bigger hospital.

    Now, Batister wants to go home but was advised by Fideles that the company’s inability to help him go to the hospital was not enough reason for him to be allowed to go home.

    Batister agreed to finish his contract.

    With the kind of officers and members it has, it seems certain that I-8 will be able to help more OFWs in distress.

   Other I-8 officers include Felicito Y. Arcilla, executive secretary; Lebrada A. Alber, treasurer; Arnold P. Librero, auditor; Eugene D. Umali, business manager; Victoria P.  Magsino  and  Michelle Monica L. Pecson, registered nurses  in charge of community relations; Noel G. Gayoba, Jr. and Jake Zalsos A. Posadas, sergeants-at-arms; and John Picardal and Czarina Muriel Fideles, members.

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