Jailed Filipino nurse has so much to be thankful for

Kimberley Koh, center, with brother EricSon Ladbrador Gallano, left, and Armand Dulay, right, an officer at the OUMWA of the DFA.

Kimberly Koh would rather forget her Saudi stint as a nurse at the All Care Medical Group in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    But she treasures the kindness of  police officers at the  Labor court and Saudi doctors at the health center of Wafidin’s Women Division where she and three other colleagues stayed for two years.

    “The police officers at the Labor court were courteous and respectful while the Saudi doctors were appreciative of the help we extended them, such as in vaccinations,” she said.

    Koh said what made her particularly proud as a Filipino nurse was the compliment of Saudi doctors, quoting them as saying, ”Look at them, they’re very cooperative and don’t hesitate to do any kind of work within their competence and expertise.”

    She added with an emotional voice,”Their compliments warmed the cockles of the heart. I felt proud as a Filipino nurse in the tradition of Florence Nightingale.”

    The good remarks virtually projected an exemplary image for Filipino nurses and made Koh and colleagues more determined to win a good fight against their employer, Sultan Abdallah Akmad Almansour, who filed a counter-charge against them alleging damage to property and theft.

    The nurses charged Almansour with breach of contract, non-issuance of Iqama (residence certificate) and confiscation of their original documents, like certificates.

    Koh was in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for almost five years, having arrived  there on Aug. 29, 2017. During that period, she spent only ten months working as nurse, imprisoned at Malaz Jail for one year and then at Wafidin Women’s Division for two years.

    The Philippine government, through the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh paid SR40,000 (about US$10,600) for the theft case.

    Koh is emotional regarding her family, especially her half brother EricSon Labrador Gallano, Immigration Officer, who sent her money if needed in Riyadh.

    “My brother, aside from acting personally to resolve our case, approached an agency to follow up with the Department of Foreign Affairs. I thanked him for not having stopped helping not only me but my colleagues as well,” she said.

    The colleagues she was referring to were Joan Buenaventura from Mindoro, Angelica Teodoro (Nueva Ecija), Frederica Darjuan (Navotas) and Nena Marie Gapasin (Gen. Trias, Cavite).

    “Simula pa lang pagkabata ko nariyan na siya para sa amin. Nagtitinda siya ng ice cream para maibili  lang kami ng damit hanggang makatapos siya ng pag-aaral nariyan siya para sa amin,” she said.

    (Since we were young, he (EricSon) had always been ready to help us. He sold ice cream so he could buy clothes for us. Even after he finished his studies he was still there to help us.)

   “Noong nakulong ako, marami siyang taong nilapitan. Ang aking kuya ay itinuturing kong hindi lamang kapatid kundi isa ring kaibigan at ama na pwedeng sandalan anumang oras,” she said.

    (When I was in jail, he asked many people for help. I consider my brother not only a sibling but also a friend and father that I can depend on any time.)

    She paid homage to EricSon and thanked the Philippine government, retired Foreign Service Officer (FSO) Rafael E. Seguis and Attachè Saifoden “Ding” Manalao, for following up the case.

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