We have many friends but only a few, if any, that we could count on in times of need.
They exemplify what the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge said,” Friendship is a sheltering tree.”
Novie Ramos Peralta, 31-year-old former domestic helper (DH) in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, is lucky to have that kind of friendship.
She thought she had no one to turn to for help when Noura, the wife of her Kuwaiti employer Nayef Mohammad Alajni, was beating her up for reasons she did not know.
But two friends came to her rescue, Annie H. Fajardo, 41, and Catrina Dize, 29, former fellow household service workers (HSW) in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. The three were working for different employers who belonged to the same family. There were times when their respective employers would go on family outings with them.
Annie, Novie and Catrina enjoyed treading water in the swimming pool and considered it one of the greatest moments in their lives.
But Novie was not happy working for the mother of the employers of Catrina and Annie. When she decided to work overseas again this year, she chose Kuwait instead of Riyadh.
She was deployed by Insana International Placement Agency whose counterpart in Kuwait was Alnashama Alnasham for Recruitment of Domestic Manpower Est. Her employer was a Kuwaiti, Nayef Mohammad Alajni, a resident of the Omaeman area.
On June 2, her employer’s Saudi wife, Noura, vacationed in Jeddah bringing with her Peralta as her servant.
A week after arriving in Jeddah, Peralta felt homesick and requested an Internet connection so she could call her family in Tarlac. But her request was turned down, which led to a heated verbal exchange.
Noura consequently beat Peralta up, using a hard wood that left bruises in various parts of the DH’s body including her face, ears, hand and back.
She was able to tell Annie in Riyadh about her traumatic experience and asked to be rescued but when her cell phone was taken away, they could no longer communicate.
On August 19, Annie sent a text message to this writer to report the case and Peralta’s request for rescue. But there was no mention of Novie’s exact location.
The case was reported to former career foreign service officer Rafael E. Seguis who relayed the case to Consul Edgar Tomas Q. Auxilian.
The case was forwarded to the Migrant Workers Office (MWO), which coordinated it with its counterpart in Kuwait. Alnashama Alnasham contacted the employer but nothing happened regarding the case.
Then Catrina Dize also sent this writer a text message, joining Fajardo in requesting for help on behalf of Novie.
Dize and Fajardo said that Novie was already in Najran in southwestern Saudi Arabia, quoting an Ugandan informant who requested not to be involved in the case. She could not say, however, where in Najran Peralta was.
Information on the case was sent to the Department of Migrant Workers Undersecretary Hans Leo J. Cacdac who replied to Seguis,”Okey po, Sir. We’re working on her rescue and safe return.”
On Aug. 21, Fajardo sent a video showing bruises in different parts of Peralta’s body, which Seguis forwarded to the DMW Undersecretary who was also informed that Novie was back in Kuwait.
Cacdac ordered the Labor Attaché in Kuwait to rescue Peralta. The Labor Attaché informed Cacdac that, based on official information, Novie had returned to Kuwait.
The legal retainer of the MWO had also been told to secure a permit from the authorities for Peralta’s rescue. Apprehensive at the MWO’s move, the employer worked on Peralta’s repatriation. On Aug. 31, the employer’s wife brought Peralta to the airport where she boarded a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight.
Fajardo and Dize sent a message that Peralta was already with her family in Tarlac.
Peralta was assisted by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), as well as in her travel to Tarlac.