What It Takes to Move Abroad: An Overseas Filipino Worker Story

What It Takes to Move Abroad: Richelle's Story

Going abroad from the Philippines is no longer rare in a country with 2.2 million overseas workers. You almost certainly have at least one friend whose family or parent works or lives in another country and collects balikbayan boxes once or several times a year. Working abroad and sending money home to support their families is a real Filipino tradition.

Moving from country to country to provide child care is how Richelle Floreno was able to support the education of her younger siblings as well as the medical expenses of her parents - all living in the Philippines. She first started working overseas in the United Arab Emirates where she took care of five kids. Eventually, she moved to Hong Kong and worked there to help raise 2 kids for 5 years. She then found her way to Canada through the “Live-in Caregiver Program” as she was told by a friend that an employer is looking for a caregiver. In May 2018, she finally landed in Canada.

Among all the challenges faced by someone who moved abroad, homesickness seemed to be the most usual. She shared that as a live-in caregiver, you sometimes need to work even if you’re not feeling so well. It truly makes you long for the care of your family back home. As the family’s breadwinner, Richelle really had to toughen up for her family.

“I needed to be more responsible, more matured, and emotionally strong,” she said. Part of the sacrifice of being an overseas worker is learning to differentiate between needs and wants. One of the secrets to becoming financially wise and making sure all your hard work does not go to waste. While working abroad seems to be daunting, her happiness comes from knowing that she is able to help and support her family back home whenever she sends money to the Philippines.

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