JAMAICA, NY – The Pradel family is a great example of what family reunification looks like.
For nearly five years, Dema Ramos-Pradel , a victim of human trafficking, has been away from her husband and kids to provide them a better life in the Philippines.
Ramos-Pradel received a T-Visa after proving that she was a trafficking victim in 2013. She was then able to file an immigration petition to bring her family to the US.
The Pradel family was reunited in New York on Tuesday.
"Masayang-masaya ako dahil yung pamilya ko nakarating ng maayos nang walang sagabal na dumating dito sa amin sa America kaya ngayon kami ay sama-sama kahit may naiwanan pa akong tatlong anak doon na may asawa na," said Ramos-Pradel.
Her husband, Zaldy, said: "Makita ko siya, di ko maiwasang pumatak ang luha. Matagal ko na siyang hindi nakikita. Talaga nga namang nag-iisa lang mahal ko sa buhay."
In 2009, a Kuwaiti diplomat trafficked Ramos-Pradel to the US. The Mauban, Quezon native said she worked as a cook, housekeeper, nanny for five kids, and washed clothes for the diplomat’s whole family.
For six months, she served her employer 20 hours a day for seven days a week, but the diplomat at the Kuwaiti Mission to the United Nations paid her only 69 cents an hour, with no overtime pay and no days off.
The 53-year-old Ramos-Pradel escaped her abusive employer in 2012 through the help of Damayan Migrant Workers Association, an organization of mostly Filipino domestic workers helping other workers like her.
Damayan also plays a big role in reuniting Filipino families especially those who are victims of human and labor trafficking.
“Kaya nga nagpunta yung mga kababaihan natin, mga kababayan natin dito sa America para magtrabaho maibigay doon sa mga pamilya nila at di kasama sa equation na yun na forever magkakahiwalay," said Linda Oalican of Damayan.
Damayan officials said their assistance does not stop when families are reunited. It only means there is more work to be done, especially with the family’s integration process – from teaching them how to navigate their way around their new home, to finding which schools to send their kids to and how to find jobs.
"Parang slowly transitioning them to their new lives as immigrants in the US," said Damayan’s Ria Ortiz
For Zaldy, this is the family's second chance "para patunayan namin na talagang buong-buo ang pamilya sa darating na mga araw at sa darating pang panahon".