KUWAIT – A former household service worker is now an owner of a big salon in Kuwait.
Farida Al-Halimi experienced all the hardships in life. But she said this should not be a hindrance to claiming one's success.
Al-Halimi is a native from Cagayan province. She is separated from her husband and they have two children.
In 1989, she worked as a household service worker in Bahrain. In 1991, she moved to Kuwait but later escaped her abusive employer.
She was jailed and sent back to her agency until she found an employer who owned a salon.
"Hirap na hirap at ayaw kong maranasan uli ang kahirapan noon maliit pa. Kaya nagpursige akong magtrabaho at insip ko ang aking mga anak. Ayaw kong maranasan nila ang hirap noong bata pa ako," she said.
In a span of eight years, Al-Halimi was able to establish her very own salon.
"She's wonderful. She's an all-rounder for hair, for make-up, for beauty," said a longtime customer, Shebina Amlani.
Even her employees are proud of her achievement.
"She's good. But for work, she's very strict. She wants the best for everyone," said employee Sultana Shaikh.
But Al-Halimi is not keeping all her success to herself.
"Tuwing ako ay nakakakita ng mga maralita na bata at walang-wala talaga, naaala ko kung paano rin ako naghirap noong ako ay bata pa at ganun din sa aking ama, na wala ako oras sa kanya at hindi ako nag stay sa kanya sa kanyang paghihirap, kaya naisipan kong magsilbi sa aking mga kababayan lalo na sa mga may edad at sa mga bata," she said.
Together with the group Kuwait Filipino Mothers Organization or KFMO, they offer free haircuts and other pampering services to cancer patients at the Sidra Center of the Kuwait Cancer Control Center.
"I have a lady who just recently had a mastectomy. Last week, she met Farida. Farida cut her hair and it looked beautiful and she was so happy. That lady went home very happy," said Karen Webster, Information Officer at Al Sidra Association.
Al-Halimi is also sharing her talent by teaching cosmetology to distressed Filipino wards.
"Shini-share niya ang talent niya sa amin para maipagpatuloy naming ang aming buhay pagdating sa Pilipinas," said one of the wards, Marife Camacam.
Welfare Officer Norlita Lugtu expressed her gratitude to the KFMO for their help.
"On behalf our labor attache po, thank you so much sa Kuwait Filipino Mothers Organization for sharing their time, resources and their skills," said Lugtu.
Help doesn't stop there for Al-Halimi as she is also sending some children to school in the Philippines.
"Kung wala kang sipag, di ka magkakaroon ng ganitong sitwasyon na business at kung paano kang makitungo sa mga tao, sa mga customers. Pangalawa sa mga trabahador mo, kailangan mong makisama sa kanila at magsilbing inspirasyon. At isa pa, kailangan mo talagang manalig sa Diyos at magpasalamat sa anumang blessing," said Al-Halimi.