MANILA – A repatriated Filipina caregiver from strife-torn Damascus, Syria tapped the government's assistance in helping her start her life anew back home.
Nenita Bernardo was among the many overseas Filipino workers who availed of the repatriation program of the government.
Bernardo had worked as a caregiver in Damascus for over a decade. Her life became better at first, but the tension in the country in 2012 prompted her to leave the country.
"Nakakatakot kasi naririnig namin yung bomba at putukan. So maraming mga Pilipina na ang pumunta sa embassy, gusto nang umuwi," she recalled.
She arrived in Manila in April 2012 and became a beneficiary of the Reintegration Center for OFWs. She was given a "seed money" for a business startup.
"Kasama po sa programa po namin ay ang training para sila ay makapaghanda. Ito yung business management at financial awareness. Mayroon din kaming assistance para makapag-negosyo," said Violeta Muñoz, officer-in-charge of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs.
Bernardo's two-storey house in Pembo, Makati City was a fruit of her hard work in Syria. She thought of renting out the first floor and had used the money she received from the center to reconstruct her home. The first floor was leased out as a beauty parlor while another family is renting out the back portion of her house.
With the P5,000 monthly rental each from her tenants, Bernardo was able to immediately recover the seed money provided to her by the center.
"Gusto ko rin ipagawa itong third floor namin kasi sayang naman pwede rin itong ipaupa," she said.
She said many of her colleagues have returned to Damascus despite the danger. They said they would rather go abroad than see their family go hungry.
"Ang mapapayo ko lang yung kasama ko nasa Syria at Lebanon, sana mag-ingat sila. Kung uuwi sila ng Pilipinas, gayahin nila ako na may kabuhayan kahit konti," she said. Report from Jerome Fadriquela, ABS-CBN News