This morning at our radio show, a 71-year old man showed up. His name was Anacleto and he worked as an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia for 20 years.
Anacleto’s problem was that his children are all grown up, busy with their own kids, while he, a widower, had nothing much to do, nowhere else to go. He wanted to go back to an OFW’s life. Or put up a small business of his own, citing 20 years as an OWWA member as collateral. In short, he wanted to be productive and useful again.
I visited the website of OWWA and the Department of Labor and Employment in search of programs that could harness the idle time and endless dreams of former OFWs. No such programs involving former OFWs particularly the elderly were specified.
This may be a gap that is worthwhile filling. Certainly, former OFWs who have invested years if not decades of their lives abroad can and should be able to contribute time, know-how, and experience to the unending work of nation-building. To be productive even at the twilight of one’s years is a gift and blessing.
In Mang Anacleto’s case, his modest dream is to be able to put up a small eatery. I felt sad hearing this because his dream could actually be fulfilled by his own children. Surely, his kids could chip in a small amount just to enable their father who toiled 20 years to pay for their education, put up a small business.
He said that he has one daughter who just left recently to work as a housemaid in Kuwait. He is banking on her to send money home. Overseas employment has become a cycle in itself – working abroad while strong, going home much older, then saying goodbye to the next batch of younger kin set to try their luck as overseas workers.
Good luck, Mang Anacleto. In the twilight of your years, may you find what it is that you are looking for.