Author: 
Bien Custodio, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Sun, 2006-11-19 03:00

RIYADH, 19 November 2006 — Connie Lahoy-Lahoy, an ailing maid who had sought shelter among friends in Riyadh, has been finally reunited with her relatives in the Philippines, thanks to community groups and individuals who helped her.

Lahoy-Lahoy took a flight to Manila on Friday night and proceeded to the southern region of Davao, where she comes from.

Arab News learned that the woman ran away from her employer a year ago, stayed with some friends, and was able to work in a parlor for a while until she got ill.

In September, she tried her luck to seek treatment at a government-run hospital but was not admitted because she did not have an iqama.

Fortunately, Lahoy-Lahoy’s plight caught the attention of JUAN, a group formed to “empower” OFWs by providing advice on Saudi labor and workmen law and inform them of their rights as migrant workers.

A JUAN representative, who asked not to be named, said he came to know of the case of Lahoy-Lahoy through a text message sent to the OFW SOS hotline, an SMS (text)-based information system, which provides an on-line connection for overseas Filipinos. By sending a text message to pre-designated Philippine mobile numbers, a distressed OFW could get help.

The JUAN representative relayed the information to another group called Dabaw, which then looked for Lahoy-Lahoy and have her transferred, with the help of Attaché Tom Lauzon, to the Bahay Kalinga (BK) on Oct. 17. BK is temporary shelter in Riyadh for runaway Filipino female workers. It is maintained by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).

Lahoy-Lahoy’s plane ticket was purchased by the POLO from money taken from the two-million-peso donation of Sen. Panfilo Lacson for the repatriation of distressed OFWs. The amount was released by Tulong at Pag-Asa sa OFW Incorporated (TUPA), an organization tasked to administer the disbursement donation.

Dabaw President Francisco Sigaya Jr. said TUPA President Rene Zulueta confirmed the release of the amount.

Sigaya’s group also raised funds for Lahoy-Lahoy to bring home because she was penniless.

“Connie needs urgent medical attention,” Sigaya said. “She needs vitamins, particularly iron, and Ferosac for a twice a week medication.”

The JUAN representative also said Lahoy-Lahoy “needs all the necessary assistance because she is very sick since her hemoglobin was down to level 6, and she has no money to buy the medicines.”

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