Wednesday, March 14, 2018

DURING their visit to the home of slain overseas domestic worker Joanna Demafelis for her wake on Feb. 24, 2018 the representatives of the Philippine Association of Agencies Accredited to Kuwait noticed an old billboard of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) located on the roadside just outside the rickety bamboo fence of the Demafelis house.

The DSWD KALAHI-CIDSS project was for a farm-to-market road connecting the rice farms of Sitio Antiqueño and Sito Bubog of Barangay Ferraris of the town of Sara, Iloilo to the national road. The project cost was about P486,000 and the project was done in September to October 2015.

The association felt there may be other priority needs which the DSWD and other government agencies can address in the Demafelis’ poor neighborhood and town. The Demafelis home has a water pump tapping groundwater. Water safety and sanitation can be looked into.

Solar-powered street lights would be needed for the safety and security of Demafelis’ economically-challenged community. A Negosyo Center and shared service facility for rice farmers and livestock growers in Sara are what the Department of Trade and Industry could build and implement there.

Sara, Iloilo is a second-class municipality with a population of about 53 thousand according to the 2015 Census of the Philippine Statistics Authority. Sara is about 97 kilometers from Iloilo City. It is part of the 5th congressional district. The town has one district hospital with a 50-bed capacity. The provincial health office says undernutrition in Sara, Iloilo affects 8,196 residents.

Come to think of it. Most of our overseas Filipino workers come from destitute communities. Lack of employment and economic opportunities in the country drive them to seek greener pastures elsewhere – braving or ignoring many difficult challenges like separation from families, loneliness, cultural prejudices, harsh working conditions and employers, among others.

If we cannot address the root causes of labor migration, our country will never see the end of Filipinos going abroad to find work. And sadly, we would continue having more Joanna Demafelises to grieve.


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