Davao City — “It’s better safe in the our country than to always live in fear abroad.”DOLE Davao Regional Director Joffrey M. Suyao hands to Fatima R. Idao the P10-K livelihood assistance of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs. Also in photo is Rea B. Sa-an the NRCO Regional focal in Davao.

This was how Fatima Rabane-Idao described her feelings while working without proper document in Malaysia as household service worker  years ago.

“Even with meager income, I am happy living with my family and without fear since I don’t violate any laws,” Fatima said.

Her hopes were recently sparked when she received the P10-thousand livelihood assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) – National Reintegration Center for OFW (NRCO) which she intends to put up as additional capitalization for her home-based eatery which features Malaysian fare.

Forty-seven year old and a mother of 3 Fatima is no neophyte in working abroad that’s why she knew how dangerous it was to go abroad without proper documents.

For 10 years, starting in 1990 she had worked in the Middle East countries spending over 4 years in Doha, Qatar with proper documents. Her year and half stint in Dubai were lived in hiding after she ran away from her employers. In August of 2012, she was persuaded by a friend to come to Malaysia and work for a month. With lack of income source, she went to the country with only a visit visa, passport and round trip plane ticket. After 8 months of struggling and keeping away from the sight of authorities, she decided to quit and come home to the Philippines for good.

Her Malaysian employers were good to her giving her about R1,300 Ringgits (about P15,000.00) which she used to start her small vending store for smoked fish and fresh vegetables and some viands.

“I’d rather have this small income than to risk my life in Malaysia with no assurance. I was afraid to be captured and imprisoned,” Fatima said, adding “it’s difficult to make both ends meet but at least I’m home with my family.”

“With this assistance from DOLE-NRCO, I have high hopes my business could expand. My Malaysian cuisines are very popular on our Muslim village, I will ensure it will grow with the help of my family.” Fatima said.

Fatima said she learned about the DOLE-NRCO program after she attended the advocacy activities of the regional focal Rea B. Sa-an at the Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Action. All of the 44 participants in the activity were interested but only 14 of them qualified.

The National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) is the youngest bureau under the Department of Labor and Employment. It acts as the Philippine government’s Reintegration Manager, addressing the multifaceted needs of our modern heroes and their families to a more productive return to the Philippines.

DOLE-NRCO aims to enable OFWs and their families to work and live with entrepreneurial mindset, primarily through the creation of awareness on the value of saving, and empowering them to plan for investment, business, or local employment upon their return, while responding to the reintegration needs of displaced OFWs and OFWs in distressful situations. (Sherwin B. Manual/DOLE Davao)