‘Inshallah, I will be home soon’ : Honoring OFW Mothers in Saudi Arabia

Being a mother is the hardest job in the world. One must ensure the wellbeing of their children and do everything to provide them a life of comfort even if it takes going 5,038 miles away to give them a better life. 

As a child of a mother who is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), it’s never been easy for me growing up. My mother has been a Medical Technologist in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 15 years now.

Growing up, there was the feeling of being incomplete and of envy towards other children who get to spend with their mom everyday.

The author Bernard Victorio and her mom Jaylynn Marayag

I remember when I joined a speech choir contest when I was in sixth grade. I was overthinking and nervous about how it could go wrong until I saw that my teammates’ mothers were there, patting their backs, applying baby powder on them, wishing them good luck, while I watched them and prepared myself for the contest. It’s like all the feelings I felt that day went completely gone except loneliness. 

I didn’t take the time to fully understand why my mom has had to leave and work abroad when she could spend time with us, so I made the situation about me without thinking that it’s also hard for my mom to be away from her children. 

For sure no mother wants to be away from her children, but for many the choice wasn’t really there to begin with. Now that we’re still reeling through the effect of this pandemic it’s even harder for OFW mothers to cope with the circumstances.

Frontliners in Saudi Arabia

It was in 2019 when I last saw my mom. Ever since the pandemic started, it hasn’t been easy for her either. We would often hear from her that she’s always alone in a hotel, and we cannot avoid being worried that she might get infected by the virus because she is a frontliner. 

For her co-worker Rowi Pacamarra, a staff nurse for three years now and mother of two, “Not being able to be physically present with my family during this crisis would probably be the most difficult aspect as an OFW.” 

Rowi Pacamarra and her children. Rowi has been a nurse in Saudi Arabia for three years now.

For Eva Marie Calina, a mother of two and nurse in Saudi Arabia for 12 years now, “As an OFW, it’s been harder since this pandemic began, even when we have the urge to go back to our homeland, yet we don’t have any choice but to stay here longer.” 

Eva Maria Calina has been serving in the Kingdom as a nurse for more than a decade now.

“The word ‘mother’ itself is already the hardest job, how much more in being a mother and an OFW as well? With or without this pandemic we always crave attention from our loved ones and families. As a mother we always wanted to be with our children because guiding and nurturing them is our obligation,” Eva said. 

Allyn Grace Sanchez spent eight years in the Kingdom and has since moved to Europe in search for greener pastures.

My mom’s former colleague in Saudia Arabia for eight years, Allyn Grace Sanchez, is now in Europe but still the pangs of the pandemic. She said many employees are being dismissed by companies there, while some cannot work in full hours anymore, brought about by the lockdowns and shorter store operating hours.

“The hardest part for me as a mother of two children and an OFW is to be away from my family because you can’t take care of them and guide them well even if you have the internet, but it’s not enough, it’s not enough for me to be with,” Allyn says.

Spending Mother’s Day as an OFW

In most families, Mother’s day is a time for them to celebrate, give cards and gifts, but for OFW mothers, it’s just another day of work to look forward to, away from their families. For them, being able to talk to their kids is the best Mother’s day gift there is. 

In our family, we usually spend Mother’s day with a simple phone call and continue the day like nothing is being celebrated.

But as we look at it from a different point of view, the real essence of Mother’s Day is not how grand the foods are, or who has received the nicest cards and gifts. It is the gesture of letting them know that we love them, we appreciate them, and that we give recognition for all the sacrifices they’ve done for us. 

For my mother, you may not be able to attend all my school events, but I will always be grateful for your sacrifices. 

No exact amount of distance will ever dictate how far you will go through just to provide for us, and I appreciate you for that. 

I am sorry if I wasn’t able to respond to all your messages on time, or not answer your calls, but I would want you to know that I miss you and no day has passed that I ever dreamt of the day that I’ll wait for you in the airport, and give you the tightest hugs, carry your luggages, and tell you, “Welcome home, Ma.”

One of the recent photos of the author Bernard with his mom who’s been working as a medical technologist in Saudia Arabia for 15 years now.

To all OFW Mothers out there, we miss you, and we love you. Happy Mother’s Day.

About the Author

Bernard Joel Victorio is a Marketing sophomore in the Adamson University and currently an editorial intern of SubSelfie.com.

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