“I am Merlyn, from Mindanao. When I was 15 years old, I was forced to seek employment after my parents died. I said I was 18 years old and boarded a ship with a recruiter to the big city of Manila. The agency assigned me to work for a family and I worked almost 24/7 without a day-off. After 3 months, I did not receive any salary, so I resigned. My employer filed a complaint against me for qualified theft. She accused me of stealing. I was put in a detention cell for 3 days. With the help of a Christian lawyer, I won my case against my employer on unfair labor practices and received compensation.
My story is that of many young girls who come from rural areas, and the ones that leave our country as overseas workers. Forced by economic circumstances, we migrate to the urban centers and abroad. We are often abused, and experience economic injustice…”
This excerpt was taken from the World Day of Prayer 2017 worship service program written by the WDP Philippines committee. Given the theme “Am I Being Unfair to You?” based on the bible story Matthew 20:1-16, the committee decided to focus on the unjust labor practices in their country and bring awareness to the struggles the women, men, and sometimes children, face. The men face high unemployment rates and the women are overworked, underpaid, and taken advantage of.
Due to increasing costs of living, many men and women decide to work abroad in order to find better paying jobs. This often impacts the family negatively. Families break up and children begin to do poorly in school. The country has passed laws to protect workers but implementation is lacking.
With the support and offering received from the World Day of Prayer, the WDP Philippines committee took its first steps in tackling these issues. They supported two Mangyan (indigenous people) lay missionary empowerment projects. The first entails Bible study sessions for the women participating. They are mentored by women leaders to attend conferences, WDP events, seminars, and training sessions. The second project involved teaching the Mangyans of Mindoro, to weave baskets and trays so they can promote their culture and simultaneously make a living. Their products were marketed at conferences and community events to support their progress.
Through the WDP service the question presented is - What can be done to create a better world? Every day, women and men in the Philippines bear the responsibilities of providing for their families in the face of unfair labor practices. Through these offerings the WDP Philippines committee was able to make a small change in the lives of some.
“We will not lose hope. We will continue to be resourceful and mentor our children until even just a glimmer of light shines through to guide us.” – Prima Formilleza, WDP Philippines Chairperson
- Based on reports received from WDP Philippines