OWWA Program brings positive impact among OFWs ( Overseas Filipino Workers ) who are also a member of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
I am pretty sure that thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers can relate to my story, especially those whose employment was put under a retrenchment program. A lot of us are indeed adversely affected by this pandemic. In fact, the moment our area was placed in lockdown early April 2020, I was already in panic mode as I cannot stop myself from thinking about my wife and children in the Philippines. Weeks have passed and I still got compensated until our Australian boss called up to inform me that I was among the fifteen (15) employees that the company has been compelled to lay off due to the pandemic.
Going Back Home With Uncertainties – Thanks to OWWA Porgrams
Hearing such bad news from my boss was not a big surprise to me actually as I already anticipated its happening. However, this came too soon so much so that I cannot think of words to explain to my wife and children that in two week’s time, I will be with them in the Philippines but this time, it would be for good. A week after, I found myself out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport along with not only my baggage but also with doubts of what the future holds for me.
I returned to my hometown at the time the whole province was under the strict implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). However, my savings from working abroad for three years dried up considering the continuous escalation of prices of even basic commodities.
Well, I have no one to blame as all of us really strive to survive in this pandemic. Despite this, I am still thankful for my family, relatives, and friends whom I can always depend on when the necessity arises.
It was a sunny Saturday morning when my high school classmate, Efren, happened to pass on our street just when I was done fixing some fences in our backyard. To be honest, I was a little bit hesitant to narrate what happened with my employment abroad yet little did I know that what was just a chit-chat would open up a new opportunity for me to venture out.
Efren was also an OFW for six years until he chose to stay in the country for good as there was no one to look after his old parents. However, unlike other OFWs, he managed to put up a small eatery located near his house through availing the OWWA Program. At present, he is working on the expansion of his bungalow house as his gift to himself for his unwavering hard work in his business.
The OWWA Program referred to by Efren is the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program, a livelihood assistance package which is a one-time money assistance to OFWs not more than PHP 20,000 as start-up capital. I was surprised upon hearing that I could also avail of this program through submitting the following requirements:
- Application Form with a manifestation that the cash assistance to be given will be used solely for self-employment or livelihood business;
2. Certificate of Entrepreneurial Development Training;
3. Business Plan approved by the OWWA Regional Welfare Office Director
3. Passport, travel documents, or even airline ticket as proof of repatriation to the Philippines.
As of this writing, I am just waiting for the release of the check issued by the Regional Welfare Office of Region III . I already told Efren that I applied and was qualified for the OWWA Program. In fact, I am looking forward to our meet-up this month to discuss some matters relevant to my start-up business.