No one can underrate the importance of a family. It gives every member security and protection, endows love and care, and provides the foundation of values that mold the totality of each individual. They share the joy, the problems and responsibilities. Yes, every member can be a positive force to each other to lift one another and to create a dynamic that is fun, cordial and constructive.
For Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Overseas Filipinos (OFs), this is the kind of family that can take away the feeling of struggles and at times, desolation, that they experience working in foreign lands.
To be geographically distant from kids and partners and kins is doubtlessly a challenge that most OFWs and OFs have to grin and bear. Not to mention that some of them assume the full responsibility of financially providing for their families so they can have a better life.
To achieve a better life is a sure shot if every member of the family makes every effort to rack up this goal. Families of OFWs/OFs can certainly do something to help and support their OFW/OF relatives. How can you make their journey a little easier?
1. Help yourself and do your part. If you’re a spouse who is left in the Philippines, be productive as much as you can. If you don’t have a job, find one. If it is not possible because you have little kiddos to look after, explore some income opportunities that can be done at the confines of your own home. It doesn’t have to be a right off the bat big time enterprise, as long as you generate income yourself to help pay the bills and other expenses. If you are a brother or a sister or a child that an OFW/OF relative is sending to school, study hard. Focus on the role you play. Nail it down and make your OFW relative proud.
2. Communicate. It really helps out when communication does not revolve around I-need-money-send-me-money kind of conversations. The knowledge that family back home is in point of fact interested to constantly and consistently connect as a brother or a sister, as a husband or a wife, as a parent or a child can ease loneliness and weariness from being too far afield. Let your OFW/OF family know that they are loved and supported wherever they are.
3. Stay away from troubles. It’s hard enough to leave a family because of financial constraint. But it can be more painful to know that the family members an OFW/OF left behind screw up because of the absence of one of its pillars. It is not uncommon to hear stories of teenage pregnancies, drug addictions, broken marriages, school withdrawal, failed business ventures and other dispirited chronicles of the family that are usually blamed for the nonattendance of the OFW/OF relative. It doesn’t have to be this way. One cannot replay the story of another. So what should you do? Stick to your ultimate goal as a family: BETTER LIFE. Carry out healthy and positive actions to accomplish that objective. Know that working abroad is just temporary and can be shortened if you are all willing to help and support each other. Soon, mother or father, brother or sister is back to your doorstep and will never have to leave again.
4. Be Financially Wise. Forget about the new phone. Forget about the collection of signature bags or shoes. Forget about the lavish lifestyle. Forget about the status quo. You can revisit them (or the thought of them) when you can really and truly afford them. What you need right now is financial literacy. Know how to budget. Start saving. Be open to discuss where you allocate the remittances that you receive from your OFW/OF relatives. Don’t be offended when they ask. Think long term. Raise a family emergency fund. Commence a sound business venture but make sure you do your due diligence. Be a great financial planner. Resources and information are everywhere. This is not a hard core academic study. Just know your limits and acquire a super sterling self discipline. The attitude towards money will make a huge difference.
5. Learn the Facts. Break the Myths. For decades, millions of OFws/OFs went and came. Somehow, we can make heads or tails of their financial anecdotes. The fact is migrant workers may make money more than their local counterparts but that doesn’t make them any richer. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some who succeed especially those who decide to stay permanently in a foreign land and work hard and smart to go up the ladder or those who go back home and implement a sound and intelligent financial plan. Bust the myth. OFWs/OFs don’t become instantaneously rich once their plane takes off. Again, educate yourselves.
I strongly believe that families should work as a team to make every objective attainable. It is crucial that every member of the household, including the children, understands the reason why someone has to go abroad. It is also equally paramount that everyone has discernment of what they can positively contribute to help one another to carry out the end in view. Walk the tightrope with them. It is through this that sacrifices become worthy. Afterall, every dream, every wish and every hope of an OFW/OF is a better life for the family.