For generations, the social value of remittances has been synonymous to providing care for those Filipinos left behind. A recent report showed that remittances sent to the Philippines grew in 2022, largely because of migrant workers’ desire and motivation to help their families back home.
Behind every migrant worker is a unique story of love and sacrifice. In an effort to better understand their experiences, WorldRemit interviewed a group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from different backgrounds and cultures to hear more about their reasons for continuing to support friends and loved ones.
“Through our customers’ stories, we gain valuable insight on the challenges OFWs face while working abroad, the true impact of their remittances, and how they stay connected with their families and community,” said Earl Melivo, Interim APAC Managing Director.
Common challenges faced by OFWs
For one, homesickness is very common among OFWs. Mary Belle, a domestic helper of 14 years now based in Singapore, knows this feeling well. Having only been able to visit home once during her employment, she makes up for her physical absence by talking with family three times a week and sending money home for special occasions like birthdays or graduations.
Adjusting to a foreign country is another common challenge for OFWs, all over the world. Lanz, an operations manager based in Indonesia since 2017; and Daniel, an engineer who has worked in multiple countries for the past 23 years; both echoed this sentiment.
“Being away from family and friends is a challenge [too], so I try to cope by making new friends,” Lanz said.
The COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted the lives of many OFWs as well. As of 2022, 2.24 million OFWs have been repatriated after being displaced from work. Those who were able to keep their jobs were hit by inflation. Lanz wasn’t able to visit home as often during the pandemic because of costlier travel. It’s also caused a steep rise in rent in Los Angeles, where Daniel lives.
Family and community-wide support from overseas
Despite many challenges, OFWs continue to strive for a better life for themselves and the people around them. When it comes to supporting their loved ones, OFWs recognize how education vastly improves the whole family’s quality of life.
A 2017 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development cited how migration “can lead to greater investment in education.” As a testament, Flor has helped all her nieces and nephews graduate after working as a flower shop owner in Germany for 36 years. Mary Belle and Daniel have done the same for their siblings and their children.
But remittances go beyond benefitting OFWs’ families—they elevate communities as well. Recently, the government has invited more OFWs to invest in local businesses to help stimulate economic growth and create more favorable conditions should they wish to return home.
Overall, remittances, along with regular communication, visits, and their reassuring support, are just among the many ways OFWs can express their love despite the distance. Like them, WorldRemit provides fast and reliable digital transfer services which aim to bridge transnational borders.
“WorldRemit believes in the power of remittances, not just to improve lives but also to strengthen the bonds among people, effectively acting as a currency of care among OFWs. With WorldRemit, OFWs can trust their love and hard work can reach those they’re intended for,” Melivo said.
Read more inspiring stories from migrant workers around the world. Get to know them better through the WorldRemit community at https://www.worldremit.com/en/blog/community/.