The greatest fear of an OFW

SUARA FROM THE GULF

By Gamson Jr Mawallil Quijano

Being physically and distantly apart fom your beloved family and those who are dear to you is one of the saddest things in life. What more if this separation is not only temporary, but forever? Isn’t that excruciating?

One of the greatest fears of an OFW is to be forever separated from members of the family and loved ones by death. This is inevitable and everyone has to be ready because it could happen anytime.

However, isn’t it more excruciating when this happens when you are miles away and oceans apart from them as in the case of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)? You cannot immediately go home and be with your family during your bereavement.

“I was so devastated, depressed, and frustrated when my youngest brother from the Philippines informed me that our beloved father had died. I had no way to contain my emotions to the extent that in the wee hours of January 2, 2016, Saturday, I shouted in my room without thinking I could disturb my other housemates who were sleeping at that time,” narrated Binnazer Tulawie Samain, Tausug EMS OFW in Dubai, UAE.

“Had I the capacity or special power to fly to my hometown at that very moment just to catch and see my father for the last time, I would surely do it. I did the best I could to travel to the Philippines on the same day, hoping that I may be able to pay my last respects and bid my father farewell. Unfortunately, his remains were buried the same day following Islamic rites. I had nothing else to do but spend a couple of days in Manila waiting for my sister, who is also an OFW, to come from Saudi Arabia,” Binnazer added.

Similarly, when an OFW passes away in a foreign country, it is also extremely painful for the family and loved ones at home because they cannot see their departed loved ones for the last time, although there are remains of OFWs, especially for non-Muslims, that are shipped back to the country so the family at home can see and give their last respects before he or she is laid to rest. For us Muslims, our remains should be buried immediately. So all we can do is be patient and accept things gradually.

“Tausug OFWs who died in Qatar were buried here. Our OMMOW (Organization of Muslim Mindanao Overseas Workers) helps through proper coordination with the authorities to speed up the process of documents needed for burial. I have witnessed most of the funerals of my fellow Muslim OFWs who died here in Qatar. Their bereaved families and loved ones in the Philippines were only able to see the video of the funeral of their loved ones,” shares Shaykh Benhar A. Yusof, Tausug OFW and head of religious affairs of OMMOW, Doha, Qatar.

Shihanie A. Kadil, an OFW nurse in Makkah, KSA, took a short emergency leave in the Philippines when her father became ill. However, she had to go back to work in Makkah in the midst of her father’s condition. Three months later, her father passed away.

“I was at work, evening shift that day. While I was on break, I got a video call from them. I can see the pulse going from 30 beats a minute to zero, and oxygen saturation at 90-69-39-0. I was with my father virtually the moment he took his last breath. It’s heartbreaking, but I remained calm and comforted everyone at home, especially my mother,” Shihanie remembers.

Just like Binnazer and the rest of the OFWs, when the immediate member of their families pass away, the very first thing that comes to their minds is to go home.

Sadly, for some OFWs, it is difficult to go home in times like these or in times of family emergencies for so many reasons, among them, some of the employers doesn’t allow them to go, they don’t have enough money to pay for the round trip airplane ticket since they need to provide this personally, and many other procedures that need to be done.

“I intend to return home, even though I just got back from an emergency leave three months ago. However, due to COVID-19 related flight cancellations/restrictions, likewise, the health care workers were stopped from leaving the country due to threat of COVID-19, I didn’t make it,” Shihanie added.

I understand exactly how Shihanie felt when she said, “I was furious and I hated everything. I tried to laugh on the outside but felt shattered on the inside. I’m afraid to go home and see that my father is not with us anymore.”

“One of the painful realizations in life is that we are busy growing up, we often forget that our parents, our elders and loved ones are growing old, too. Hence, always make time while there’s still time, forgive a lot, and spread love as much as we can,” said Aldhakeel Amjad Tulawie, Tausug OFW in Qatar.

Never waste the short precious moments that you should have been spending with your family and loved ones just because of pride. Don’t delay showing your love, care, and compassion to anyone around you especially your family and loved ones.

Likewise, hastily reconcile when there are misunderstandings between and amongst you. At least, when one of you will inevitably be gone one day, you will depart with love and mercy in your hearts. Tomorrow is never a promise and regret is useless!

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