Ex-Saudi OFW Now Bakery Owner, Thanks to OWWA’s Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program
Mr. Fernando Castro, a beneficiary of the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program visited the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Regional Welfare Office – National Capital Region (OWWA RWO – NCR) to show with pride his new business and express his gratitude to OWWA for the opportunity to engage in a small business last 22 December 2017.
Formerly an OFW who worked in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Castro was one of many workers who were sent home because his company is one of the companies that suffered financial losses severely due to prevailing economic condition in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The closing of his company left him without his daily earnings for many months. He was also among those OFWs who sought assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and OWWA for settlement of their unpaid salaries. Since he could no longer wait for the settlement of his unpaid wages and other benefits, he decided to be repatriated to the Philippines.
Upon return to the country, Mr. Castro availed of the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay!. It is a program aimed at providing OWWA members, active or non-active, financial assistance as immediate relief to returning OFWs who were displaced due to war, political conflicts, policy reform controls, or changes by the host government. Victims of illegal recruitment, human trafficking, and other distressful situations are also given assistance under the program.
In October 2017, the program was improved by increasing the amount of financial assistance from P10,000 to P20,000 to ensure that the cash assistance is sufficient as a start-up capital for livelihood projects of beneficiaries. It also gives them the responsibility to use the cash assistance in purchasing the required goods, equipment and other implements for the type of business they would like to engage in.
OFW Castro was able to put up his bakery with commitment and dedication to ensure its success. He said that “because of the 20K financial assistance from OWWA, I was able to buy baking supplies/implements and materials to start my own business.” He also thanked OWWA for the opportunity to start his small business. He said “Thank you OWWA for giving me the opportunity to start a small business for me and my family.” He added that “Although we are still starting from scratch, the cash assistance will surely help us to become successful in our business ventures.”
Isabella Balcon / OWWA NCR