Being an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) is a great way to provide for your family back home. Unfortunately, it also means being away from them for months and sometimes even years at a time. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. But how do these OFWs cope with such adversity? Read on for more information.
The Statistics Behind Isolation Amongst OFWs
According to a 2019 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), 44 million OFWs have been sent abroad since 1995. Unfortunately, many of these workers experience loneliness due to the lack of social support systems in their host countries. A 2017 survey found that 60% of respondents felt lonely at least once during their stay overseas, while 24% experienced loneliness more often than not.
In addition to feeling lonely, many OFWs face other issues such as financial hardship, discrimination from employers and locals, and difficulty adapting to different cultures. For example, a 2018 report by the Philippine Commission on Women found that one-third of OFWs had experienced racism or discrimination in their host countries – with 84% saying they had received unfair treatment from employers or locals due to their nationality.
The Impact of Isolation on Mental Health
Being away from family members can be incredibly difficult for OFWs, who may find themselves struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety due to prolonged isolation. This can lead to serious physical ailments such as hypertension and diabetes, which are common in people suffering from prolonged stress and depression. In addition, this kind of isolation has been linked with increased risk factors for suicide among OFWs; and higher rates of substance abuse and addiction.
Filipinos cope with loneliness in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common ones:
Another way OFWs can fight off loneliness is by keeping busy while abroad. Finding activities that keep your mind occupied and give you a sense of purpose while away from home is essential. Examples include learning a new language, exploring your host country, picking up hobbies such as painting or gardening, or even volunteering in the local community.
This may also include shopping for items, gifts, or souvenirs you can send home to your children. Sending a balikbayan box is a norm for many OFWs and can be a great way to reconnect with family members. If this is you, you can look for an affordable balikbayan box price online to make the most of your budget.
One of the most effective ways to combat loneliness is by connecting with others in the same situation. Many OFWs enjoy getting together with other ex-pats and forming their own informal communities. These groups often meet regularly to share stories, experiences, and advice on living abroad. They also provide an invaluable support network when homesickness strikes.
Meeting new friends from the local community is another way to ward off loneliness. Taking a class, joining a club, or attending other social functions can be great ways to meet people who share similar values and interests.
It’s also important for OFWs to maintain relationships back home with family and friends as well. It can be difficult to stay in touch over long distances; however, many tools are available to help make it easier. For example, video conferencing apps like Skype or Facetime have made it much simpler for OFWs to stay connected with loved ones back home in real-time.
Attending gatherings hosted by organizations aimed at helping Filipinos abroad can be extremely beneficial for fighting loneliness. Organizations like Migrante International or Kabalikat ng mga OFW are dedicated to helping Filipinos adjust to life abroad by providing information about their rights and offering assistance if needed.
They often hold events where fellow Filipinos can come together and connect over food, music, and culture-allowing them a chance to experience the comforts of home even though they may be thousands of miles away from it!
Being an overseas Filipino worker requires courage and strength-especially when dealing with the feelings of homesickness that come along with being so far away from friends and family back home! But there are ways to cope with the loneliness, from attending gatherings and making new friends in your host country to staying busy and keeping connected with loved ones back home. With some effort and dedication, OFWs can make the most of their time abroad!