Every OFW has a story. These are either stories of success or failures. But in the process of earning those stories, many challenges and sacrifices had to be faced, endured, and overcome.
In this article, we share some of the common challenges and sacrifices faced by domestic helpers and OFWs in general and some helpful tips on how to overcome them.
Disclaimer: The information published is based on the experience shared by the vlogger/YouTuber. The information provided may change without prior notice and may differ in actual scenarios. Let this article serve as a guide only.
Here is the video guide shared by a Filipina domestic helper in Hong Kong, Jean, a.k.a. Pinay Nanny Vlogger in Hong Kong on YouTube. If you find her tips helpful, you may check out her YouTube channel to catch more interesting content about her work and life as an OFW in Hong Kong.
Common Issues Every OFW Should Expect to Experience Abroad and How to Overcome Them
We all know that every type of work comes with some sort of sacrifice and challenges. But as an OFW, these challenges can become too overwhelming to handle because most of the time, you have to deal with them on your own, especially if you’re a first-time OFW here in Hong Kong.
The good news is many of these challenges are considered normal in the life of an OFW and there are ways you can overcome them according to our resource vlogger, Jean. Here are some of the challenges you will encounter as an OFW in general:
#1 Dealing with Homesickness.
No OFW is immune to the effects of homesickness. This is normal throughout your stay overseas and even long-time OFWs also deal with these intense feelings of wanting to go back home. But, this should not cause you to quit or to give up too early.
There are many ways you can divert your attention away from these extreme feelings of missing home. For one, you can focus on learning a new hobby or improving your skills. You can sign up for an online course and study during your days off or on the weekend. You can also join your local community groups in church or within the Filipino community in your area.
#2 Missing your family back home.
When you miss your family back home, you can easily reach out to them through the use of technology nowadays. You can easily reach your loved ones through social media or jump in a video call using apps such as Facebook Messenger, Viber, and/or Whatsapp.
And then there’s also the e-mail and if you’d like to call them on your mobile phone, you can easily reach out to them if you’re connected to the internet or with just a few credits on your line.
There are actually several ways you can connect with your family in the Philippines, but the real struggle would be finding time to do so. This is where setting routines and communicating with your loved ones come in. Even before you work abroad, if you are married and/or with kids, you have to set their expectations on how you will keep in touch with them. Set a time for your husband and then for your kids. If you can manage to give them separate schedules then that would be better so you can talk to them more intimately and personally.
#3 Dealing with Stress and Workload.
Every job comes with stress. But for OFWs, this becomes more challenging because they might not have enough outlets to vent out their emotions and thoughts because most of the time, they are all by themselves and just doing work as much as they can to earn a living.
The difficult thing is when your stress becomes too much to handle and then you are given more work. This can potentially affect your physical and mental health. But again, Jean reminds us that when you get stressed, just take a breath and reflect on your purpose. Think about your goals in life. This could help you find the strength and the determination to power through your situation and overcome the challenges of stress at work.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt to take some time off and to take care of yourself once in a while. Remember, your greatest asset as an OFW is your physical, mental, and emotional health so be sure to take care of these things as regularly as you can. A little self-discipline can go a long way.
#4 Dealing with Stubborn Kids and Demanding/Strict Employers
This is one of the challenges domestic helpers face here in Hong Kong and in other parts of the world. As you know some kids can be very naughty and they all have different kinds of personalities. Disciplining them would be part of your role as a nanny but you should not go overboard as to hitting them or physically hurting them because this could cause you major problems at work. For this task, you need to have lots of patience and firmness so that they will respect you and recognize your authority especially when their parents are not at home.
On the other hand, some domestic helpers also find it difficult to deal with a strict or demanding employer. Again, patience is key. As Jean has put it, don’t take everything they say or do personally. You just have to focus on your job. If you are able to do your job well, then your employer would so the kind of work you can do and will eventually begin to trust you and let you work independently around the house. Just be proactive and know what you need to do without them telling you.
#5 Dealing with Temptations (Relationships, Money, Material Things)
Aside from the above challenges we mentioned, many OFWs also struggle in dealing with temptations. Living alone abroad exposes you to many temptations like getting involved in forbidden relationships and falling into the trap of addiction. Others even commit petty crimes like stealing money and jewelry from their employers.
If you are not careful enough in dealing with these things, then you might get into trouble which could ultimately end your career abroad, and worse, even destroy your relationships back home.
#6 Financial Management
Not many OFWs have a background on financial literacy which is why the Philippine government is incorporating this important aspect of financial management in the training OFWs need to undergo.
As you can imagine, many foreign domestic helpers from the Philippines come from poor families and so when they get the chance to earn a significant amount of money, they can easily be swayed to spending it away on things that are not important in achieving their goals.
If you’re a first-time OFW, try to learn more about financial literacy and how you can better manage your finances. You can read more about top investments for OFWs and how to open a savings account in the bank so you can better manage your earnings.
#7 Maintaining Long Distance Relationships
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But does this still hold true for prolonged absences, say, 5 to 10 years? Probably not, especially when you have young kids back at home. There are many stories of mothers leaving their children at an early age in pursuit of better opportunities or a career abroad, and most of these stories do not end so well as they create more problems than solutions to poverty alone.
With that said, it’s important for OFWs to make time for their families. If making daily or weekly calls is possible, do it. And if you can afford to come home and spend time with your loved ones as regularly as you can, then by all means commit to it. There’s nothing more regretful than time spent on things like work or a career at the expense of your family’s love and affection.
Many OFWs have been there, and hopefully, you wouldn’t. It all starts with a decision to make time for your loved ones even if you are physically apart. There are more ways than one on how you can express your love and affection for your family even if you’re miles apart. It just takes a little creativity and effective communication.
And there you have it! We hope you got more insight regarding the challenges of first-time domestic helpers and OFWs abroad. Are there other challenges and tips you want to add to the list we’ve shared? Let us know by leaving a comment in the section below!