18 October 2019
Migrants from the Philippines are starting over in Jordan, with support from the local church.
(video: Nader Daoud)
The current edition of ONE features a look at migrants from the Philippines making a new home in Jordan, with the help and support of the Catholic Church. Journalist Dale Gavlak here offers some additional impressions of the people she met:
It seems that you almost can’t go anywhere in the western part of the Jordanian capital, Amman, without running into a guest worker from the Philippines.
They are everywhere. Although I’ve had the pleasure of knowing some who have worked for friends, I felt a whole new world open before me as I got to know two very special Filipina women with the Teresian Association who provide support and counsel to their many fellow country people navigating work and family challenges in Jordan.
Indeed, the Teresians are like “godmothers” to the Filipino community, says Ra’ed Bahou, CNEWA’s regional director in Amman.
I recall first meeting Elisa Estrada when she welcomed me at the front door of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church. Her lovely, warm, and engaging smile immediately put me at ease. I’m sure she has this same calming effect on everyone she meets. Afterwards, scores of us joined hands all across the aisles to say the Lord’s Prayer.
“For all the people in the church, you just hold their hand and I ask, ‘Jesus, put your hands in my hands. Whatever the person needs, provide that,’“ Elisa says.
At the end of the service, we enjoy a delicious communal lunch featuring Filipino specialties at the Pontifical Library Cultural Center, where I am introduced to many Filipinas working in Jordan. It’s also a festive celebration of the parish priest Father Gerald’s birthday, including song and heartfelt prayer and thanks.
“I have baked thousands of cakes to celebrate the gift of life because these domestic helpers are unable to bake their cakes in the households where they serve,” says Elisa of celebrations involving birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. “It’s the time that I can share the beauty of life. By using the illustration of the cake as well, I have an opportunity to speak.”
She points to the ingredients needed to make a cake. Taken individually, she says, they won’t taste good. ”It the same with us, if we work together, if there is unity, life will be beautiful,” Elisa says.
“I always tell Jesus, when I face somebody, please put your words in my mouth and open their heart. I ask Him, “When I speak, make it no longer me, but You speaking through me,” she explains.
Sharabeth Rosqeta, 35, from Cabaruan Quirino Isabela, Philippines, says she sought work in Jordan because her family is poor.
“We are 10 children, and I’m the youngest. I come to the Center every Friday because it’s a big help for me and I learn a lot. I was baptized here at the age of 23 with confirmation and communion following,” Sharabeth says. “I have been able to learn more about my faith and Jesus.”
The other Teresian, Amabel Sibug, has taught Sharabeth to play the guitar as well as how to budget her finances effectively.
“We celebrate as a family. This is the most important thing that they feel: I belong,” says the energetic Teresian. ”Welcome to the family, we are glad that you have come to share your life with us where we can learn to love and to pray, as well as to be strong and to lean on each other,” says Amabel.
”For us, the gift of our vocation is that we give up everything to share the love of Jesus,” Elisa adds. “Thanks to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association for sponsoring us for our activities. “
Read more about those making a new home In a Land of Refugees in the September 2019 edition of ONE.