I think its important not to just think that Jordanians are terrible people, says Father OConnell. The difficulty of this type of labor is that its done where the government cannot supervise it. In any country, its going to be difficult.
There are people who have worked here 20 or 25 years, who have either initially or eventually found employment situations as domestic workers which are terrific, continues Father OConnell. They dont like being away from their family, but theyre treated with respect. They earn sufficient money that they can send home. They have, maybe, some independence here as well. They have leadership roles within the Filipino community. So there are some people for whom its a wonderful experience.
One such worker is 53-year-old Betty Hizon. Originally from a small town on the Filipino island of Luzon, she has lived and worked in Jordan for nearly two decades. Though she has struggled with living away from her family, she never experienced abuse by her employers.
After high school, she studied at a two-year college. At the age of 20, she married her husband, who worked as an engineer for the Philippine government. A year later, she gave birth to the first of her six children.
She first thought to leave home to work when her husband lost his engineering job and could only find low-paying work as a driver.
How could we raise our children if I let my husband work alone? she recalls. But in the Philippines, its hard to find a job.
One day, she received a message from a cousin, who had been working as a nanny in Jordan and wanted to return to the Philippines. The employer still needed a live-in domestic, and her cousin recommended Mrs. Hizon. The family immediately hired her.
It is really difficult to make the decision, especially when your children are still young, she says. My oldest was only 12 when I left.
Though the family treated her well, they paid her only $150 a month. After a number of years, she landed her current, better paying position as a nanny for a different family.
I treat the children as if they were my own, because I am a mother, she says, as her voice cracks and her eyes fill with tears. For the first seven years in Jordan, she never once visited home. At the end of every two-year contract, her employers have always offered her a round-trip ticket to the Philippines. Instead, she preferred to send home the value of the plane fare in cash.
I needed to save the extra money, for the sake of my children, she says.
For many years, she did not have access to international calling, much less a cellphone. She communicated with her family exclusively by mail, which required a month for delivery.
Every time I read the letter from my children, I always cried, she remembers.
The money she sends home, however, has allowed her family to live reasonably well and has helped put her children through school.
I cannot say we are rich. But, we certainly eat three times a day, she says with a laugh.
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Tags: Jordan Catholic Employment