International Development: The Salvation Army respond to Human Trafficking in the Philippines
published on 15 Oct 2015
This Anti-Slavery Day (Sunday 18 October) read about The Salvation Army’s response to Human Trafficking in the Philippines which supports communities affected by trafficking and empowers people to work together to protect themselves in future.
Ivy Atam lives in the remote village of Lamsine with her husband Jianggo and two children.
The village is surrounded by commercial banana and pineapple plantations but employment here often pays below minimum wage. Jianggo worked on a corn farm earning only 100-200 Peso (about £2) a day whilst Ivy, who does not have a formal education, was unable to get a job. Education is a priority for many families in Lamsine and though they long to send their children to school, very few earn enough to do so.
In 2010, Ivy and her family were living at her sister’s house but she dreamed of being able to increase their income so they could have their own home. One day, a recruiter visited the village offering opportunities for work as domestic help in Saudi Arabia. All arrangements and payments would be taken care of by the employer and Ivy was told that she would receive $400 per month. She accepted the opportunity.
However, when Ivy arrived in Saudi Arabia, her passport and phone were taken and the employer made her sign a document stating she would only receive $180 per month. Ivy was forced to live in one room with two other female workers. She was forbidden to leave unless accompanied by the employer to run errands.
The women worked for a year but did not receive any wages. One night, the girls were able to escape but on their way to the Filipino embassy, they were stopped by a police officer. When they could not provide identification and ‘right to work’ documents they were taken to jail.
There were over 100 other Filipino, Ethiopian and Indonesian women being held in the prison for the same reason. The three women were held here for 6 months while the embassy arranged travel home documents.
No police case was filed against the employers.
Back home, Jianggo was very concerned as he had not heard from Ivy since she had left and though he tried to track her down, he was unsuccessful. However, The Salvation Army provided funds to transport her home and Ivy and Jianggo were finally reunited.
A NEW CHANCE
They now both volunteer with The Salvation Army. They are supported by the other volunteers and members of the local corps (church) as Ivy continues to recover from her experience. Ivy visits members of the community to raise awareness of trafficking and uses her personal story to prevent people from being tricked by traffickers. She now dreams of opening up a small convenience store to provide for her family.
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