It was in 2004 when Lowella Rasalan went abroad and worked as a domestic helper in Singapore to support her family of five.
She was full of hope and determination with the aim to give her family a better life.
However, her work in a foreign country scarred her.
Never did she imagine she will be maltreated by her employer.
Afraid things would get worse, Rasalan escaped from her employer, took a cab, and sought refuge from the Philippine Embassy.
“When I got home, I started to fear people. I always get sick and nervous,” she recalled.
Traumatized by her past, the 39-year-old former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) is now an active member of the Paspas Dur-as Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.
Through this program, Rasalan said she regained confidence in life.
“When the association was formed, by God’s mercy, I am slowly gaining back my confidence,” said Rasalan.
She is often chosen as the group’s representative in dialogues or meetings with officials in their locality, and even attended trainings sponsored by agencies and private sector.
Interestingly, she was also elected as treasurer of their association as some members describe her trustworthy and skillful.
“In our group, Ate Lowella is the only one capable who could handle the position as treasurer,” said Alma Edra, one of the members in the group.
However, because of anxiety attacks brought by her past, Rasalan said she almost quit from her position but her fellow members encouraged and supported her.
Eventually, she stayed.
“I am very grateful to our group because aside from providing me a stable job, it helped me a lot to move on from what happened to me. Maybe this is where I could grow more,” said Rasalan.
Paspas Dur-as SLPA of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte was established in June 2017 and is composed of 150 members.
As one of the most active SLPAs in the country, the group was selected as a finalist during the Sulong Bayanihan in 2019.
The said competition is an annual activity of the Department of Social Welfare and Development to recognize outstanding beneficiaries under its Sustainable Livelihood Program. (JCR/AMB/MJTAB PIA Ilocos Norte)