Fidelina Eamiguel’s father passed away just a few months after she graduated from college. It was a difficult time for her family, the OFW from Hong Kong told the Toronto Star. She was the eldest of six children, and her father’s sudden death put the responsibility of providing for her siblings squarely on her shoulders. Read on to find out how this OFW from Hong Kong successfully brought her family back together.
Eamiguel didn’t think twice, knowing only that her mum and siblings needed taking care of.
OFW PUTS HER LIFE ON PAUSE, GOES TO HK
She signed up with a recruitment agency at POEA and packed her bags for Hong Kong to work as a domestic helper, a job she worked at for almost two years.
Working in Hong Kong was difficult, she told the Star. Her employers made her work six days a week, allowing her some time off on Sundays to go to church and meet with friends.
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) aren’t paid very well working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Not only did she have to pay off the loan she took from her cousins to pay for the placement fee, she also sent home half her salary to her mum and siblings.
OFW FROM HONG KONG GOES TO CANADA AS A CAREGIVER
It was in Hong Kong that she heard about the Government of Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP).
The now-defunct immigration program was a stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), which allowed Canadian employers to hire foreign workers for specific jobs if they couldn’t find available Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
The LCP was a stream of the TFWP, that proved wildly popular with OFWs like Eamiguel. Under the LCP, qualified Canadian employers could hire OFWs to care for children, elderly or disabled.
Tens of thousands of OFWs came under the LCP, some coming from the Philippines, others coming from Singapore, Taiwan, Israel, the Middle East and, like Eamiguel, Hong Kong.
Many paid illegal fees of CAD$3,000 and up just to be able to apply under the program, only to be released upon arrival without Canadian employers.
Eamiguel told the Star that she didn’t have much of a choice, that she had to find a way to make more money, “I really didn’t have much then. It was a difficult time. But I couldn’t stop there, I had to keep supporting my family.”
In 2005, Eamiguel connected with a Canadian employer who needed a caregiver to take care of their young children. After going through the application process, Eamiguel found herself on a plane on her way to Toronto Pearson International Airport.
OFW FROM HONG KONG BECOMES PR IN CANADA
For the next five years, Eamiguel endured what many other OFWs went through; homesickness and loneliness. After much hard work and sacrifice, she finally became a permanent resident.
Fourteen years later, Eamiguel looks back on what she went through to be where she’s at today.
“Canada means to me a lot. Compared to home, here we have opportunities. We have free healthcare. I am so blessed,” she told the Toronto Star.
Eamiguel now lives in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood. She and her husband, Albert have two children together. Both are Canadian citizens, having been born in Canada.
TORONTO STAR SANTA CLAUS FUND
Local community organizations approached Eamiguel asking if they wanted to be recipients of the Star’s Santa Claus Fund.
The Santa Claus Fund is a registered children’s charity that provides over 45,000 underprivileged children with Christmas gifts.
The Santa Claus Fund was started in 1906 by the Star’s publisher Joseph Atkinson.
Each year, the fund raises millions of dollars and has given hundreds of thousands of children gifts containing clothing, toys, books, candy and personal hygiene products.
Referrals are made by settlement and community organizations all across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), with names of families submitted to the fund.
Eamiguel’s children received gifts from the fund last year. She shared with the Star how happy their children were to receive the gifts.
“I saw it in my son’s eyes, happiness, joy. He kept saying ‘Mommy, mommy, we have a gift from Santa.’ It was magical. My son refused to let me help him carry the box upstairs, even though he’s so small.”
Eamiguel is grateful for the gifts her children received through the Toronto Star’s Santa Claus Fund, and for the generosity and selflessness of Canadians. Most of all, she’s grateful to be with her family in Canada.
“I don’t have a lot of money, but I’m a millionaire because of my friends, family, and where I live.”
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