A 34-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW), illegally recruited, decided to leave her employer but found refuge at the Sri Lanka International Airport.
Blas Ople Policy Center and Training Institute head Susan Ople, according to the report related the fate of Sunshine Sereno who was a worker in a Middle East country.
The OFW stayed with her employer in Doha, Qatar for only a month due to unfavorable working conditions. She was asked to return to the Philippines. From Doha, she had to travel to Colombo, Sri Lanka and then Hong Kong before she can finally reach home.
When she was in Sri Lanka and about to board her flight to Hong Kong, she was not able to board her flight. She Learned that her employer in Doha canceled her plane ticket.
“She could not board the plane. Neither could she go out of the airport without the appropriate visa. On top of that, she faces arrest by the immigration police unless she can produce a ticket home,” Ople said.
However, Sereno was allowed to stay at the airport until she is able to buy a ticket to Manila. There’s where Sereno survives by begging food to total strangers or borrow chargers to power up her mobile phone. She uses the airport’s bathroom and drinks from its drinking fountains.
“The staff [of an airline] gave her food, once a day, which soon became twice a day. The maintenance and janitorial crew of the airport became her good friends. She cried a lot, and would occupy empty seats to sleep,” Ople said.
Through her mobile phone and the free wi-fi service at the airport, she was able to inform her sister in Hong Kong and a friend in Russia about her situation. from there, her relatives contacted Ople who relayed her situation to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), who then called the honorary consul in Colombo.
After having the airport as her temporary abode for almost a week, Sereno, with the help of her sister who sent her a plane ticket to Manila, she was now home with her love ones.