Involvement as researcher


I am a former migrant domestic worker. I worked for six years in Singapore. In 1998, I returned home to the Philippines, for good. Since then, I had been involved in activities of various NGOs on migration, health and HIV issues. My involvement with ACHIEVE started in 2004. I participated in various trainings and workshops they offered for migrant worker returnees like me, such as the gender and sexuality workshops, advocacy and communication skills building trainings and basic research training, among others.

In 2009, ACHIEVE started implementation of a project called, “Developing Intervention to address Stress and Mental Health Problems among Women Migrant Workers”. This project entailed the conduct of a national survey among migrant domestic workers on mental health issues. As a former migrant domestic worker, and as someone who had been involved in their migration and health projects in the past, ACHIEVE believed that I had the capacity to participate in this project. When ACHIEVE asked me to be involved in the survey, not as a respondent, but as an interviewer, I kept asking myself if I could do it. But with proper guidance, I was able to do my role as a field researcher.
To guide me and my fellow interviewers (some of whom were also domestic workers) in the conduct of the survey, an orientation on the study and a training for interviewers were conducted. Our project coordinator guided and mentored us throughout the conduct of the survey.
We interviewed domestic workers in various sites, such as in recruitment agencies and in the premises of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). Though the orientation helped me in understanding the technical aspects of the questionnaire, getting into the field entailed some difficulties. It was a challenge for me to convince some of the women to respond to the survey. They were busy doing paper work and had limited time, while our questionnaire was long. Thus, sometimes, women would not even respond to our request for an interview. Despite that, I was still able to complete the number of interviews assigned to me. I was able to relate with the respondents. I already experienced what they shared in the survey. Being away from loved ones, I also felt alone in a foreign land. It broke my heart, listening to their stories.
Following the survey, I also participated in the national consultation to develop intervention packages addressing mental health issues of women migrant domestic workers. As the project is still currently ongoing, I trust that my involvement will also be continuing.

I look forward to more opportunities to improve and enhance the various skills I have learned in project implementation, advocacy, education-awareness activities and research. I hope that ACHIEVE will continue to facilitate my involvement in these areas.