Filipino Domestics in the Middle East

Source: District of Asia

Two Traditional Catholic families reside in one of the Gulf states for work purposes. They've asked the SSPX to come now and then to give them the sacraments. Fr. Benoit Wailliez was able to visit them for the second time early July. 

One of the faithful has a good position at the Philippine Embassy. This not only abled Father to say Mass for the personnel (about 20 in attendance) but also to visit the shelter. To understand what we mean by shelter it is important to recall that about 10 million Filipinos work outside the Philippines. That is about 10% of the population! Most of these are maids. They work in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Gulf States. In these latter Arabic states, the condition of domestics is often not to be envied. They have to surrender their passport to their employer, often their cellphone as well, and not infrequently they are deprived of yearly holidays. At times their salary is withheld for several months with no good reason. They may be abused physically and even sexually.

All this explains why a whole wing of the Filipino Embassy is a shelter for domestics who have run away from their employer and who cannot leave the country. When Father visited the shelter, they were about 400 maids! He received about 30 of them for counselling and confession. Their story is often identical. They have left the Philippines to pay for their children's college tuition. They have sent home most of their income and hardly kept anything for themselves. They feel extremely homesick. Truly heartbreaking is the fact that their (misguided) generosity has often led their husband to unfaithfulness -sometimes them as well- and to a broken family. Children are estranged from their mother and their sacrifice seems to have been useless or even very harmful to the whole family.

While a weekly Saturday Mass is celebrated at the shelter, Father noticed that all the maids hadn't confessed for a considerable number of years. This is typical Novus Ordo: people don't go to confession because priests don't speak of it anymore and don't dedicate time to this sacrament of God's Mercy. The maids however say the Rosary per room at night. On their own initiative. In the evening of his visit, Father gave the maids an instruction on the Hail Mary. Since a small minority was Protestant, Father showed how very biblical this prayer was. 230 domestics attended the talk and were imposed the Brown Scapular. Since the queue was quite long, the maids sang several hymns to Our Lady in Tagalog and recited the Rosary. The temperature was very high (45 degrees in the shade), but thank God with no humidity. 

Since this country is a relatively strict Muslim country, this is how Father dressed up:

  • civvies to enter and leave the country
  • normal priestly dress (white cassock and black sash) at the Embassy;
  • white cassock (similar to the local long white gown called Kandoorah or Dishdaashah) outside. 

Let's keep these faithfuls in our prayers. They only have Mass every 3-4 months.