Spreading our Wings

by Beryl Cruspero

One of the core services of Batis Center for Women in its more than twenty years of existence is organizing of its women clients. In the Women Empowerment Program, the women are helped to regain their self-confidence having been in distressed situations. Activities such as advocacy campaigns and awareness raising activities such as workshops, trainings and discussions on women’s issues and rights are just some of the activities conducted for them.

In 2007, Batis Center took a major leap when it decided to go into community organizing in order to reach a wider range of women migrants and their families. From being a center-based institution and catering only to walk-in or referred clients, it broadened its scope of work to extend its services and programs to the grassroots level. In an internal study conducted, it was established that majority of the women who sought Batis Center’s services were from the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Sur. These three provinces were also identified as top sending provinces for undocumented migrants based on the data given by POEA.  Most of the women migrant workers applied for domestic work but ended up in exploitative situations in their country of destinations.

In September of the same year, Batis Center pioneered its organizing work in Bgy. Dalig, Balagtas, Bulacan by forming an informal support group of migrant women. Batis Center then replicated its work in Bulacan to Nueva Ecija and in Ilocos Sur in 2010. The clients that we happen to organize in the above mentioned areas were trafficked victims and severely exploited women from Malaysia, China, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, etc. Services such as airport assistance, temporary shelter, medical assistance, legal assistance, educational assistance, and reintegration assistance were provided to them by Batis Center for Women.

Most recently, Batis Center engaged the returned women migrant workers into Social Entrepreneurship (SE). The women’s career interests and their level of entrepreneurial skills were first measured through an assessment. The women then undergo the training, “”How to Start your Business Right” and a mentoring session to help them develop their business plans. The enterprises being put up serve as reintegration assistance to the women. Aside from providing them the opportunity to gain economic opportunities, the SEs also hopes to serve as therapy to help in rebuilding the lives of the clients.

Batis Center also encourages the local government units to help the women in accessing their existing programs and services such as monitoring services, livelihood assistance, referral to agencies that provide services for migrant workers, legal assistance, continuous psychosocial assistance and educational and training assistance.

Organizing work will lead to the existence of extensions or satellite offices of Batis Center for Women in the different communities we work in. In the coming years, we see Batis Center spreading its wings in the field of community development and empowerment. We still have a long way to go through. All this would only be possible with the efforts of the women in the community, their families, the local leaders and other stakeholders. With efforts like these, we see in the coming years the fulfilment of Batis Center’s Empowerment Framework of Self-Help, Help Others, Help Society.

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About rapsa

ako'y isang payat na pinay na libangan ay lumafang galore hangga't may pera sa wallet. dito nauubos ang kaperahang kinikita ko sa mga raket ko bilang titser, singer, development worker, story teller at iba pa. minsan nga pagkain lang ang binabayad sa serbisyo ko solb na! hindi ako maarte sa pagkain. wala naman akong pinipili, kakainin ko ang anumang ihain sa harap ko maliban sa baka. bawal kasi sa ming mga hindu yun. charing. kung hindi ako kumakain, nagbabasa ako ng food blogs o di kaya ay tumitingin sa mga recipe. kung wala ng pera pang pig-out pati yung mga libreng tikim sa supermarket pinapatos ko. mahilig rin akong magbasa ng mga nobela na may kinalaman sa pagkain kagaya ng "like water for chocolate" o kaya ay manuod ng mga pelikulang may pagkain pa rin kagaya ng "tortilla soup" o "chocolat". pangarap ko ang makapag-handa kagaya ng handa ni babette sa "babette's feast" at maimbitahan ang batang nagbebenta ng sampagita sa kalye, yung bulag na tumutugtog sa overpass, yung manang na nagtitinda ng tinapa sa may bangketa at yung lola na namamalimos sa kanto.

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