A Filipina domestic helper was left stranded at Sri Lanka International Airport after her employer canceled her plane ticket to the Philippines.
The 34-year-old OFW, who was illegally recruited, couldn’t stand the bad treatment of her employer and decided to leave the household, fearing her safety.
Sunshine Sereno only worked for one month and decided to quit her job because of the inhumane working condition. Her employer allowed her to return to the Philippines but she had to travel from Doha, Qatar to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and finally from Hong Kong to the Philippines.
According to Blas Ople Policy Center and Training Institute head Susan Ople, Sereno was already in Sri Lanka and ready to board her flight from Hong Kong to the Philippines when she realized that her employer 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,” says Ople.
Fortunately, Sereno was allowed to stay inside Sri Lanka airport until she can buy her own ticket to Manila.
It was inside the airport that the agony of Sereno was prolonged. In order to survive, she had to beg for biscuits, drank water from the drinking fountain and also used the washroom in the airport.
Sereno, without a choice, had to borrow a phone charger from complete strangers.
“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,” says Ople.
Through the free wi-fi service inside the airport, Sereno was able to send a message to her sister in Hong Kong and a friend in Russia to ask for their help.
A family friend of Sereno contacted Ople through FB Messenger. From there, Ople contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs then the honorary consul in Colombo.
Finally, after six long days in the airport, the sister of Sereno sent her a plane ticket to the Philippines.