Pay It Forward

A year ago I helped a woman named Joan. She was denied by immigration the first time so we need to go through all the legal procedures over again. Luckily for her, the employer who wanted to hire her never gave up on her.

I couldn’t emphasized more the difficulty we had to face just to get her in. She was the most naive person I know. Soft-spoken. Shy. Not well-versed. Anxious. A little jumpy. She was definitely a candidate for offloading.

She’s going back to Philippines today for vacation. Almost a year now since we traded Skype accounts and phone numbers so I can prompt her of the procedures as she was not fluent in English and she gets scared with immigration officers easily.

She tells me, “Miss Jen. What do you want me to bring you from Philippines?”

I didn’t want anything. Seeing her face lit up with gratitude. That is enough reward for me.


Almost two years ago I was also desperate to go to Dubai. Something larger than me was eating me whole and I had to leave. My brother was in Abu Dhabi that time but he could barely help for personal reasons. Huge Family Drama. He was living with his new wife and his finances were also shaky. I had [ no matter how embarrassed I was] to ask my ex-sister-in-law who was also residing in UAE to process documents for me. Considering her history with my brother and the feud between the two of them which caused a lot of controversy during that time, I wasn’t really expecting that much from her. But she has always been like a family to us. I told her my intentions of going to Dubai. She gave me a few days to think about it because once I decided to leave home, there’s no turning back. Huge amount of money was at stake and knowing my background of fickleness and interdependence, she wants me to be sure as concrete. I never had to ask twice again for her to get me a visa. Once I told her I was sure as asphalt, right there and then she emailed an agency, sent all the private documents she has as proof of our relation and gave me all the details I need to know to get to Dubai. She was like a living instruction manual that gave me the best guidelines on how to survive abroad and how to find a job.

When my new sister-in-law found out I was coming, she phoned me. I panicked that she might not like the idea of me traveling – perhaps to see my brother [although I never contacted him for any financial support or assistance].Surprisingly, she insisted that I stay with them and that they be my host until I find a stable job. March 2014 I landed in Abu Dhabi airport and all my fears of being alone in a foreign country diminished.

"Don't pay it back. Pay it forward."



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