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Atikha is a non-government organization that provides economic and social services to overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines. The organization aims to help address the social cost of migration and tap the development potential of migration.

Atikha was initiated in 1995 by a group of migrant returnees, advocates and religious leaders in Laguna. It was established based on a Bread for World-funded study on the impact of migration on women. The study revealed the social cost of migration, especially on the children left behind. It also showed that many migrants are unable to save due probably to a crisis in the work site, in the family, or the migrant herself. Many come home ill prepared to face the future. Often, life has become more miserable. They are much older and have few skills. They cannot be employed nor do they have funds to start their own business.

Founding BoardAtikha was formally established and registered in 1996. Respected community and religious leaders, migrant returnees, sociologists and psychologists, social workers and social entrepreneurs are the people behind Atikha. The founding board was composed of Msgr. Jerry Bitoon (then Vicar General of the Diocese of San Pablo the 1st Hermit), Mother Stella Cordero, Sister Norie Santiago (head of Alay Kapwa and High School Principal of Canossa College) and four Overseas Filipino returnees, Ma. Virginia Melgar, Rebecca Martinez, Serma Chozas and Mai Dizon-Anonuevo(masters in Entrepreneurship, Asia Institute of Management).

The pilot areas of Atikha are San Pablo City in Laguna and the Municipality of Mabini in Batangas.

In the initial years, Atikha focused its work on addressing the social problems brought about by the separation of the Overseas Filipinos and their families. Atikha organizes communities of migrant families by providing psychosocial intervention to enable the community to respond to migration-related issues. It gives focus on the children of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and women. It conducted value formation, summer arts and crafts workshops for the children of overseas Filipinos in San Pablo City, Laguna. It also helped form self-help groups among the children of overseas Filipinos. Atikha believes that the social preparation of the families and the community is an important component for an effective reintegration program for migrant workers.

In 2001, Atikha did a research on the situation of the overseas Filipino workers, their families and communities. Some of the significant findings of the research were:

  • Although overseas migration has raised the standard of living of families, it has not contributed substantially to the economic development of communities.
  • Most overseas Filipino workers have no substantial savings despite years of work abroad. A big number of them are caught in the debt trap. There is a dearth of opportunities in their place of origin and in the country as a whole.
  • Overseas Filipinos are on the look out for viable enterprises that will support them when they retire or enable their families to have additional income. Unfortunately, most of the business endeavors that overseas Filipinos have established failed.

Succeedingly, Atikha has innovated new programs and services that address the economic concerns of the Overseas Filipinos. It is instrumental in the establishment of:

  • SPC Women & OFW Center which serves a one stop center that cater to the needs of OFWs and their families
  • Batang Atikha Savers Club an association of migrants’ children and other members of the community
  • Coco Natur Overseas Filipino Worldwide and Producers’ Cooperative, a cooperative that generates investment from OFWs and coconut farmers for the establishment of Coco Natur, a social enterprise that produces Virgin Coconut Oil and other coconut-based products in order to increase the income of OFWs and coconut farmers, create jobs and livelihood opportunities

About ATIKHAAtikha hopes to create an enabling environment for Overseas Filipino investment and development in its pilot areas. It enjoins the OFWs, their families, the church , the government , the schools and other sectors of the community towards addressing the social cost of migration and in tapping the development potentials of overseas migration in other areas with high concentration of OFWs.

Atikha will continue working on the following:

  • mobilizing overseas Filipino resources for the development of the Overseas Filipinos, their families and communities;
  • establishing Overseas Filipino Centers that would provide economic and social services to more Overseas Filipinos, families and members of their communities; and
  • assisting in developing enterprises for Overseas Filipino investment.