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Migration Stakeholders launches Gender Sensitive Financial Education Course for ASEAN Migrants in Singapore

The goal of many migrant workers is to be able to send their children to school and support the needs of their families. They dream of saving and investing enough money to be able to build homes and to start their own businesses when they return home.   However, the majority are not able to sufficiently save and invest to fulfill their long-term goals despite long years of work abroad.

This lead different stakeholders composed of the International Labour Organization (ILO),  Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiatives ( Atikha),  Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines,  Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia , Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrant and Itinerant People ( ACMI),   Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME),  and Foreign Domestic Workers Association for Social Service and Training ( FAST)  to work together to promote the conduct of the financial education for ASEAN migrants in Singapore.   The formal launching the financial education campaign was held last March 15, 2015 at the Catholic Center in Singapore which also coincided with the graduation of the first batch of the pilot run of the financial education course.

Manuel Imson, the senior project coordinator ASEAN Triangle Project of ILO  shared that ILO engaged Atikha to develop a gender sensitive financial education course for ASEAN migrants working in  Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand  to promote financial education especially among foreign domestic workers who are the most vulnerable migrant workers in the region.  The project also sponsored a training of trainers among migrant leaders, staff of NGOs and the Indonesian embassy in Singapore who in turn conducted the training among migrant workers.

Describing the course,  Mai Dizon Anonuevo, executive director of Atikha mentioned, “ ….course we developed for ASEAN migrants highlighted gender issues in goal setting, budgeting, investing and borrowing.  It does not only discusses about money matters but also identifies  family and socio-cultural issues that drains the resources of the migrants.  It provides strategies to address these issues  and empowers the migrants especially  women to take better control of their funds and their future”.

It was heartwarming to listen to the trainers and graduates of the first batch of Financial Education Training of HOME, ACMI and Indonesia embassy who shared their insights of the course.    Ellen Elecanal mentioned that ACMI was able to reach Filipinos and Burmese migrants and a lot of churches are also requesting that they conduct the course.  Dewa Negara  shared that the Indonesian embassy was able to reach about 300 migrant domestic workers in their pilot run of the course and that they all stayed in touch by having a group face book page.

Migrants who attended the course described some of the changes that they experienced after the training.  They learned how to engage their family in goal setting, learned how to say “No”. They asked the question, “ Is this a Need or a Want? when shopping. They are more conscious of their budget.  All these small changes made a huge impact. They are now able to save part of their income and they can see their future back home.

Timothy Karl, executive director of ACMI and Sisi Sukiato, director for administration of HOME both discussed their plans to integrate the conduct of the financial education course as part of the regular training program of their NGOs.

No less than H.E. Antonio Morales, ambassador of the Philippines came to show his support and shared the Philippine embassy’s commitment to promote the financial education training.  Consul Didit Parlambang mentioned that the Indonesia embassy will continue the conduct the training program and it is committed to adopt the training as part of the program of the embassy.

The event ended with a signing of the Pledge of Commitment of the NGOs with the support of the other stakeholders who pledged to work with them to institutionalise the program among their organisations. At the end of the program, migrants came and congratulated the organisers of the event lead by ILO and Atikha. Most of them said, “We are glad of this program. It is a much needed intervention in support of the migrant workers.”

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