Red Cross launches resource app to help OFWs find info, help; avoid abuses and human trafficking while abroad

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Photo: Philippine National Red Cross (www.redcross.org.ph)

By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA — The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched on November 27, a new web platform that will help overseas Filipino workers and their families.

Dubbed as the “Virtual Volunteer,” the new web platform offers support to OFWs and their family members by “providing useful information before migrating, while abroad, and linking up with available services.”

“The number of migrant workers has become so significant. The problem has become so big that we have to start where we can win. Information is as vital as food, water, medicine, and clothes. Objective and timely information is something that migrants could lean on after leaving their homes and families,” said PNRC Chairman Richard Gordon in a statement from the Philippine Information Agency.

The Virtual Volunteer also aims to be a source of verified local information from any connected device, to keep migrants safe and healthy at all stages of migration, provide information to OFWs and family members on available services, and provide information to PNRC volunteers to help them engage with communities locally, contributing to delivering essential knowledge to people in every corner of the country.

The platform will also provide “reliable and unbiased information on what to do in case of emergency while abroad, how to prepare for a new life abroad, and how to protect themselves from traffickers and abuse at any stage.”

What’s in the app?
According to the PNRC, the platform will provide users practical information and advice from the agency, such as:
• Basic information that they need to know before they leave the country like how to find local support in their destination, documents to bring, practical advice from their home country and their countries of destination.

• Information from their countries of destination: emergency contacts, embassy location and who to call for help.

• Information on what services are available for their families in the Philippines.

In a report by The Philippine Daily Inquirer, PRC Secretary-General Oscar Palabyab said the web platform was developed by the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Communities and IBM.

“It used to be reactive. We react when there is a problem. There must be a technology that will help migrant workers even without shelling a lot of money,” Palabyab said.

“It’s a step in the right direction. It’s providing power to those who want to go abroad.

Knowledge is power. We want to give our people knowledge at their fingertips. It gives our prospective workers the information they need,” Palabyab added.

The web platform has already been rolled out in Sweden, Greece, Italy and will be launched soon and for the first time in Asia and the Pacific. The platform is also available in eight languages.

12 million Pinoys abroad seeking info and services
According to migration report cited by the PNRC, more than 12 million Filipinos are working and living overseas, which lead to the increased incidence of problems and challenges faced by OFWs and their families.

“People going abroad do not usually know where to seek information and what available services they have. The right information can help them avoid falling in situations of abuse, exploitation, or traffickers. This web platform is a key in saving lives and building resilience. Having information easily accessible through a connected mobile phone is an easy, light way to prepare before going to a new country and access information once at destination,” Palabyab said.

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