She comes to office at 7:30 each morning, a time at which most souls are still in bed enjoying their extended slumber. She turns the lights on; put her bag on her desk and heads straight to the pantry. She opens one black garbage bag and proceeds to each employee’s desk to collect the trash. She then wipes the tables, arranges the chairs, vacuums the carpet floors and neatly sorts the things in the desks left scattered by employees after the day's work. After making sure everything looks like what a clean office should be, she heads back to the pantry. This time, she washes the coffee mugs and removes the stains and granules spilled over the sink and around. She then refills the beans in the coffee maker and replaces the empty water dispenser with another 5 gallons of liquid all by herself. After probably forty five minutes of motion and devotion, she leaves the area and carries on to another office in another floor and again do exactly the same thing. Before anyone comes in, traces of what they called an office day has been completely vanished and just like what she always greets everyone with, it’s time for another very good morning.
She’s bubbly, never less energetic, and always helpful and her loud high-pitched voice greatly resonates her Kapampangan nativity. Her welcome antics are just exactly what you need to start up the morning. Her jokes, quite old hat and un-relatable at times, nonetheless make you realize that it does take only a few face muscles, not loads of material things, to lighten up somebody else’s spirit.
Meet Josefa – our ever dependable office cleaner. She’s a widow, mother, daughter, sister, a friend and an OFW.
She has been in Dubai before anyone of us did, way before the rise of skyscrapers that now dotted Dubai skyline. She’s been here ahead of the construction boom that paved the way for the influx of Pinoy workers back in 2000. She’s been here struggling long before we have even thought that someday we’re actually going to be just like her – an overseas Filipino worker. She’s been defying the fang of working far from her loved ones for years, she’s been braving the multi-cultural environment here not to mention the extremes of its weather. But from the looks of it, she seems to have just arrived in Dubai, excited, enthusiastic and never feeling the boredom and awkwardness of doing a job some people could only look down to.
Because she has a responsibility to live up to and the obligation to raise her family on her own –she does what she does and a whole lot more. Oftentimes during our lunch breaks, she would always share her great experiences working in Dubai for the fun of it. Truly her retelling makes for a festive ice breaker but on the other side of it, it makes you realize the efforts and sacrifices she’s done just to keep her family surviving and well lived. Based on her stories; she used to sell clothes by knocking on Arab mansions that usually employ Filipino house helpers. She has also tried selling so many other things all the while working with a regular job mostly as office assistant or helper. That’s all her education could afford her but nonetheless she makes up for the little salary she’s getting by engaging in part time jobs. She does what she does and a whole lot more - all for the welfare of her family.
She works hard to provide for her family’s needs, to send them to school at the very least and buy for them gadgets that serve more as accessories rather than convenience. Still, she manages to pull it off, trying to make both ends meet and that’s one thing that’s admirable of her. She knows how to be practical and her resourcefulness in so many levels is seen even outside her family life. She may not be earning as much as she needed to earn, but always when someone celebrates a birthday in the office, she would turn our conference room into a miniature party place complete with balloons, photo booth and poppers. She knows how to prepare the cheapest yet adorable pica pica and one time when she bragged having prepared a 4 viand meal out of a meager sum of money, I knew she wasn’t actually kidding, but merely sharing how far someone’s ingenuity can take you to places.
But life sometimes has its ugly way of telling people that they have to endure more to prove more. While toiling far from her children, her absence has spared her daughter from taking the right path. She got impregnated at a very young age and out of a parent’s sight. It’s a double stab for her to see her daughter in such a helpless situation and the same time taking all the blows and blame that such things happened because she wasn’t there to look after her children. It’s cruel and may seem unfair when good intentions end up harvesting unwanted fruits. But who knows? God won’t give you cross you can’t carry. Maybe, after this ordeal, something better and brighter is in store for her and her family.
Three months ago, she went for vacation to attend the graduation of her son. It was her proudest moment seeing her sacrifices getting paid off. Never mind if she has advanced her two months’ salary just to be able to buy a ticket home, being there when it happened was just simply priceless. Now, she’s arranging the papers so she could get her son to work here in Dubai to help her as they fulfill their dreams. Presently, she still works in our company making sure that our desks are clean and bins empty before we arrive in the office. The day wouldn’t be complete without her undeniable presence. Her day job may not be well compensated at all and bears no glamour or prestige whatsoever, but I must say that she does the best job in the world after all - and that is motherhood.