Pinoy family reunites after escaping trafficker

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Feb. 19, 2014

JAMAICA, NY – The Pradel family is a great example of what family reunification looks like.

For nearly five years, Dema Ramos-Pradel – a victim of human trafficking – has been away from her husband and kids to provide them a better life in the Philippines.

Ramos-Pradel received a T-Visa after proving that she was a trafficking victim in 2013. She was then able to file an immigration petition to bring her family to the US.

The Pradel family was reunited in New York Tuesday.

Dema Ramos-Pradel said, “I’m very happy because my family was able to come without any problems and now we’re all together here. I still have three married children who were left behind.”
“When I saw her, I could not help but cry,” her husband Zaldy Pradel said. “Of course, I saw the woman I love, the woman I’ve missed.”

In 2009, a Kuwaiti diplomat trafficked Ramos-Pradel to the US.

The Mauban, Quezon native says she worked as a cook, housekeeper, nanny for five kids, and washed clothes for the diplomat’s whole family.

For six months, she served her employer 20 hours a day for seven days a week – but the diplomat at the Kuwaiti Mission to the United Nations paid her only 69 cents an hour, with no overtime pay and no days off.

“Even during the wee hours, when I’m already lying in bed, resting, I would still get called to work, even on the simplest things,” she said. “I could never rest because I was expected to work all hours.”

The 53-year-old Ramos-Pradel escaped her abusive employer in 2012 through the help of Damayan Migrant Workers Association – an organization of mostly Filipino domestic workers helping other workers like her.

Damayan also plays a big role in reuniting Filipino families especially those who are victims of human and labor trafficking.

“Women, especially, work here in America so they can provide for their families,” Damayan’s Linda Oalican said. “But their biggest sacrifice is being away from them.”

Damayan officials say, their assistance does not stop when families are reunited. It only means there is more work to be done especially with the family’s integration process – from teaching them how to navigate their way around their new home, to finding which schools to send their kids to and how to find jobs.

Damayan’s Ria Ortiz said, “It’s so that they can slowly transition to their new lives as immigrants in the U.S.”

“Our bond as a family will surely be stronger. We’ve proven that we’ve remained strong and we will always be for days to come,” Zaldy Pradel said.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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