1 September 2016

"Au Pair" is a Term for Cheap Labor No More

"Wala namang masama sa pagiging au pair, ang mahalaga masaya ka sa ginagawa mo."
-ReiJie F.
fter learning this program from a friend, I have decided to try my luck. I have been searching and understanding the concept of being an Au Pair for the past few months. According to the definition on the internet, “Au pair, which means “at par” in French, is a cultural exchange program that taps youth between 18-30 years old to live with host families in Europe and learn their language. In exchange, they have to help with baby-sitting and housekeeping chores for not more than 5 hours a day.”  This doesn’t sound too difficult at all and I thought this is something I could do since it has been my ultimate dream to travel abroad, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and yet earning a little amount of money to support my needs by looking after the children and doing light housework for my host family.

Though many think that the word "Au Pair" is a code for cheap labor, this is not enough to stop some aspiring Filipinos who would like to give it a shot abroad. Despite the horrible stories behind Au pairing, there are still success stories just like the wonderful journey of my friend in the photo who is currently travelling in Europe as an Au Pair.

"Wala namang masama sa pagiging au pair, ang mahalaga masaya ka sa ginagawa mo"she said (There is nothing wrong about being an Au pair, what's important is you are happy). Reijie (not her real name) has been a good friend to me since we were in college. Everyone thinks of her as a strong-willed person. She does the impossible things and you can never stop her. She's traveled different places around our country-Philippines and she's been to more than 10 European countries and counting. If there's one thing I've learned from her, that would be-tiwala lang kay God (trust God).

Au pairing program was apparently banned in the late 1990's and was finally lifted in 2012. In spite of the said restrictions, the number of incoming Filipino Au Pair has even quadrupled according to CFO that's why they decided to take action on the growing issues regarding bribery with the immigration officers, human-trafficking, and undocumented immigrants in Europe. Some countries, as for instance Denmark and Noway made certain agreement with the Philippines to protect Filipino Au pairs in Europe (you may check the revised July 2015 protocol on the official website of Denmark or Norway). This agreement gives  a chance to many Filipinos like me who are dreaming of working while travelling and learning different cultures including languages of their favorite places in the world specifically in Europe. Unlike before, CFO and different recognized organizations in Europe, Au Pair Network and Babaylan for example are now more at hand in raising awareness of every Au pair's rights and duties.

In my opinion, Au pairing is an incredible way of meeting the other side of your world than pure travelling and working can give. It is meant to help a young person enjoy his/her life and expand one's horizon by means of living with a local family, meeting the locals, and of course joining a language and cultural course. My plans have changed when I decided to join the Au pairing program. Today, I am writing this blog and hoping to write some more when I get to Europe.

Disclaimer: This blog entry does not intend any copyright infringement but for personal entertainment and social awareness only. If you wish to verify information mention in this entry,as for instance definition of terms, embassy protocol, official website- just google and feel free to research by yourself :)

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