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20 Nov, Tuesday
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Filipino shepardess returns home!

THE 66-year-old Filipino shepherdess, Leonora Somera, who was stranded in Saudi Arabia for 18 years is finally back in the Philippines, according to this Arab News story.

I interviewed her last year at the Philippine Consulate shelter in Jeddah, and my resulting story in Arab News helped make her a cause celebre.

The poor woman told me that she was owed SR63,000 ($16,800) in back wages after her employer Misfer Al-Ghamdi moved her from Riyadh to the remote mountain region of Al-Baha, where she spent her days alone tending to the family’s herd of goats. Ghamdi and his family lived in Makkah so that their children could go to school, and only visited Somera during holidays. She was paid irregularly, thus racking up the big amount that her sponsor owed her.

Somera ended up in the Jeddah deportation center despite her sponsor’s son having signed papers allowing her to leave the country, and after giving her only the pittance of SR2,000–pleading that his father was too ill to cough up the rest of the money!

After two weeks in a notoriously hellish place, Somera landed in Manila on Friday and is only today being reunited with her daughter in Nueva Ecija.

A bank account was opened in her name last year to collect donations for her. I have asked for an update on the total amount. I just hope it’s enough to help Somera live out the rest of her life in relative comfort at home with her loved ones.