Lala is a 48 year old Filipina residing in San Jose. She was a teacher in the Philippines before she was labor trafficked by an agency that promised her a teaching job in the US. When she arrived to the United States, she was forced to work in a low-wage daycare job in Washington DC.

After joining GABRIELA and fighting for her rights as a worker, she then moved to the Bay Area and worked as a caregiver. During the pandemic, she quit her job because of her dialysis appointments. Before leaving her caregiving position, she reported difficulties in receiving proper protections in her workplace. She also experienced delayed government benefits. She shares her experience below:

When this COVID came, [the employer] provided us with PPE, but only very minimal. Like four pieces only and then we have to reuse it. So it’s not good to be reusing those masks. They just told us to spray them with disinfectant and reuse it again...We were only given a box of gloves but these gloves are not really enough. So every time our client does number two, we have to reuse it again.“

“In our green card application, we’re getting hit really hard. There are lots of emails that are sending us information about housing assistance but I cannot apply for housing assistance because right now, if you are going to apply for any government aid or government assistance, you will not be granted a green card because of that. If you’re applying for a green card, and if you’re also trying to apply for benefits then applying the benefits will affect your green card application.”

Photographer Credit: Kirsten Jill Aguilar

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