Ronaldo Enriquez worked at a factory in Hsinchu County, Taiwan, from 2003 until 2015. During that time, he volunteered as a lay minister, altar server, and in our Lectors and Commentators program. Ronaldo has written about his experience as a migrant worker in Taiwan as part of the documentary series, “The Migrant Worker’s Face.”
By Ronaldo Enriquez
Edited by Hannes Zetzsche
Let me set one thing straight: Taiwan is not some backwater country with nothing in it.
Taiwan is extremely developed and wealthy, particular in comparison to my home in the Philippines. It was my realization of the wealth in Taiwan that motivated me to move there in 2003 for work. I became a migrant worker because I thought that my family deserved the best, and I believed that by working in Taiwan I could buy the best things for them. However, it was also the reality of Taiwan’s wealth and opportunities that tempted me with vices and brought me to a new low in my life. At the Hope Workers’ Center, I found security in a country where I had become hopeless.
As a production operator in Hsinchu, I was tasked with a lot of responsibility. Upon arriving in Taiwan, I learned my job very quickly through my own tremendous hard work and dedication. My employers rewarded me by paying me much more than other workers. However, I quickly learned that money alters how we value things in our lives such as time and our roles in family as a parent and spouse.
There were times during this period when I gave into such dangerous vices as drinking, smoking, and going out with other girls. I could buy anything I want, and in Taiwan those things were readily available. These vices took me down a dark path of trials and to my weakest moment, when it felt as if I had lost my family and friends. I had somehow even lost my money and entered into debt. My family and I had entered into a destructive relationship and I felt insulted by their words, which seemed poisonous. I felt hopeless and I became mentally ill. I considered ending my life.
But with the help of the Hope Workers’ Center, I found something worth striving for, despite how messed up I had become.
The Hope Workers’ Center became a safe place for me to interact with other people and to heal, away from the relationships that had become destructive in my life. The people I met at the Hope Workers’ Center helped me to talk about how I felt and about how I can bring my concerns to God, how I can trust everything to Him. Adoration helped me a lot because I could be in the presence of Christ’s body.
Through reconciliation, I was cleansed of the sins in my past. I even got to receive Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist at every mass. It gave me the strength for the battles of my life. I still struggled, but I had found a place to go when I was having a rough time and a place to channel my energies.
The church taught me that faith without deeds is dead, and so I was able to realign my life to one emphasizing deeds of service to God. I went to church every Sunday and I began volunteering my time to help others. As a lay minister and an altar server, I helped others to celebrate Christ during mass. Serving others helped to relieve my suffering because I was improving the lives of people less fortunate than me and providing hope to those who were suffering.
By the end of my time in Taiwan, I recognized that the best decisions in life are those that give up those tempting vices that may seem good and replace them with actions that truly are good in God’s eyes. For me, that meant volunteering at the Hope Workers’ Center.
I invite you to seek God’s goodness in your life as well.
This reflection by Ronaldo Enriquez has been published by the Hope Workers’ Center as an entry to “The Migrant Worker’s Face” documenting project. The Hope Workers’ Center continues to seek stories like Ronaldo’s so that we can add detail to migrants’ intricate face. There are two ways that you can help us. If you are a migrant worker and would be willing to share your story, we want to hear from you directly! You can read instructions about how to participate here. If you are not a migrant worker, then we ask you to continue supporting our project: read our stories weekly and invite others to do the same.
The Hope Workers’ Center is dedicated to supporting migrant workers in our community. Through this project, we hope to appreciate the beauty of each person’s life while fostering recognition among a wider audience of the struggles that migrants regularly encounter in their work. Thank you for your support!