HAMM, Germany — A Davaoeña shines in Hamm, Germany.
Stories of Filipinos working and living abroad are often coupled with pain and struggle, only few success stories are written.
Just like the story of Arline Ascaño-Ruther, a Davaoeña development worker who shines here. But back in her city, her success was never written, her glory remains untold even to the people she once served.
Mrs. Ruther was an active community organizer and social development worker in the Mindanao region before she left for a study in Germany 17 years ago.
She earned degrees in Chemical Engineering from Mindanao State University, Iligan City and Political Science at the University of Mindanao in Davao City.
She was offered a scholarship in Germarny and after finishing her masters degree in Universität Bremen Germany, she met her husband-Otmar, who used to work for Amnesty International and Bread for the World.
Hamm used to the centre of coal-mining, steel and chemical industries but the economic landscape changed when the government preferred to import coal from other countries and steel industry slumped.
Mrs. Ruther’s world
While helping Mr. Ruther in his apostolic mission and community work, little did Mrs. Ruther realized she was moulding her world–helping the refugees from different countries who have been accepted by the German government to their city.
“At first, it was just talking to them about life, being a refugee, their struggle and the challenges they encounter. I can relate to them because back home there are also internally displaced persons during my time in Davao and Mindanao but later it became a passion,” She narrated.
During weekdays Mrs. Ruther teaches in a local university, on free time she entertains refugees seeking support.
She founded her English language tutorial school or ESL Teacher (English as a Second Language Teacher) at VHS Hamm during weekends.
Many German people, especially the elderly wanted to learn how to speak English because it is the medium of communication outside Germany and when they go out as tourists language is often a barrier, a thing which her language school specializes.
“Engaging with the refugees who want to live in Hamm is a work without compensation but I love doing it, while Otmar does his church duty, I do my social responsibility, I can feel their struggle and pain,” Mrs. Ruther stressed.
She founded the International Forum of Migrant Women in Hamm, which has over 150 members from 25 different countries.
The forum provides a venue for migrant women to establish their own world outside their country of origin.
While Mrs. Ruther attends to her world, Mr. Ruther’s calendar is also filled with responsibilities in the community, in many occasions members of the federal government often consult Mr. Ruther to seek insights on the prospect of Hamm and its development agenda.
But most if his time is dedicated to his apostolic duty and consultation with the refugees.
Oragizaing the breakfast Forum for Migrant Women in her city, is a thing which the Hamm City leadership recognised.
No less than Hamm City Mayor Lordmayor of Hamm (Germany), Thomas Hunsteger-Petermann recognised her contribution.
Mrs. Ruther’s involvement in the community traces back in he college days in the Philippines, she used to help student organizations and communities by strengthening their tools for empowerment.
In Hamm, the regular breakfast meeting among migrants serve as a venue to know who’s who and who’s new in the city.
During the forum new faces are introduced and will be given the chance to give insights about her country of origin for German residents to understand their plight.
After the forum, Filipino migrants who are off from work help in restoring the meeting place which is just adjacent to the church.
TIME AS COUPLE
The couple often join each other’s activity if one is free but time for church service is never compromised.
Otmar wakes up early to prepare the family meal as he understands the workload ahead of Arline. Often the childrenorganize an activity for the family.They travel around Europe during breaks.
“I know she is happy with what she is doing and we understand each other deeply because we are both involve in the different sectors of our community,” Mr. Ruther stressed.
Describing her husband as a very supportive partner and father of their children, Mrs. Ruther emphasized “We make sure that we know each other’s activity and we help each other in our chosen fields and our children understand our role and responsibility.”
The couple may have their own activities but taking coffee together in the morning and having everyone during diner is always a necessity-it was not imposed but it is one of the unwritten and unspoken rule in the Ruther family.
But, in all her busy schedules, family is the center.
The Ruther family who visited Davao last September 2017 always long to be in their mother’s native land “Everyone always look for another vacation in Davao, because there they feel they have a big family, everyone is a family. Filipino hospitality is a big thing to us, I am proud that my family considers Philippines our home,” she added.
“My world here in Hamm is …. is like my world in Davao, I serve the people, this time with a different dimension though but I kept my feet on the ground because helping people has been a vocation,” she added.
In their journey towards community development and people empowerment, the Ruther couple have each other while their children are busy in their productive years.
For a husband of a busy wife, “Often I am referred to as the husband of Mrs. Ruther,” Mr. Ruther shared “But I know Arline loves her work and I am supporting her and everyone in the house is proud of her.”
Given the glamour and status she has now, Mrs. Ruther proudly says “I am a Davaoena, with a loving husband and family, Davao is birthplace and Philippines is my native home, I am a proud Filipino.”-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph