Atikha is a non-government organization that provides economic and social services to overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines. The organization aims to help address the social cost of migration and tap the development potential of migration.
Atikha was initiated in 1995 by a group of migrant returnees, advocates and religious leaders in Laguna. It was established based on a Bread for World-funded study on the impact of migration on women. The study revealed the social cost of migration, especially on the children left behind. It also showed that many migrants are unable to save due probably to a crisis in the work site, in the family, or the migrant herself. Many come home ill prepared to face the future. Often, life has become more miserable. They are much older and have few skills. They cannot be employed nor do they have funds to start their own business.
Atikha was formally established and registered in 1996. Respected community and religious leaders, migrant returnees, sociologists and psychologists, social workers and social entrepreneurs are the people behind Atikha. The founding board was composed of Msgr. Jerry Bitoon (then Vicar General of the Diocese of San Pablo the 1st Hermit), Mother Stella Cordero, Sister Norie Santiago (head of Alay Kapwa and High School Principal of Canossa College) and four Overseas Filipino returnees, Ma. Virginia Melgar, Rebecca Martinez, Serma Chozas and Mai Dizon-Anonuevo(masters in Entrepreneurship, Asia Institute of Management).
The pilot areas of Atikha are San Pablo City in Laguna and the Municipality of Mabini in Batangas.
In the initial years, Atikha focused its work on addressing the social problems brought about by the separation of the Overseas Filipinos and their families. Atikha organizes communities of migrant families by providing psychosocial intervention to enable the community to respond to migration-related issues. It gives focus on the children of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and women. It conducted value formation, summer arts and crafts workshops for the children of overseas Filipinos in San Pablo City, Laguna. It also helped form self-help groups among the children of overseas Filipinos. Atikha believes that the social preparation of the families and the community is an important component for an effective reintegration program for migrant workers.
Atikha will continue working on the following:
- mobilizing overseas Filipino resources for the development of the Overseas Filipinos, their families and communities;
- establishing Overseas Filipino Centers that would provide economic and social services to more Overseas Filipinos, families and members of their communities; and
- assisting in developing enterprises for Overseas Filipino investment.