The UAE has long been the preferred nation of expats across the globe, as it has successfully created a home for a diverse population of many religions that co-exist peacefully.
The country has made it easy for Filipina church leader Vilma de Mesa to help spread the word of God to her kababayans.
Since her arrival in the UAE in 1981, she has found her calling in the service of Filipinos, and is now considered as the longest-serving church worker and leader at Filipino Christian Church in Abu Dhabi. She has been working for the church since 1993, noting that the government ensured their rights are provided and that they receive equal respect.
“The UAE is being used by God not only for religious tolerance but for global understanding and unity in regard to faith and/or religion. In an Islamic country like UAE, women gained more freedom in expressing themselves in any area of life,” she said.
She furthered that during the pandemic, she managed to continue sharing the word through social media – a platform that breaks barriers created by the necessity of social distancing: “The pandemic has placed everyone on equal footing – no rich or poor, educated or not, male or female, etc. so I saw the chance to be bolder in speaking up for what I think is needed not only to survive this global catastrophe, but to emerge better and stronger people through the realizations this pandemic has taught us. Praise God that I am able to do this mainly through the social media platforms.”
The UAE is known as a staunch torchbearer of tolerance and inclusion, providing everyone with the opportunity to celebrate and observe their own traditions through legal frameworks, policies and procedures aimed at ensuring the freedom to practice religious rituals and building places of worship for people from all faiths—including Christianity, which comprises 12.6 percent of the UAE’s population.
De Mesa lauded the UAE’s forward-looking perspective as a place where people of different beliefs are celebrated: “The UAE is being used by God not only for religious tolerance but for global understanding and unity in regard to faith and/or religion. In an Islamic country like UAE, women gained more freedom in expressing themselves in any area of life, as long as they do not contradict UAE values and traditions in their personal and national pursuits.”
“The essence of being a woman is her inner strength in handling life with her innate resiliency and desire to be accommodating instead of domineering – qualities which enhance her strength without diminishing her worth or value as a human being. To my fellow female OFWs here and around the world—our migration, however people look at it, is the perfect avenue for the world to know the Filipinos as a multi-faceted people that are capable and considerate, industrious but unassuming, and an asset more than a liability. Let us keep raising our flag through our lives wherever we are and can be,” she added.