Migrant workers work abroad for one reason – money. The majority of us are our family’s breadwinner, and so we seek greener pastures to fulfill our financial obligations.
Money is something we can control. We give our time and energy in exchange for money; however, in the process we lose time; time with our loved ones. If we lose money we can earn it back; if we lose time it is gone forever.
For migrant workers, time away from our families cannot be replaced by the money we send home – while we are providing them with everything they need we are depriving them of what really matters – our time. It is a sad reality that many overseas workers only go back to their own country a few times a year; some have to wait many years before returning to their families.
In that time there are numerous birthdays, anniversaries and Christmases missed. Parents miss their child’s first step, first word, and first day at school. They don’t get the opportunity to teach them to read and write, or to see them get ready for prom.
“Life is made up of priceless moments; moments that you will miss if you are trading your time for money. Miss too many of them and you might start to wonder what it is you are really working for.” – Tony Robbins
Technology is a wonderful thing, and there is no denying that innovations such as Skype and Facetime have made it much easier to communicate with those back home. However, in my experience nothing can replace a warm hug from my mom when I have had a stressful day at work, and there is nothing worse than when you are having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one and the Internet connection fails. Many parents have had to watch their daughters and sons grow up over Skype, which is heartbreaking. I know of young parents who have left their babies in the care of family members so they can work abroad; many believing they have no choice.
We can all say it is because we want to do the best we can for our families; to help lift them out of poverty and give them the life they deserve, but in reality the answer is really quite simple: We don’t know any better.
I have spent many years working with Filipinos who migrate overseas in the hope of becoming rich, and in that time I have made observations and learnt many interesting things that have led me to the conclusion that it is our behavior that has to change.