When a Filipino woman leaves her family to work abroad as a domestic worker/nanny, she knows it will be years before she will see her own children again.
The looming years of separation offer no teary-eyed, last minute good-byes at the airport.
Farewells are risky and not to be indulged. It will only allow guilt to set in.
“I really did not want my girls to come and see me off. Only my husband came,” said Leilani, a domestic worker and caregiver in Taiwan. “I knew they would just cling to me and we would just end up crying. How could I ever leave them?”
Sometimes good-bye in any form is too painful.
“We have stories of mothers who just told their children they were going to the market, but got on a plane and never came back,” said Luila Garcia, a field officer of Atikha, an NGO that promotes financial literacy among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families.
“These mothers don’t do it to be cruel. They just don’t know how to say good-bye.”
Image and text by Ana P. Santos, via Instagram. Philippines, 2014.
Ana, our Persephone Miel Fellow for 2014, working on a project about the tens of thousands of Filipino women who leave their families to find work abroad. Roughly 10 percent, or $18.6BN of the Philippines GDP comes from remittances sent home by migrant workers. Almost half of the migrant workers from the Philippines are women, filling vacancies in the service sector mostly as nannies and domestic helpers.