The Woman Working for Your Family has Her Family Back Home
An increasing number of women from poor countries--particularly Ukraine--are migrating to Italy to take jobs as caregivers. But what about these womens' families back in their home countries? Arianna Sanesi gives us a personal, behind-the-scenes look at a migrant caregiver's visit home.
Italy is increasingly hiring women who come from poorer parts of the world for elder care. These caregivers are often from South America or former communist countries, and they are hired to take care of the elderly. Often times the elderly patient's family can't take on the full-time job of elder care while also working outside the home to bring in income for their families.
Many migrant caregivers are also illegal immigrants who don't get the legal protection afforded citizens. These caregivers often work below minimum wage, and they come from all over the world, including Moldovia, the Philippines, and Peru.
One of the largest groups of migrant caregivers comes from the Ukraine, where the economy is increasingly volatile, with inflation steadily rising. Ukrainians are now the fourth-largest immigrant community in Italy, and over 80 percent of Ukrainian immigrants are women. Ukrainian women come to Italy in search of caregiving work, and if they find it, they stay for years, regularly sending money back home to their families. Ukraine has seen incoming remittances increase 18-fold in the past 6 years, from $33 million in 2000 to $595 million in 2005, according to the World Bank.
Few people reflect on the fact that these women who are taking care of their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles have their own family back home. Caregivers usually send back regular remittance to their families, and their husbands and children wait months between visits.
I met Ludmilla (Lu, as she is often called) in Italy where she was working as a caregiver. During Christmas, I went with her to Ukraine, where she's from, to met her wonderful family. It had been three years since her last visit home.
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