The perceptions of the foreign workers in Israel and in every country who use the services of the foreign workers are very specific and narrow:
- The need for someone to care and nurse the elderly and disabled
- The requirements to get the foreign caregiver
- The rules, laws and regulations
Therefore we find a very little reference concerning the feelings of those workers and their subsequent experience as strangers in a strange land
Who are you – foreign workers?
The term foreign worker refers to any person who is not a citizen or a resident of a country who arrives in a certain place for the purpose of working. At the end of 2014 in Israel, there were about 75,000 legal foreign workers (in various sectors) while in Canada in the same year there were 166,000 legal foreign workers. This article is a reference for those legal foreign workers. Foreign workers come from different countries but a considerate portion comes mostly from Asia (Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, China, etc.).
What does it mean – being a foreign worker?
We have to remember that foreign worker arrives in a certain country in order to work and to provide for his family. Usually in most countries the period of work is limited. Therefore, the foreign worker does not receive any help from the government when it comes to effective and successful absorption (assumes that no country wants them to stay). Without assistance, the starting point for the foreign worker is hard and complicated: foreign country, different language, culture, weather and on top of it he is all by himself.
And one last thing, many of the foreign workers are engaged in a work that they are not trained for. A job that might be the easiest to get, not the one they chose and the one that they desire.
Along with what has been described, the foreign worker begins his work with the concern of the economic situation of his family, for his survival in the country and worry regarding his legal status.
The story of ‘M’
‘M’ is from the Philippines, she got married at the age of 22 and by the age of 25 she had 2 kids. During that time she and her husband had a small grocery shop. After 4 years of struggling with their financial status ‘M’ and her husband decided that she should go to work in another country as a caregiver for couple of years. In that way she could provide a financial stability to her family, good education for her children and proper medical care for her parents. All the family got together in order to loan her the money for the process and within a year she left the country to try her luck in Israel. The separation from her family was very hard on ‘M’ and she spent the whole flight crying. Her older son who just turned 7 was angry at her for leaving and wouldn’t even say goodbye while her daughter couldn’t stop crying.
The first year in Israel was tough, she missed her family but ‘M’ was very lucky she had a good employer, though the job was hard but she liked it. She felt needed and loved, as the employer was like her second mother and she loved taking care of her. Unfortunately, due to the medical and health condition of ‘M’s employer she was not allowed to go on vacation every year and throughout her employment period (7 years) she was able to visit her family in the Philippines only once..
After seven years of employment ‘M’ managed to pay back the loans, provided education for her children and bought a house for her and for her parents.
‘M’ story is one of many, and unlike her not everyone is lucky enough to find a good employer. Many of them find themselves wandering around with different employers. Furthermore, returning home can be complicated and difficult for them as they need to readjust to a new life setting.
How can we ease the process?
The answer to that question should be divided in half: the first half should be addressed to the employers and the second half should address the foreign worker. This article will address to the foreign workers.
Some tips will help you to adjust better and cope with the difficulties of working in a foreign country:
- Before traveling prepare your family (especially children) to your departure. Help them understand that you are doing it for them. Though it might be hard at the beginning, let them know that you will come back and provide them with a better future.
- Try to find a common community, people like you who came to the country for work. People with the same ground, language and culture. All this will help you not to feel alone in a strange land.
- Money is not everything, even though there is a temptation in working non-stop 24/7 for the purpose of higher salary, but the holidays and days off are very important. Rest day is necessary to prevent burnout and to maintain good mental health.
- Training and learning – every job in every sector becomes easier and more interesting when there is proper training. Check for options regarding training and learning programs in the field in which you will work. Moreover, qualified people can receive higher salaries.