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 Post subject: Mothers From Sri Lanka Working Overseas
 Post Posted: Thu May 25, 2006 3:52 pm 
Mothers From Sri Lanka Working Overseas

By Kirsten Hongisto, communications manager-Asia
©2006 Christian Children's Fund


In Sri Lanka, mothers and fathers are missing. One of the biggest industries for Sri Lankan workers is not in Colombo, it’s in Lebanon, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.

Sri Lankan families are finding that one way they can combat poverty is to send family members overseas to work, and this trend is growing. More than one in twenty Sri Lankans now works abroad.

In 2004:

- Recruitment of females for foreign employment was around 63 percent of total recruitment.

- The number of Sri Lankans going to work overseas is rising. Nearly 80,000 males and over 133,000 females left to work, primarily in the Middle East.

- 52 percent of women leaving for work overseas in 2004 indicated they were going to work as housemaids.

Each day, approximately 585 Sri Lankans leave to work abroad.

In Puttalum District, between 2000 and 2004, at least 48,000 people left to work overseas. Unfortunately, while the remittances they send to their families are helpful, they are not always enough and they come with a heavy price, especially for women.

The women have virtually no protections overseas and their families are made vulnerable at home. Without a mother's presence, daughters are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and fathers more inclined toward alcohol abuse and toward extra-marital relations. The Sri Lankan women who make these sacrifices, sending money home from abroad, sometimes come home to find that husbands or other family members have wasted all the funds.

Most of the time, families send their young men and women overseas when poverty makes them feel that they have no other options. In some cases, the women are fleeing a bad situation at home in Sri Lanka.

R.D. Seelawathi is now the primary caretaker for her daughter’s two children, ten-year-old Shriyanthi and eight-year-old Harshani. Their mother, Shriyani, has gone to work in Saudi Arabia as a housemaid. Shriyani can’t come home to visit, though she writes to the family and sends money every six months. The grandmother works to help the family as well. Doing odd jobs, the grandmother can earn as much as two dollars per day.

Shriyani’s mother doesn’t want her daughter to return home out of fears for that her ex-husband might harm her, and they also need the money she sends home.

Shriyani says she feels helpless and worries about the girls growing up without their mother. “I am trying to do my best,” she says.


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