Young South Africans working overseas are nowadays more the rule than the exception and almost every family is effected by this trend. Since 1994 South Africans enjoy opportunities for international travel that did not exist in the past, but the country suffers high levels of unemployment and the government’s policy of affirmative action limits the employment potential of white people.
Our unemployed children have transcended these limitations and broadened their horizons beyond the borders and confines of South Africa and found employment in all countries of the globe.
Both my children are working overseas. My daughter is in Korea and my son in China. They are both teaching English in small remote villages, but to my amazement they found other South Africans already working there.
There is almost not a place in the world where you do not find a South African presence.
Young people working abroad gain independence, maturity, experience and the opportunity to save money, but most parents and families find the absence of their children a challenge. We are concerned about their safety and well being in the unknown. Certain countries in Africa and the Middle East pose a definite threat. My son is a photographer and very inquisitive. I had to talk him out of his plans to photograph people in an opium-smoking house. In a country like China, especially the rural areas, the people do not speak any or little English and you do not know the laws and politics. You have to be careful – and as a parent you cannot be there to assist.
It is not about us and our fears and emotions. We have to accept and support their adventure, keep regular contact with them and send a care parcel with some home goodies. We have to be involved in their adventure and at the same time share with them what’s happening at home. Keep them in the family loop. I communicate with my children every day.
The grandparents find it difficult because they often don’t have the technology to communicate with the children. My mother is 84 years old and is concerned that she might never see her grandchildren again. A year’s absence is a long time when you are older. She writes long letters to them, which they enjoy. They share emotions and communicate issues with each other, something that did not happen when they were home.
Success to our pioneer children that live without boundaries.