Saturday, September 10, 2011

Expats winging our way to visit South Africa

A bit of an Irony really.
Whilst the world flies in to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup, we are flying back to meet our precious new little  *mokopuna/ grand daughter, and to see our other family - our sons, daughters in law and grand kids  !
 (* mokopuna - Maori name for g.kid. )
RWC aside, there has been a count down to this since the tickets were booked and paid for positively months ago !

It is, was and always will be the hardest part about emigrating - being severed from loved ones. I cried a bit in the first year (after the honey moon was over), a little more maybe in the second year and now I am stronger, but still cry, mostly when it is full moon !

Emigration ain't for ninnies... the severance from all that is familiar; roots, identity, friends, family, culture, places, people.... some people just can't bring themselves to do it, others can't (due to not meeting eligibility criteria based on points, not having the money to fly over and start again, or the qualifications to find work, else not passing the health or police clearance tests.) It is for them I feel sad. Those that have a choice can choose to stay in their country or to leave. At any given time there are 20 million refugees moving to safer places. 

And at any given time there are also millions of people emigrating from one country to another on this crazy 
merry- go -round planet which we inhabit! 

I'm told that there are now over 50 million people in South Africa. 
And that 100,000 South Africans are now living in New Zealand, whether as citizens, residents or on work permits, with an average of three families arriving daily. 

Some go back as they find the adaptation too hard and others go back if they can't find work. About 70 % succeed in settling and starting a new life. Some settle in little 'clans' and don't integrate with other cultures much, possibly as English isn't their mother tongue. They are inclined to settle in parts of Auckland which pretty much become Saffer suburbs ! Others settle in other areas depending on where their place of employment is and so make friends with people from various cultures, maybe through their work, as I have done to a degree. (We thankfully have a daughter, son in law and two grand kids in walking distance- well almost if I put on my walking boots!), plus some Saffer mates/relations and mates from NZ, Oz, UK, Europe, India, Korea etc.
But of course we miss the family 'back home' and the siblings and mates from years and years of forged friendships, plus some old haunts and favourite places, the countryside, the beach, Berg and the bushveld.

People ask ' Will you come back to live ?' I ask  ' Would you if you had finally settled and adapted pretty well and loved the sense of freedom and were also a support system to your daughter and family who had also emigrated and had no other family here ?'

And ' Would you if you felt the crime in SA had not improved sufficiently to label it a safe place to live ....' 

And 'Would you if you felt that in some small way you were creating a pathway for others to join you if the going got tough ?' 

And so that is my answer for now. It remains rhetorical.

We see ourselves as trailblazers and are proud of the sacrifices we've made. I also feel incredibly privileged to have been in a work milieu where I have learnt so much in the past three years. I would not have learnt what I have learnt in the field of behavioural psychology had I not come here to work. I only wish I had more time to use my resources, skills and knowledge to help others; particularly parents and teachers.

But I truly can't advise any of you. It's a long road. It requires a lot of 'balls'...either way; staying in a land where it ain't as safe 'n hunky dory as it ought to be for future generations, else leaving a land that forms one's identity; that still has a magnetic pull, great allure and passion....
And now I must ponder on what to pack ....!!

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