Thursday, September 21, 2006

Women and remittances

The Associated Press has a recent article about women who emigrate to find work and send money to their home country to support family members. The story featured a Salvadoran immigrant living in San Francisco:

Every two weeks, Margarita Gutierrez takes the money saved from her $7-an-hour job washing cars and sends it to her two children in El Salvador, even though her husband frets over the cost of living in their adopted home.

"As a mother, I thought first, second and last about the children, and I sent them everything I had," said Gutierrez, 45, who lives in San Francisco.

A recent United Nations Population Fund report shows that Gutierrez is not alone. Although female immigrants generally earn less than men, they tend to send home a larger portion of their earnings, playing an important role in poverty reduction and development in their countries of origin and upending many traditional mores....

Every time she calls home, Gutierrez, 45, hears about the results of her work washing over 20 cars an hour and cleaning houses on the side.

Reviewing her children's homework on the phone, going over their multiplication tables and encouraging them during the eight years she's been away from them, she's helped her son, who was 10 when she left, graduate from high school, and her daughter, who was 15, finish law school.

Her money has kept them fed, clothed, and focused on their studies - her goal when she left her hometown of Usulutan, El Salvador.

There have been days when she had to eat at soup kitchens and live in shared quarters, but she didn't mind.

"At least I had the satisfaction of knowing my daughter was going to the university," she said.


El-Visitador said...

What integrity this woman has!

Stories like this is why I say that today's crime wave does not arise from poverty; it arises from a social crisis of values.

Let's never demean this woman by saying that El Salvador is violent because of poverty.

Anonymous said...

Poverty both of mind, conscience, and the pocket affet the asecandance of crime in this country. What I'm trying to say, that the corrupt government officials are greedy bastards with poor mind and coscience, even sociopatic to the degree that they can rationalize murder.

While the poor, are victims of an unjust society, so this may contribute on them falling into opportunism. Add to the mix a corrupt, poor, apathetic, unjust society, and you definately have a crisis of values.

With regards of the story, I believe it is great the woman has done. But I cannot ignore the circumastances in which he has done it, which may aswell speak greater of the woman, but it is a pity that she has to do all she has done in a very xenophobic society, and wasn't exactly capable of doing it in her country due to the retrograde society and way of governance that rule.

They day that the bulk of the population can issue triumphant yells of how they've worked hard, earned their well-deserved money, have their homes in their country, and atop of that pay the education of their children... All of this in their own country, as it should be. Then that would be a glorious day.

Until then, she is the classic example of a personthat was abandoned by his country/government had to go to exile, and from exile has done everything possible to provide for those she left behind. A tragic hero.


El Vis, I think the poverty and the crisis of values go hand in hand. In a previous post many moons ago, you pointed to the crime in the U.S. in past decades, where the U.S. is obviously not a poor country. But, even in the U.S., is it any coincidence that crime occurs in areas that are economically depressed. It's not that poverty is an excuse for crime, or that we are accuse the poor of being criminals. It's that when families are poor, and have to work so much, they don't have time to be families, and create the values that you correctly identify as keys to fighting poverty. I speak from experience because I was raised by a Mom much like the woman in the story. My mother worked three jobs, seven days a week, from before sunrise until long after sunset. She put food on our table, and because she had to spend so much of her waking time meeting our basic needs, she had no time for anything else. My brother dropped out of school and got on drugs for a while: no parental supervision. My stepbrother knocked up some girl and today is unhappy, drinks, doesn't feel he amounted to anything. My other stepbrother died in jail because of drug dealing. (Don't ask me how I escaped a similar fate.) I'm telling you: poverty is a killer, and we should have a much lower tolerance for it, beginning with a frank recognition that it does great harm to the social fabric, and the values that you're interested in.

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