Lessons

Psychological Effects on Migrant Workers

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There are an estimated 9 million Filipino children with one or both parents working overseas as a labor migrant. Image by Geric Cruz. Philippines, 2015.

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When his wife left to work overseas, Meljohn Manguerra had to take on being both father and mother to their children. The most difficult for him was coping with the everyday things without having a co-parent at his side. "I missed having my wife around to talk to about raising our children," he said. Image by Geric Cruz. Philippines, 2014.

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The Velonza Sisters always meet up on a Friday to bond and catch up with one another. They always have a set dress code. On this particular afternoon, one of them violated it and will have to pay 200 dirhams as a fine. Image by Jo Kearney. UAE, 2015.

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Au Pair

Au pair Lucila Espinosa Milay checks her receipt as she walks through a row of money transfer businesses after wiring part of her paycheck to siblings back in the Philippines, at Central Station in Copenhagen. Milay pays the school fees for several of her eight siblings back home, sending money every 15 days. Remittances are a huge economic driver in the Philippines. Image by Allison Shelley. Philippines, 2016.

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Dhurba B.K. attends a gathering of Nepalese migrant workers in Doha, Qatar. B.K. is one of about 400,000 Nepalese workers there, many of whom struggled with whether to stay after an April 2015 earthquake damaged huge portions of Nepal. Image by Shilu Manandar. Qatar, 2016.

Dhurba B.K. attends a gathering of Nepalese migrant workers in Doha, Qatar. B.K. is one of about 400,000 Nepalese workers there, many of whom struggled with whether to stay after an April 2015 earthquake damaged huge portions of Nepal. Image by Shilu Manandhar. Qatar, 2016.

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Tirtha Raj Tamang, a Nepalese migrant worker, says he was exploited by a Nepalese company that sent him to work in Qatar. He was photographed in Doha, Qatar's capital city. Image by Shilu Manandhar. Qatar, 2016.

Tirtha Raj Tamang, a Nepalese migrant worker, says he was exploited by a Nepalese company that sent him to work in Qatar. He was photographed in Doha, Qatar's capital city. Image by Shilu Manandhar. Qatar, 2016.

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Image via Flickr Commons, 2011.

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Maribeth Manguerra is home from her third overseas contract to attend the graduation of two her children. She wants to leave again, but her husband and her children want her to stay so they can at last be a complete family. Image by Geric Cruz. Philippines, 2014.

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The Velonza Sisters came to Dubai one by one. The sisters who arrived first helped fund the airfare and visas of those who followed. At one point, there were 8 Velonza siblings in Dubai. Image by Jo Kearney. UAE, 2015.

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Neth Manguerra is the eldest child and "Ate" or big sister of the Manguerra Family. When her mother left, she took on managing the home and taking care of her younger siblings. Image by Geric Cruz. Philippines, 2014.

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The Velonza Sisters from L-R: Maricel, Perla, Gloria, Nida and Mayra. Seven of the thirteen Velonza children work in Dubai as nannies. Image by Jo Kearney. UAE, 2015.

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Jomar Manguerra and his older sister, Neth, have made a promise to their Mama and Papa: They will put off getting married so they can work and put their younger siblings through school. That way, their Mama won't have to work abroad anymore. Image by Geric Cruz. Philippines, 2014.

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JohbeAnn Manguerra was too young to remember anything about her Mama leaving to work abroad. "I just remember feeling that Mama had left me," she said. Image by Geric Cruz. Philippines, 2014.

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Jam-Jam Manguerra, the youngest in the family, was about a year-old when her mother left for another overseas contract. She is now 7-years-old, but for most part of her life, Jam-Jam has grown up without her mother. Image by Geric Cruz. Philippines, 2014.

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Johbeann Manguerra graduates high school with high honors with her mother finally present. Image by Geric Cruz. Philippines, 2014.

First, students should watch the short documentary "For Mama" to get an idea of the types of families that this trend affects and what the focus of the lesson will be. They should also look through the other documents in the resources section to get a better understanding of the different forms that this migrant working phenomenon can take.

Then, Students should look through some of the following studies that show the psychological impact of the trend on families and workers alike:

Correlates of psychological wellbeing of children of migrant workers in Shanghai, China

Psychological distress among Thai migrant workers in Israel

Mental wellbeing amongst younger and older migrant workers in comparison to their urban counterparts in Guangzhou city, China: a cross-sectional study

Students should then break into small groups to have a discussion on the different ways in which migrant working can affect the psychological health of workers and their family members. Each group should come up with a plan to try and improve the situation of migrant workers, either through a policy proposal, ideas for an NGO, or some other method. 

 
Educator Notes: 

This lesson covers some of the psychological impacts that affect Migrant Workers and their families. In particular, the lesson uses the journalistic work of Ana P. Santos, who follows the struggles of Filipino migrant workers and their families. Migrant workers travel very far from their homes to find work in other regions/countries in order to help keep their families financially stable. Although they can send money back home to help, these migrant workers are separated from their familes for years, leaving some without mothers or fathers. Educators who are interested in teaching about the trend of migrant workers could find use in this lesson plan. Some adaptations to the lesson plan could include adding resources about migrant working experiences outside of the Phillipines to broaden the scope of this important issue.

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