BEING far away from home has made many people creative and self-sufficient. The cruel atmosphere of a foreign land has brought out hitherto unknown capabilities. Finding themselves far from the support systems of home and friends, people here have had to be innovative to address the numerous challenges they face.
Unfortunately, many have had to compromise in ways more painful than comforting. Many have taken up jobs they would never have considered back home.
If people in the Diaspora are to return to Zimbabwe, they will significantly contribute to the economy as their work ethics have tremendously changed.
They are no longer ‘picky’ when it comes to jobs. For them, what is important is having something to do as long as it gives them income. What has become important is survival.
According to Susan Mpofu, a PhD student in the UK: “Working abroad has serious effects for creativity.” She describes how it requires ingenuity to work; sometimes as a baby sitter, attend university, pay high fees and also send money home.
One has no option but to work to survive. There are very few, if any, benefits for foreigners. The disadvantage of life abroad is the absence of social safety nets. In the Diaspora, people are facing new norms and approaches to problems which are totally different to those experienced back home.
For instance, when it comes to childcare back home, there is the extended family which ensures that looking after one’s children is never a burden. Same applies to looking after one’s parents abroad.
As Africans, we can never put them in old people’s homes but this is sometimes the only option one is faced with. So overwhelmed are the people in the Diaspora that some have lost their faith while others have become church fanatics.
That extra set of resources one takes for granted home is absent, people have to look up to themselves and God. Sadly, one is forced to take what is available and not necessarily what is best; hence cases of highly qualified people ending up doing menial jobs. For survival one ends up settling for literally anything.
My friend was a senior magistrate back home but now he is an executive environmental health director — simply put, a cleaner.
“I value this broom because it pays my rent and indeed looks after the guys at home,” he says. My other friend, formely a headmaster, is now an area recycling co-ordinator – otherwise known as a garbage collector (matanyera).
What is most important is that it pays the bills. People who are abroad have become more humble than those back home. Jobs that they would never consider doing are the ones that are keeping them alive here in the UK. The strictness and harsh conditions abroad teach people to settle for whatever puts food on the table.
It is not the ideal life, especially considering the qualifications of some of these people. Pride has therefore been swallowed for expediency.
It is a brutal reality that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora face.
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