Leaving my daughter for a journey overseas

Ana Margaret is part of Future Voices programme in partnership with The Voice of Domestic Workers. Future Voices is a unique leadership programme which works with migrant domestic workers to become spokespeople and speak out against the issues that their community face.

Ten years ago, I made the hard choice to work far from home, leaving my daughter with my husband to earn money for the security of our future. Even though we have separated by distance, our love and bond remains strong.

I gave birth when I was 38 years old; an age when I thought I would not be able to have children. I said to myself that if I had a child, I would give them my very best. God sent me this wonderful daughter who completed my life.

She was 18 months old when I had my first overseas job in Saudi Arabia. She was staring at me and hugging me, holding my hands when we were approaching the airport. I also remember when my daughter got an award for being the top student in Science. Despite the fact that I am not always around her, she has still made me proud. 

Everytime I leave for abroad, I see sadness in her face. As a mom, it’s so very hard to leave again and work overseas. It’s a good thing we have new technologies like social media platforms that help us connect and communicate with each other easily, compared to before when we could only communicate through phone calls and mail.

Through video calls and messages, we have stayed connected, sharing her joys and challenges. I cheered for her achievements, celebrated her milestones,and comforted her during tough times.

As a mother, my daughter’s success is my success too. Success comes from the person’s determination, from a person achieving their goals one by one, like me. I provided my daughter’s basic needs like food, clothes, shelter and education. I’m proud of my daughter for always staying true to herself and never compromising her values. She values the time I spend when we are chatting via Zoom, and she supports my participation in the Voice of Domestic Workers, a support network and campaign organisation run by and for migrant domestic workers. Just as I am proud of her achievements, she is proud of mine.

After a decade of my absence, I am thinking about this journey of life with my daughter. Since I left her at the age of 18 months, there have been so many opportunities and experiences that I have missed, like the daily routines of playing, singing, and reading and talking to her. It is a melancholy experience to leave my child for the sake of our future. I have often wondered, if I could just turn back time, I could fulfil my role as a mother to my child. I always cherish the time I have spent with her. Although it was limited, it was wonderful.

But I have never regretted pursuing my job as a domestic helper. Gradually, I can say that I am beginning to provide for my daughter’s wants and needs. A simple wish for my family is an answered prayer from God. Despite the distance, the sacrifices were worthwhile.The financial support from working abroad ensured my daughter had a good education and promising opportunities.

Even though I am many miles away from my daughter, my advice to her is to keep dreaming, and to keep working hard. I remind her that ambition needs action. As her mother, I am always there to guide, support and love her in my own little way. Looking back, I am proud of my daughter’s resilience and success. Our story proves that love knows no distance, and a mother’s love can shape a child’s journey, even when oceans keep us apart. 

About the Author 

Ana Margaret was born in Manila, Philippines. She went to work abroad to secure a better life for her daughter, and worked for ten years in Saudi Arabia as a nanny and housekeeper. Joining The Voice of Domestic Workers has had a big impact on her and has opened her eyes as to how important organisations like these are to domestic workers who escape dangerous situations. Ana Margaret is part of the Future Voices Programme, a leadership programme run in partnership between Sounddelivery Media and the Voice of Domestic Workers to develop a network of domestic workers as confident public spokespeople to advocate for themselves and their community.

In her spare time Ana loves to chitchat with her daughter and family in the Philippines, hearing about daughter’s day to day activity in school, life as a teenager and exciting moments. Ana loves to cook and eat healthy food during her free time. She dances every day, and goes to church every week.

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