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Film on Ukrainian Labour Migrants Screened in Germany

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09.01.12
Anya Fiks, editor at the German 3 Sat television station, who recently presented the film Village of Forgotten Children notes: “Maryana’s mother (one of the leading roles) works in Europe as do nearly 3 million other people. They left Ukraine to earn money for subsistence in a foreign country. Many Ukrainian mothers left their homeland to turn their time and love into money in a distant land so that they could give the children they left behind a better future. But what does this really mean for the children of labour migrants, and how does this event affect their future?

These mothers and children are part of the worldwide network Global Care Chain which offers them some support. German women support and offer jobs to illegal women workers from Eastern Europe who have left their own children and elderly parents to be cared for by other family members or acquaintances. However, this does not fundamentally change the situation of labour migration for Ukrainians.”

Village of Forgotten Children’s screenwriter Katya Shupp believes that love and time are the new resources of poor countries, they are critical and they are exploited by industrially developed countries, especially Germany. The worse the labourer’s legal status the more problems they have; without a valid visa, women don’t dare return home for years, they don’t see their children or parents and because of this many families fall apart.

In the end, only letters sent by mothers to their children can bridge the distance and cross borders. Young Daryna sent her mother Olya, an illegal labourer in Germany the following letter: “Dearest mom, I would love to wake up in my own bed to find you near. You say that life will get easier. Maybe, but right now I’m having a hard time. You are the most precious thing that I have! No one can ever take your place. Love, kisses and hugs to you.” Daryna’s final school celebration was a very lonely affair. SKYPE was the only way she could show her mother the dress she bought for her prom, because Olya is in Germany illegally.

Laws on migrant workers in Europe vary from country to country. When Italy, Spain, and Portugal open their doors and offer legal residence to those who can earn a living, Germany closes its hatches. Only highly paid and highly qualified professionals are invited to Germany—those who care for children or the elderly are regarded as unnecessary.

Ms. Shupp, the mother of three children was a labour migrant. Her personal experiences convinced her that it is nearly impossible to obtain a work permit to care for children and offer a flexible schedule with decent pay. She approaches local and high ranking officials for help and to share her experience. Her conclusion: politicians also believe that Germany desperately needs immigrants who are ready to work for low pay, but nonetheless, practically nothing changes in the country.

Ms. Shupp feels that the name of the film, Village of Forgotten Children, emphasizes the ignored aspects of labour migration in Europe. The film illustrates many pressing problems created by labour migration—mothers living apart from their children for many years, children being reared by grandparents who although dedicated, are overloaded and yet must bring up an entire generation of Ukrainian children. The film also details how a person without appropriate documents or passport crosses the German border. Village of Forgotten Children is based on interviews with people who have intimate knowledge of labour migration, not from media reports or official speeches.

You can read more about the film or view it here.

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