Thursday, 18 April, 2024

Parents babysitting abroad suffer in solitude


By Manjima Dhakal

Kathmandu, Sept. 22: Many Nepalese parents who go abroad for babysitting their newborn grandchildren are often forced to suffer in solitude as a result of their ignorance of the country’s system, language and social mores.
The children who invite their parents to look after their newborns do not have enough time to spend with them, making the parents’ stay a suffocating one.
For fulfilling their responsibility many parents are going overseas to babysit their grandchildren without getting any payment. Many parents say that after spending some months, they start feeling suffocated in the unknown countries.
In Nepal, there is a popular term, ‘Tel Visa’ that is used for denoting the parents going abroad only for babysitting the new born grandchildren, because their sons and daughters who invite them are too busy doing their jobs. Sabina Bhatta, a Nepali student studying in Canberra of Australia, said she came across many Nepali grandparents sobbing in parks and share their difficult times and problems with other Nepalis.
According to Bhatta, many parents have been facing language problems and are unaware about the system of country they have visited and they don’t get chance to spend more time with their children. These parents are the ones who are found crying in the parks.
Rama Dhungana, a retired lecturer of a public campus in Chitwan, who has been staying in the USA for the past five years, said majority of parents who come to look after their son’s babies face more troubled times in comparison to their daughter’s. “I met a couple from Kaski at plane last year while returning to Nepal from the USA. Both of them were sobbing and had vowed never to go back to the USA even if their son will call again.
They feel that their 17 month stay in the USA was like a jail life. They said that the behavior of the daughter-in-law made their life quite troubled. She never wanted to talk with them who never took picture with them during their stay in the USA to look after the baby.”
Some children even feel that their parents don’t need to expect much from them as they have brought them in the developed country, Dhungana added.However, the status of all parents are not same. The parents who are educated can familiarize them with the language and system of the country allowing them to spend enjoyable life abroad.
Home Nath Chalise, social gerontologist, said some women who went abroad for babysitting for their new grandchildren would earn some money as they could utilize the time for looking after babies of other Nepali parents of the community, while husbands would also work outside to make money during their leisure time. These couples think that the time they spend for babysitting is a time for making some extra money too.
According to Chalise, mainly retired officers have been spending enjoyable time.Sunita Rai, a researcher, said children invite their parents overseas because they find it easy to get visit visa while they expect babies. Otherwise, the difficult visa policy of the countries will not allow many of them to invite their parents in other times.
This is a story of majority middle-class family of Nepal. Parents are compelled to go abroad to look after their grandchildren while their children who have gone on a student’s visa want to settle in the same country. The government however has no record of the parents going abroad in ‘Tel Visa’. But the Ministry of Education Science and Technology says on an average per day 164 Nepali students receive no objection letter for going abroad for higher education. In the last nine years, 300,000 students received no objection letter from MOEST. Japan, Australia and America are major destinations of the Nepali students.
Many parents who don’t have longer stay plan abroad and want to stay in Nepal are not sure about they would be looked after by their children. Other parents who have returned to find themselves in the same situation.
Mira Ghimire, who has been babysitting her new born granddaughter for six months said that it was her responsibility to look after the grandchildren. “Whether my children will look after me in my old age depends on them. Let’s leave it to them,” she added.
Researhcer Rai said majority of senior citizens staying at five old age homes of the Kathmandu Valley were the ones whose children were staying overseas.
Meanwhile, Chalise said many children are sent abroad by their parents for sake of social prestige. However, the same prestige becomes a burden after children fail to return in the time of need, he said.
“The trend of going abroad has been moving towards the middle class family from the higher class. So, the parents who expected care from their children in last phase of their life really get shocked,” Chalise said.
The government must be serious to develop and set up old-age homes where senior citizens get engage in different works and share their feeling with other senior citizens, Chalise added.