“Families without Borders” – A campaign to help children left behind in Moldova
“My dear mommy, my dear daddy, take care of yourselves, I miss you a lot, and I’m really sorry you are not next to me and that I haven’t seen you in a long time. I don’t want presents, I just want you to be healthy and happy, and next to me. I love you!”
– A 14-year old girl’s message to her parents that work abroad.
This girl and about 3000 other children from Moldova participated in psychosocial group activities that we organized within the national information campaign “Families without Borders”. The campaign is carried out by Terre des hommes Moldova, with the support of the Netherlands Embassy, aiming to help children, parents, the child protection professionals and the entire society to cope with the challenges related to the protection of children whose parents work abroad.
Migration is a well-known phenomenon to the Moldovan people. It is believed that one-fifth to more than one-quarter of the country’s population now lives abroad. As a result of labour migration, 270’000 children under 14 years of age are left behind by one or both parents. According to a survey conducted within the campaign, 48% of the children interviewed claimed to have one or both parents working abroad.
Due to less supervision and greater emotional challenges, children whose parents work abroad are more vulnerable and at risk of self-isolation, fear, anxiety, insomnia, integration issues, violence, school drop-out and other severe issues.
Our “Families without Borders” campaign raises awareness and aims at reducing the negative effects that migration can have on children. The campaign – including activities and informative material – provides useful and practical advice on how to maintain a sound relationship between children and the parents working abroad. Core messages of the campaign include the way children perceive their parents’ absence, their understanding of the situation, their needs and expectations.
“The economic situation of our country is very difficult and many people have no other option than to work abroad, in order to provide a living and education for our children. We cannot stop migration, but during this activity I’ve learned that parents should speak openly with their children before going abroad, ask their opinion. We should prepare them emotionally for this. My husband works abroad, I will encourage him to speak more often with our son”, mentioned the mother of a 10-year old boy, who participated – among other 2000 parents and caregivers – in our psychosocial group activities.
The campaign reached hundreds of thousands of people through public events and media, while giving recommendations for parents and professionals, sensitizing the society at large and changing their attitudes toward children left behind.
Photo credit: © Tdh/Igor Lupu