On the streets of London, it isn’t hard to find people who work hard all day (or all night) only to send a sizeable proportion of their income halfway round the world to support a family back home.
Some are maids, cleaners or nurses, others work in retail or construction. All recognise that £100 usually goes a lot further in the developing world than it does here.
“I can’t afford much,” says Nativity Eyan Nyieng, 33, a Guinean national who works as a maid in King’s Cross. “But when I can, I send about £100 now and then to my little sister in my home country for her studies.”
It is not just family members who are taken care of. Bibiche Aiala, a journalist from Congo, sends up to £127 a month to a friend living in China. Male, an Indian national, gives £50 to £60 a month to a charity back home run by a friend.
Cousins Hayat and Mohammad Jabarkhyl moved to the UK from Afghanistan four years ago. Mohammad’s wife also left Afghanistan, with the couple’s seven children, aged seven to 14. They could not follow him to the UK and now live in Peshawar, Pakistan.
“I can only afford to send a little money to my wife,” says Mohammad. “Perhaps £50 or £100 every few months.”
Like many women in the region, Mohammad’s wife does not work and relies on the little money he can send.
He wishes he could send more, but his earnings from the fruit and vegetable stall he runs in Peckham, south London, only just cover his rent of £800 a month.
Chimesie Osifi, 40, who runs an internet cafe in Peckham, sends between £500 and £1,000 to his family in Nigeria several times a year.
“I try to send money every month or six weeks. Most of it goes to my mum,” he says. “This money is a lot to me, but my mum has done so much for me that I want to send it to her.”
He plans to return to Nigeria in the next three or four years and go into politics. “Nigeria is going through difficult times and we need to contribute to the wellbeing of the country. No matter how small, we should all contribute.” GNS