When Home and Work are Separated by Hundreds of Miles

Photographer Arianna Sanesi submitted a photo essay to Economica that's really gotten under my skin. Arianna's photo essay, "Ludmilla's Story," captures a Ukrainian woman named Ludmilla who returns home from working as an elder caregiver in Italy to see her family in the Ukraine for the first time in three years.

Can you imagine going three years without seeing your family? This is one of those sacrifices that women around the world make all the time. I'll often complain about a 30 minute commute, or how hard it is to visit parents or friends who live in other parts of the country. "I haven't seen them in months!" I'll complain. Of course, Ludmilla's sacrifice is for her family. She sends a portion of her earnings back home every month, and some of the money she sends back was used to help pay for her daughter's wedding. It's a difficult position to be in--one many middle class American women (like me) will likely never face.

Apparently the trend of hiring migrant careworkers is growing in Italy, where families have the resources to pay for carework, and no time to take on the job themselves. Apparently the Ukrainian immigrant population in Italy is growing exponentially as a result of this demand--Ukraine was particularly hurt by the economic crisis, and the country's current inflation rate is nearing 17%. This seems to be just another iteration of that classic economic concept of supply and demand--Ukraine has the supply of unemployed women caregivers, and Italy has the demand for this kind of skilled labor. But the emotional and personal impact of this harsh economic reality is still mind boggling.

Economica: Women and the Global Economy [The International Museum of Women]
Ludmilla's Story [Economica]