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Strawberry orphans

[ 2009-03-12 09:38]     字号 [] [] []  
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Strawberry orphans

Nancy Matos

Reader question: What does “strawberry orphans” mean in western countries?

My comments: A strawberry orphan is a term used for children of migrants whose parents have left them to find work in another country. A true orphan is a child who has become parentless after the death of their parents.

Sociologists came up with the term “strawberry orphans” based on the fact that many of these parents leave their homelands to work at laborious jobs such as strawberry picking and housecleaning. It is especially common in Romania, where it is estimated that 170,000 children have one or both parents working abroad, according to a recent study by the Soros Foundation.

The attraction of these parents leaving home to work in another country is the same as the reasons why China has a large migrant population in cities like Beijing: to make more money. A mother could make three times her monthly salary as a housecleaner in Italy, for example, than at her usual job in a poorer country like Romania. Children in Romania are particularly feeling the pain of being strawberry orphans as menial work in neighboring, wealthier countries like Spain and Italy is readily available for their struggling parents. Unfortunately, locals in some of these countries don’t always want to do these jobs, and with several countries relaxing their immigration rules, it has made it more attractive and possible for parents to find better-paying employment to help support their families.

Although the intention is to create a better life and support for their children by earning more money, some migrant workers’ children suffer negative effects. The Soros Foundation study also found that strawberry orphans are at greater risk of abusing alcohol, smoking cigarettes, getting in trouble with the law and having poor grades. Those children whose mothers leave home to work abroad are said to be at greater risk of becoming depressed and may suffer from abandonment issues.



About the author:

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.