Before joining the ILO in 2014 I’d heard this remarkable fact about Chinese migrant workers: at some 274 million, they represent the greatest population movement in human history. But what I didn’t realize is, I’m actually one of them.
Imagine that you had a family to feed and moving abroad was your only option to earn a decent wage — but you didn’t know where or how to find work overseas. Or imagine that your daughter works abroad but that you haven’t had any word from her for months and months.
Or ask yourself what you’d do if you were injured at work a long way from home, with a hospital bill you couldn’t afford and an employer who refused to pay you as much as you’d agreed.
After completing high school, I left Kathmandu for the United States to pursue a higher education. That was around 15 years ago and back then, most young people who left Nepal went to similar destinations in the “developed world.”
Not my cousin. He dropped out of high school and went to work in the Middle East. Close to two decades later he still works there, having just left Nepal for another two-year stint.