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The illusion of a better life

By - 18.07.2023

Migrating abroad brings payoffs, but even bigger sacrifices.

The bond of family is a sacred bond for me, and I believe it is a sacred one for most of us. I think too that the health of a nation is related to the health of its families, and the extent to which people provide love and support to each other. Sometimes I reflect on the sacrifices my parents made for me and my siblings and I know how hard it must have been for them. My mother and father both come from homes where multiple branches of the family lived together under one roof. They wore hand-me-down clothes and played with toys made of sticks and stones to pass the time and I know they had to fight hard to secure a more prosperous future for the next generation.

My mother grew up in a tyrannical family environment that I still have trouble fathoming while my father lived on the other extreme: his father died when he was barely 13 and he had to immediately take on adult responsibilities. Despite these challenges, they succeeded at building a loving home for me and my siblings. 

But to do so, there were sacrifices. As a child, my father used to leave for work before I woke up and I often fell asleep at night before he returned. He was a carpenter and in post-war Kosovo there was endless demand for his skill and endless need from his family of five whose house had been destroyed. Given that sacrifice, I could never consider leaving my parents’ side. I’m more comfortable in a future where I’m directly involved in their lives and able to return this support and care.

To be honest, I have thought about living abroad. It’s tempting during times of financial or personal turmoil to think about escaping Kosovo. But there are drawbacks. I’ve seen this through the experience of relatives who live abroad. Every visit home produces tears of joy about reuniting with family, but also bitter tears of sorrow about having missed important events in each others’ lives. They’ve chosen a life that is more financially stable, but they have sacrificed the joy of being present in the lives of the people who matter most.

My beliefs about the positives and negatives of moving abroad became crystal clear one evening when both my parents were scheduled for emergency surgeries in a neighboring country. They needed their children. As I drove them to the hospital, I had deep conversations with my parents and felt overjoyed that I could be there to support them in their time of need.

That night I stayed at my friend’s house awaiting news of the surgery and thought about what could go wrong and how important it was that I was close by, ready to take action and help. Everything turned out okay. Today we laugh about how when I went to visit them after their surgery and I was all dressed in hospital scrubs, my parents didn’t recognize me and greeted me with “Hello Doctor.”

I became even more settled in my thoughts about moving abroad when my niece was born. I was there at the hospital, admiring her angelic face as she lay asleep in my brother’s arms. When he handed her over for me to hold I realized I would be the third person in the world to hold her. There’s no greater treasure. A life where I couldn’t participate in these moments — or should I say miracles — would be an impoverished one.


Feature image: Atdhe Mulla via MidJourney.

This blog was published with the financial support of the European Union as part of the project “Diversifying voices in journalism.” Its contents are the sole responsibility of Kosovo 2.0 and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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