From the migrants' point of view

No analysis has yet been undertaken to determine individual migrants' views on migration. Interviews conducted with ex-migrants, as well as oral history studies, and other personal contact indicate that in general, there is a great deal of satisfaction among migrants relating to their decision to settle in another land. The vast majority will not ever consider going back, even though most of them would have passed through some stage, particularly in the early phases of settlement when they questioned the whole idea and would dearly have liked to be able to return home. That feeling overcome, they now seem not only resigned but positively committed to their new country.

There is still a stage when the lure to return is hard to resist. This is particularly the stage when children begin to emerge from the total control of the family and start to establish themselves as autonomous individuals, independent of the family. This process, which is perceived by parents to occur by around puberty, is the time when the final decision of whether to stay or to go back has to be taken, before it is too late. Many parents are troubled by the increase licentiousness of the younger generation and their lack of respect for the older members, including parents themselves. They are afraid that they are going to 'lose' their children to the newfangled ideas of the new country. Often they are not aware that in Malta also, the way of life has changed beyond recognition over the past couple of decades, and that youth in Malta are no different from youth elsewhere.

A third group of persons who feel a desire to return is that of the middle-aged pensioner, more often male than female, who feels, in his retirement, that life in a village in Malta would be more leisurely than in a large metropolis such as Melbourne or Sydney. It would appear that women are more attached to their grandchildren to make this option a realistic one.

For a considerable proportion of first generation migrants, their life-style is closely woven with that of their children. Not unlike elder members of the extended family elsewhere, they cannot see themselves separated for long periods from their loved ones. Moreover, most elderly migrants have very few close family members or friends still living in Malta, and those who are still there will welcome their distant brothers and sisters for a holiday, but hardly for an extended period of time.

As mentioned earlier (Chapter 5) there is one particular segment of the migrant population whose future may not be as rosy as one would like. These are the elderly migrants who depend on social services for their very existence, particularly when they have no family that cares for them. Often they find themselves in 'homes' which as a rule do not provide ethnic-specific services. This could lead to a feeling of isolation and neglect. It is in this particular sphere that community councils within the Maltese migrant community can be of great assistance. It is here also that one feels that there is a persistent obligation on the part of the Maltese government to ensure that these people are not forgotten.

Source: Maurice N.Cauchi - The Maltese Migrant Experience, Malta 1999

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