From our print issues

Domestic flights

By Weena Pun

30 March 2015

Risks and opportunities for women migrant labourers from Nepal.

In early 2004, Sushila Karki Pyakurel was on her way from Kathmandu to Israel to work as a caretaker when she met a government official in Bangkok, en route to South Korea, for a sports programme. As soon as the man realised that she was headed for the West Asia all by herself, he asked her to return home immediately. The region was dangerous, he said, and he was willing to pay for her flight back home.

Sushila thought about the offer. She had already had qualms about the idea of working in a distant country. For months she had debated whether it was wise to leave behind her three-year-old son in order to take care of an unknown elderly in Israel.

But if she turned back now, who was going to recuperate the NPR 300,000 (USD 3000) the family spent trying to find her husband a job in Cyprus? An equal sum had already been spent on getting her to Israel. Besides, she was already out of Nepal, and on her way. If she turned back now, she would be returning to nothing more than a rented room in the Jadibuti locality of the Kathmandu Valley, and to a small khudra shop in Koteshwor. If she pushed on, Israel, its money and mysteries, were waiting. All she had to do was stick it out for a few years, ‘act small’ and not pick a fight with her employers, no matter how angry she felt. She politely declined the official’s offer and boarded the plane to Israel…

~To read the full article, you can buy the digital or the print version of the our latest issue Labour and its Discontents. You can also subscribe to us.

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