Note from Nyakarima: I found this article very shocking and being a Christian I thought the part of picking other gods, uneccesary. However, I’ve been talking to the author who has been hurt repeatedly, has gone through extremely horrible conditions while living abroad and all these circumstances have made her who she is today. She is a result of what dealing with relatives can do to you. I hope you read the article not with an aim to judge her stronge view points but get the overall gist of it. And by the way, she speaks the truth, we are used to sugarcoating things.
I have been asked if my stance of dealing with my relatives makes me feel isolated. My response is that it makes no difference. I have been isolated most of my life, and overseas, the feeling is even greater, all the time. I could choose to hang around people but that doesn’t mean that I shall not feel alone. Everyone has their own life and some people will only hang out with you if they need something from you. I work every day of the week, I have less time to feel isolated. Those who don’t deal with their relatives like I do always have financial problems and need to borrow money from others from time to time – I lack that kind of drama. And no, I am not living like a queen. I live in a very frugal manner that ensures that I have money to save, some to live on, and a little to send back home.
I have been asked to write about how to deal with relatives back home for those who are overseas. It’s a very common story for many people away from their homeland who have to send money back home, that they end up in slavery. They have a hard time keeping up with the demands for money from all sorts of relatives, from those close to those distant relatives.
Because of the need to remain both civil and respectful, many suffer silently, even living in squalid conditions just so they can save up money to send back home. When they can no longer stand it, they decide to give their families the silent treatment. They feel that their families will not be able to understand their plight, or they will just ignore it. We all know of those situations where the immigrant’s family won’t mind them dying in the quest to make more money. But we all know how this ends, even if you die, your family back home will survive without you.
What should you do to get control of this situation?
You need to consider your world view. I am agnostic; I don’t care about gods at all. Therefore, when my relatives back home try to say God will give me more money, I refuse and tell them right to their ears (we are usually on the phone), that I have to work for that money, I have to rest in between shifts, and there’s no such things as an overflowing fountain of blessings. I have argued with relatives over the phone and I don’t budge, I don’t believe in their gods, and I tell them to let their gods rain the money on them like manna from heaven, they shouldn’t expect that from me. Now if you are religious, find scriptures that support your using common sense when it comes to money, those that support your need to make your relatives independent of you, and that basically demand that you take care of yourself before others. If your current religion doesn’t have such scriptures, I suggest you change religions.
Your relatives are parasites, and you are a willing host. What does this mean? Even your children can be parasitic; same applies to your parents and siblings. Anyone can get spoiled, even an adult. If you make things too easy for them, why should they work hard? If you keep giving them chance after chance when they mess up, why should they ever take them seriously when you threaten them? How many relatives have you tried to bring over to come live in the same country as you so they can have more independence to struggle for themselves, yet they prefer to stay home and continue to leech on you? Why are you still trying to help people who really don’t need proper help? Are you insane? Isn’t repeating the same thing over and over expecting different results the definition of madness?
It took a while for me to change, but I eventually did. You go through the pain of sending money that is used for other things other than what it was intended for. You end up taking care of relatives you are giving birth like rats. Maybe you don’t have any kids of your own but your sibling who is jobless depends on you, and continues to reproduce as though the entire planet is barren and only s/he is left fertile – hence the duty to fill the earth with the next generation. Why are you martyring yourself? Are you some sort of savior?
Figure out how much money you send back home. Keep track of it, use a paper, an excel spreadsheet, whatever. Include the names, dates and the reasons for sending the money. Figure out how much it costs to survive: rent, food, water, transportation, etc. Send money for it minus one thing, food. Your relatives can beg for food, but having someone else pay for transportation and rent can be problematic. Let them find ways of surviving, if they have to con people, or work, or prostitute themselves, that is their problem. But you have to send less money than they need. After they get used to the food money missing, cut off something else. You have to wean them off you. If they are too lazy to be resourceful, let them become someone else’s problem. Just remember, while you are abroad, YOU are it. No one else is saving money for you; no one else is going to save you when you are in trouble. You need to put money aside for yourself. Start thinking of yourself, because when push comes to shove and you go back home, those parasitic relatives won’t want you to leech on them. You shall die like a dog on the street.
It took me a while to get to where I am. Yes, I am very mean, but I have money saved up which can bail me out of bad situations should I need it. And this is because I refused to give in to relatives’ demands. I don’t pay for birthdays, Christmas, and all sorts of unnecessary nonsense. I can pay for school, but I won’t pay for hostpital. I tell them right to their ears, if they can’t afford to live, they have to die. Because I’m in the same situation and if I get very sick, I will surely die abroad. This is a reality I can’t ignore. No one gets out of this life alive anyway, what’s the big deal? And yes, you can tell your relative you won’t take care of all the kids, s/he has to be OK with most of them being malnutritioned and/or illiterate because it is not your problem. You bring kids into this world, you handle you responsibility.
I hope those pointers work for you; otherwise get ready to work to death. If that makes you happy, then keep it up. If it’s been nagging you and putting a dark cloud over you, if you’ve been dreading phone calls from back home, then something has to change. YOU have to change, and YOU have to let them know. Tell them to save a portion of the money you send and do some business with it if they want. No, you won’t fund their business, tell them to go to a bank and deal with all the collateral drama. You are not a charity.