|A street in the Casbah, Algiers|
I have met sisters who, once here, decided to make a go of it, but their husbands found it all too much and decided to return back to the countries they emigrated to in the first place as they just couldn’t help but compare the chaos here with the order there. Sometime it took for them to go back to realise that chaos and order were not always the most important issues when it comes to the upbringing of children, especially ones in their teens and some have returned back to Algeria a second time. Often, second time round, these men adjusted must better, and I think that this is because the dithering has stopped and they are now looking forward and not with an eye looking back at what they left behind. Mentally they were better prepared second time round.
Most Algerians abroad think in terms of saving up enough money to return and buy their own homes, start up a business and then sit back and relax and enjoy the good life. There was a time when that was an option, but like with everything else, the reality of life here is very different nowadays. Property prices have gone up a lot and many Algerians find themselves struggling in the economic crunch in countries in the west without any extra money to buy property or to build a home here. Very few of them take advantage of the educational opportunities available in their country of exile, and this can be mainly because they are totally unaware of how much Algeria has changed and in need of people who are qualified in modern techniques in all areas of life…. be it IT, languages, teaching, plumbing, mechanics, engineering etc. etc.
Qualifications are more important than money here – they are the keys to doors of opportunity and success, and once a husband has a good job here, the financial security it provides to a family and the good example of a work ethic it provides to children who may otherwise become very disenchanted with the educational system ensures an easier and better transition. How can you encourage a child to keep his/her head down and keep going through the tough times of the educational system here if they see their father sitting back and doing nothing, or else he’s still working abroad and coming back when he can. What kind of message does this give to a child? A lot of Algerians, having worked abroad for other people, want to come back and work for themselves, so set up businesses. But often this entails very long hours, and means more isolation and loneliness for their wives sitting at home, in a society where they are so very much dependant on him for various reasons. Having a job with a regular wage in a good company not only provides financial security and more time to devote to a family, but also there are perks such as a paid pension and medical insurance, and sometimes, discounts off large purchases such as household appliances or cars, or hobbies such as swimming pools, gyms, horse riding stables etc.
It takes time, also, for the husbands to realise that actually their own families can’t help them as much as they expected, because they’ve never experienced having a foreigner in the family before and all the extra work this can entail. This is where other men who have already moved here and have adjusted can be a great source of support and information. I remember my husband was very comforted and encouraged by some of the men he met when he returned, and I know that he is very willing to do the same for others. It can certainly combat the one thing that a returning Algerian does not expect on his return to Algeria – loneliness. He has lived abroad, seen how other people live, had his mind broadened, and it can be very lonely coming back to people who may think he’s mad to come back in the first place as they have no appreciation for what they have here in Algeria, who assume he is very naive for doing so and are very happy to disillusion him, and who won’t listen when he tries to explain the realities of living as a foreigner abroad.
It makes an enormous difference if he comes for the sake of Allah FIRST before any other reason. He then has the firm handhold of One Who will never let go and Who will get him through the first couple of years of transition. It really helps so much, to remember, during the hard times, why you’ve come – for Whose Pleasure, and then the exhausting dithering and doubts fade away leaving you with more energy to cope with problems as they come. And you know that you are exactly where Allah wants you to be, and if you’re patient and keep asking Him He will get you out of any difficulty, if you’re open to His Will. This is important for us sisters too – so many times I would have loved to have shouted at my husband ‘I’m only here in this..........(insert your own descriptive word here!) country because of you’ but I couldn’t, because I came to please Allah. It totally avoids the utterly demoralising ‘blame game’.
|View of the Bay of Algiers from the Casbah|