Q: Good morning. How old are you?
Q: Are you married? Do you have children?
Q: How many children do you have?
Q: How old are they?
A: Eleven and five years old.
Q: Your husband is an emigrant, right?
Q: Where is he?
A: He was in Belgium, but now he is in Spain.
Q: For how long has he been in Spain?
A: Almost a year, but he was in Belgium for 11 years.
Q: But he moved to Spain?
A: Yes, it is closer.
Q: Tell me about your experience with emigration. Why did your husband emigrate?
A: Because here we could not have a life, as we say… comfortable. And also for personal reasons, he had to emigrate. Time has passed and for now… let’s see what happens.
Q: What is his job?
A: He is a carpenter.
Q: And he has been an emigrant, as you said, for 12 years.
Q: Did he emigrate for economic reasons?
A: Yes, for that reason, too, but also for personal reasons, some problems he has, his stuff, but as I married him, I had to take those as my own.
Q: How often does he visit you?
A: Now, once a week.
Q: In what area of Spain is your husband?
Q: Does he work with other Portuguese workers?
A: Yes, he does. The firm is Portuguese.
Q: During all this time, what was the most difficult thing for you? What has been the most negative part about emigration?
A: Especially the children. We want to give them everything, we have to be both father and mother to them, but it is very complicated. Luckily, I had great help from my mother and a sister of mine who live near me. Otherwise, I don’t think I could handle it.
Q: What about your children? How do they feel about their father?
A: The youngest doesn’t want to talk to him. She just can’t do it. When he’s here with us, she is always near him, but she says she doesn’t want to talk to him, because he’s not around her.
Q: So, your daughter, who is 5 years old, only talks to him in person?
A: Yes, she doesn’t talk to him on the phone. She simply cries. My son speaks but little. He says “Hi, dad”, talks about basic things and for a short time.
Q: How do you communicate?
A: By video call.
Q: What about you? Do you talk to him about everything or do you wait until he visits you?
A: No, I tell him everything! We can talk for an hour if we have to, every day and we talk about everything. My daughter is always with me. She does not speak, but he can at least see her.
Q: But does she interact with him in any way?
A: No, sometimes she even covers her face.
Q: What about him? How does he feel about it?
A: He feels a little sad, tired, at this moment. That’s why he moved from Belgium to Spain, to be closer to us and to come home every weekend, because he only came home for Easter, Christmas and summer holidays. Three times a year. We chose Spain because our daughter goes to Primary School this year and this way he is closer to her. At least for now, until he can make it to Portugal.
Q: How does he come home? How does he travel?
A: By van.
Q: And that doesn’t worry you?
A: Yes, very much!
A: Because of the accidents that have occurred. We do not know who drives and even if my husband is driving, I’m afraid he’ll fall asleep, because they travel almost overnight. It’s complicated, with the accidents they show on television, I’m always worried.
Q: Do you think your husband will be an emigrant for a long time?
A: I don’t think so. Because we have already achieved one of the main goals we wanted to achieve, which was a house of our own. I hope it won’t be long until his return. Now we just want to stabilize our life a bit. I don’t want him to go on for long, as we often say, working hard. I want him to have another job, a lighter one, you know.
Q: An easier thing for him to work in?
Q: Have you ever visited him while he was away?
A: No, I haven’t. He is and always has been the one who came home to visit us. It was because of our children.
A: First, because I dread planes. My husband already said that he’s going to take me on a plane, so I’m not afraid anymore, I’m terrified! Then, if only he was in a house with a room for himself, but it isn’t like that, and I don’t want to see my life exposed like that.
Q: So, he has never lived alone?
A: No, in the same place there have always lived seven, six persons, but there were several rooms, and in each room slept two men.
Q: While in Belgium he was always in the same place or not?
A: Yes, he was always in the same place.
Q: While he was away, did you or your children have any serious health problems?
A: My kids didn’t, but I did. I got married and eight months later I got pregnant with my first child, G., who is eleven, will be twelve in October and I could not be without my husband. My husband emigrated when my son was six months old. So he missed the whole childhood of both his children. As I already said, I had to be a mother and father at the same time, I had to take the kids to school and pick them up. So I got depressed. I am still taking medication for this depression, because as long as I don’t feel that he is with me, near me, I can’t feel good. That is the only health problem I have.
Q: What about him?
A: He had some problems before. When he was younger. He was a little depressed and also had some stomach problems, but nothing serious.
Q: But has he ever been hospitalized?
A: No, not at all.
Q: When you communicate with him, do you feel closer to him or is it something formal?
A: No, it’s not an formal thing. When he calls me we talk for a long time, we both say we miss each other. Now that he comes home every week is even worse because he wants to stay with us longer.
Q: Nowadays you use video calls, but twelve years ago it was not possible. How was it back then?
A: We talked on the phone. But since we started using video calls I tell him everything. What happened to the kids at school, kindergarten, everything!
Q: How old is your husband?
A: My husband is 42 years old.
Q: If you had to ask him for something, what would you ask him to do at this moment?
A: What I always ask of him – don’t go, don’t go anymore, I’m tired. But he tells me it’s just a little bit more, just a little more. He is one of those parents who care about the well-being of their family and children, who want the best for their children.
Q: Can you describe what you felt the first time he went away, do you still remember that day?
A: Yes, I do. I felt anguish. I cried a lot, because of the sadness I felt.
Q: Why all that anguish?
A: Because I was used to being with him all the time. We were married recently. We had lived together for three months before getting married. Then, because of his personal things, which came from the time he was single, he felt the need to emigrate, because he said that me, or our son, didn’t have to pay for the mistakes he made. But we all make mistakes.
Q: So, your husband emigrated as a way to escape from here, to forget about the past?
A: Yes, to help to forget the past. It was not a question of economic necessity, he was the one who felt the need to do this, to give more and more. Even now he no longer needs to be where he is, but he wants to.
Q: Have you ever thought about emigrating with him?
A: Yes, I’ve thought about it and we’ve talked about it before. But the problem is he is not always in the same place. Because if he was always in the same place, I would go. He is either five or six months in one place, as he is already going to another. For example, he has been working on one of the company’s projects for two months now, but he is already going to work on another one. He’s still in Spain, but he has to move. It is complicated.
Q: But you said before that when he was in Belgium he had always been in the same place.
A: In Belgium, yes, in Spain, no.
Q: While he was in Belgium, did you ever think about joining him?
A: I thought about it, but his boss being Portuguese… if he was a Belgian, it would help a bit, but as he wasn’t, it was not worth it. And my husband said that the kids were very young and he did not want them to go.
Q: What is your greatest desire for the future?
A: I want him to come back so that we can live in our new house. I hope our house will be ready quickly and we all stay together. I hope that he will never have to go anywhere else.
Q: You really love your husband!
A: I love him very, very much!
Q: Are you looking forward to have him here, right?
A: Yes, I am.
Q: Thank you for your testimony, it was very important. I wish you all the best for your future.
A: Thank you.