What happens when mother leaves? Migration, living condition and transnational relation in two Ethiopian areas
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Ethiopia is one of the countries from which an increasing number of transnational migrant parents originate. This results in the separation of the parents from their dependent children in place of origin. Consequently, left behind children in which their parents are abroad for work are increasingly common in Ethiopia. However, the plight of these children remained unstudied and little is known about their situation in Ethiopia. The present study has thoroughly examined the experiences and perspectives of left-behind children of migrant mothers in Addis Ababa and Sinana district. The philosophy of the social studies of children and childhood is the main perspective that majorly guides the overall work of this thesis. It advocates the assumption that children are experts in their own lives and they should be studied in their own right. The data gathering was based on qualitative design through in-depth interview and Focus Group Discussion (FGD). The study employed qualitative research tools, such as interviews and FGDs to collect the relevant information. It was conducted with 21 research participants using the snowball-sampling technique. The respondents were composed of left behind children and their caregivers. The analysis revealed the experience and perspective of left-behind children of migrant parents. It is found that left behind children experience emotional suffering following the absence of the mother. The study revealed that mothers' migration alters family structure as children increasingly assume new roles to fill the gap left by the mover. Children do employ their agency to cope with parental migration and make life more bearable. Though divergent views were observed, most children confirmed improvement in their living condition following the inflow of remittance from migrant parents. However, the children have no decision-making power on remittance utilization. The study also unveiled that most migrant worker mothers continue to provide care support to their dependent children back home using modern telecommunication technology. In the end, it is revealed that parental migration increases migration desire of left behind children. Children consider migration as a way out of poverty both for themselves and for their family members.