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Jesús Rigores: “I’m supporting my family from London”

He works non-stop in order to guarantee a future for his family. He emigrated to the United Kingdom so that in the future his daughters might have enough money to study and to eat.

 

Jesús Rigores 15His nervousness is obvious as he awaits his arrival at London Bridge where he will have to present his CV that he is carrying in his hands.

He is Bolivian, 39-years-old and has lived in London for two years. Like many of his compatriots, he has come to the United Kingdom for the purposes of work. Here he works as a cleaner from Monday to Friday, clearing and collecting rubbish for more than 50 hours.

He has left his two daughters and his wife behind, his three motives for starting a new life in England.

“I work so that I can guarantee an education and food for my little ones. I only want the best for them and I know that everything I am doing will allow me to have a house in my country within a few years.”

Jesús Rigores 7Like many of his compatriots, he regularly sends a portion of his wages to his family. A study on the Latin American community confirms that 64% of the 200,000 Latin Americans that live in the United Kingdom send money to their families monthly, an annual average of £2,000.

“Every month I try to save about £200, but I would like to increase the amount so I am looking for another job at weekends. The sooner I get the money I need, the sooner I’ll be able to go back to them”, he says.

Jesús Rigores 3Some weeks ago he was working in the kitchen of a restaurant in Brixton on Saturdays and Sundays but he was dismissed for reasons unknown to him.

He is not concerned about working hours or about great comforts, he is only thinking about the objectives he must fulfil. He shares a house in Southwark with four other families. He has a small room for which he pays £55 a week. “The house is by no means luxurious. There isn’t even a lounge where you can watch the television. But it’s cheap and having somewhere to sleep is enough for me.”

Despite the distance he cannot forget his loved ones. In his wallet he keeps a photo of his daughters, as well as one of his wife. He always carries them with him.

“From the first day I was separated from them I was afraid that they might forget about me, that they might reject me when I return. That is why I try to speak to them every day so that they can see my face, so that they can tell me what they’ve been learning at school.”

Jesús Rigores 10He realises that to maintain a relationship at a distance with his partner “is very difficult” but he looks forward to the day when they will be reunited.

“I want to go back for a while, give them a surprise, but the tickets are very expensive and the truth is I would prefer that the money is spent on food.”

Many people would think that his life is precarious but he says that he is “fortunate. I’ve never had any problem. I know a friend who in the beginning had to sleep in buses because she didn’t have anywhere to live or any money.”

Jesús Rigores 1Of course, during the first few weeks he experienced the isolation and loneliness of an immigrant. “When I arrived, I didn’t know anyone. In the beginning I only wanted to get work and I spent the whole day in the street without interacting with people. Once I had a job and somewhere to live, I started to go to south London and I realised that I was not alone.”

He feels at ease in the city and he says that he likes British society, that the people are very serious but very fair. “We Latin Americans have a different way of life and often we don’t help each other”, adds Jesús.

He doesn’t like to talk about his future in Great Britain. “If it was left to me, I would go back to Bolivia today but I will return when I have secured a future for my daughters”, he explains.

(Translated by Martin Relph – Email: manurelph@btinternet.com)

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