Friday, July 01, 2005

Source of my travellin' urges

I'm very much inspired by this person I know, who left Manila with just USD200, for Canada. It took her a very long while to save that much money. She was about my age, actually much younger.

She spent half of her money on a coat in Hong Kong and arrived in Ontario with USD100 in her pocket.

She had hooked up with this agency to help her find work as a nurse in Kingston but when she (and other Filipina nurses) arrived at the hospital, they were told that there were no jobs. The "swindler" (as she calls him) convinced them to fly to Ottawa where they could possibly find work. But he remained in Kingston.

So off to Ottawa, young nurses went, on blind hopes of finding a job but once they arrived in the airport, they felt scared and stuck in a strange country. They had no idea what to do and were too afraid to ask for help. Finally, a kind airport worker helped them out and got them into taxis to the civic hospital (his idea).

It was around midnight when they arrived at the hospital, unannounced.

The kindly matron welcomed the group and gave each girl a large room for boarding ('just for tonight before we sort things out!'). There was a student nurses dormitory attached to the hospital with plenty of room. The rooms were large and dark, with huge windows that emphasized the cold wind howling outside. The girls were too afraid to sleep in the rooms by themselves and ended up sleeping, two girls per bedroom.

It was a worrying night because the matron had cautioned about only being able to give "one or two jobs" to the group. No one knew who would be the lucky ones.

The next morning was a huge shock because they woke up cold and confused in a new country. Going to the joint bathroom was an even bigger shock because there were white girls running around, with very little clothes on. Some were even topless.

After much trepidation, they finally met up with the matron who told the entire group, "you're all hired!". It turned out that the hospital had a shortage of nurses and the group came at the opportune time.

They hugged, and kissed and laughed at their good fortune.

But she still had only USD100 in her pocket (actually less than that since she had paid her share of the taxi fare) and had no other means of income until the arrival of her first paycheque later in the month. So she ate ice cream (only fifty cents!) for lunch, and sometimes for dinner. Truth be told, she was actually thrilled to eat ice cream for lunch.

It was the Sixties and this woman is my mum. My mum, the great adventurer. She eventually obtained her Canadian citizenship, met my dad in Ottawa and the rest is history. (I kinda do wonder what my life would be like if they had stayed in Canada. Probably non-existent considering that I was conceived in Borneo.)

Happy Canada Day!

7 Comments:

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Jordan F. MacVay said...

What a great story! I'm a day late with this, but happy Canada Day to you too. Hey, as I type this it's still July 1st in Canada, so there. ;)

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger cabiria said...

this was very beautiful, cayce... it goes to a lot of what we were chatting yesterday, doesn't it? cheers to your mum and the adventure spirit.

 
At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

Wow! Horay to your mum!

 
At 3:16 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

thanks guys!

yeah, lets - our chat yesterday got me thinking. Glad you put that perspective in front of me because at least I can make a decision with (hopefully) a clearer mind on what to expect.

 
At 5:58 PM, Blogger Froot said...

now we know where you got the gene from! seriously, your mom was and is super cool to do that on her own.

 
At 8:25 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

heh, my mum sure is cool..

I'm pretty sure that I got my 'wanderlust gene' from my dad as well who also travelled from the other side of the world with very little money in his pocket.

My parents are amazing!

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger [The User] said...

Wonderful, inspiring story. I didn't suspect a thing (about the plot twist I mean :))

My mum immigrated to Canada at a young age. I admire her for it. I'm not sure I'd have had the courage to move to a foreign land at such a young age.

 

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