I so appreciate the comments received on the last entry on infidelity. I started responding to each one but there was so much repetition in my responses that it’s probably best to address the comments in an entry. I’ll do that later this week.
Today I wanted to follow up on the entry I wrote about immigrating to Canada. A dear friend’s brothers in Nigeria want her to send them a letter, inviting them to visit her. Her brothers don’t just want to visit: they want to find a way to work while on a visitor’s visa, earn some money and then return to Nigeria. The laws of Canada say you cannot work on a visitor’s visa and my friend is one of those rule following types (she probably hasn’t ever downloaded music illegally either!). As a result, she told her siblings that she cannot in good conscience agree to the visit. Besides telling them that it’s illegal to work on a visitor’s visa, she tried to get them to see that their actions if they were to get caught could reflect on her good name. If the authorities were to ask her if she knew that her siblings’ intentions were to do more than just visit, she would have to say YES she knew. I would have made the same decision she did.
Unfortunately a no, even with the most rational of explanations, even one that offers another way of getting the same end, is not often accepted easily. The alternative that my friend has given is that the brothers work on raising the money to attend a one or two year college or post graduate diploma in Canada, apply to a school in Canada, preferably one in my friend’s city, get admission, then use the information sent to them by the educational institution to get a student visa. If the school is in the same city as my friend, then her siblings could live (rent free) with her while studying. They would also be able to work (on campus at least) to earn extra money which they can use to save for the next semester of school or save for their future goal of relocating to Nigeria with money.
The problem with this plan for her brothers (and for my family members in the past) is that it’s a long and slow process. They would rather buy a plane ticket and come here without a plan, and find a way around the system rather than sit down and write it out on paper, see if it’s feasible, then act.
When I think of my own parents’ journey, it wasn’t the fastest one. Due to the fact that we lived in the one province that has different immigration rules from the others for one year, we had to restart the process. In the end it took an unusually long time for my parents, sister and I to get our papers sorted out and obtain citizenship â€” just over 10 years! This is definitely above the average. I had nothing to do with the process but I know there were frustrations on my parents’ part to make sure the statuses of all family members (except my brothers who were born in Canada) were up to date and visas renewed when they had to be. Of course, those times are not too deep in my parents’ memories but I think their relatives forget the amount of time that the process actually required. But knowing what we know now, we know that any family or friend who is prepared to come to Canada legally would be able to get citizenship in a much shorter time period.
What continually upsets me is the fact that despite all that has been said, family members continue to think there’s an easy way to get here that we refuse to share with them, that we’re being unnecessarily “stuffy” with our insistence on keeping things legal. Why wouldn’t we want our loved ones close to us? What do we have to gain by keeping this “secret” from them?
To anyone dealing with the situation my friend is in regarding communicating the reality of immigration and making money in Canada to family members, I’d say it’s important to stress that the process can be long but when all is said and done (legally) it will be worth it in the long-run. If you play your cards right you will be able to move freely between both countries and either settle permanently abroad, or take your education and skills back home and use them to better your life and hopefully the lives of others. If you’ve waited this long already, what is another few years? (Note: I’m not saying that “a few years” is nothing, but let’s think big picture.) Instead of calling family members with the latest thing you heard from someone who has never left Nigeria’s shores about how things work abroad (of course that person heard it from someone else who has probably never left the country), use the time (yes, the years!) to work with what you have at your disposal to be the best you can be.
And please, don’t misinterpret me:
I know that life in Nigeria is hard for many. I know some are desperate to leave the country, to go somewhere their skills and talents can be recognized and used to their full potential. I know some people have given Nigeria a very good try, have tried to build businesses and start new things that have failed due to countless factors beyond the control of the individual. I really get that!
I also know that I am blessed that I came here as a child, in the pocket of my parents, so to speak. I have not been where my relatives or my friend’s siblings are. If the roles were reversed I may very well be the one sitting in Nigeria thinking that my relatives aren’t doing enough for me, or don’t want to see me thrive. I recognize that I haven’t “been in the shoes” (literally) of those who don’t mind doing things illegally to get where they want to be. I’ve never had that desperation. But, I actually firmly believe that there are very few situations where the only alternative is to do something illegal. Oftentimes it’s impatience that leads people to do things the wrong way.
Finally, I know people who want to leave Nigeria but who are willing to make lemonade with the lemons they currently have, sell the lemonade for a few years and save some of the profits for the future plans to immigrate. Some find that their lemonade leads to a business or idea that allows them to support themselves quite well in Nigeria, and abandon plans of trying to go abroad. My cousin is an accountant and her husband works in a bank. Things haven’t been good for them financially, but they are surviving. However, for at least five years, my cousin has been buying and selling on a small scale, finding a way to supplement their income with this (in fact this is more profitable than her job at the moment). She recently got in contact with a friend in the UK and the two of them are partners in that he provides her with merchandise that she sells, and she’s doing very well with that. She’s making really good lemonade from what I can see!
This is longer than I wanted it to be, and if you read it to the end, I appreciate it. This idea of immigration and helping people to come here the right way is one that I am passionate about. I intend to find a way to do more for the cause in the future.