Most days Richard Navales comes home from work and calls his wife and three sons.
They are thousands of kilometres apart, he in Christchurch and his family in the Philippines, and it could be up to two years before they are reunited.
Richard is a pipefitter working on the site of the new health precinct. He’s one of more than 3000 Filipinos who this year were granted temporary work visas in Christchurch.
Lisa Burdes, Skilled Migrant Advisor for the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, says “there are 103 million Filipinos in the world and 10 million work overseas.”
“We look at these guys and say how could they leave their families, often very young children for years on end? If you look at what they’re sacrificing there’s a good reason for it. They want their children to go to Catholic schools in the Philippines and they cost a lot. The equivalent of what they would earn here is huge.”
One worker told Christchurch Dilemmas he was earning 300 pesos a day in Manila, and is earning the equivalent of 6000 pesos a day in Christchurch.