Hay Had A Dream
Armenian Women’s Labor Migration to Turkey
They hate it and they love it. Their dreams are definite but too far. Labor migrant is a term that they are not even aware of. This project is an exploration of the situation of women migrants from Gyumri, Armenia, who work in Istanbul, Turkey. Photographed are the women and their families in Armenia and Turkey, their lives and work.
A research by Eurasia Partnership Foundation in 2009 showed that, “Most illegal Armenian migrants in an interview pool of 150 people had traveled to Istanbul from the northwestern Armenian region of Shirak, site of a devastating 1988 earthquake, where unemployment runs high. Ninety-four percent of the respondents were women employed in domestic services jobs.”
The women who migrate for work are mostly divorced or widowed. The work that they engage in is housekeeping, nursing, babysitting, and other in-house work. They earn about $500- $800 per month. The women often live in the houses of the people they work for, and many others rent small apartments and often share them with other Armenians. The women mostly stay in Istanbul illegally. They mostly live in Istanbul’s Kumkapi district, which has been an Armenian district since historical times.
The apartments or houses where labor migrants usually work belong to families that are rich or well off, and who can afford to host and pay for housekeepers. This is the apartment where Narine works.
Gayane’s daughter Julietta gets married. Gayane says that one of the reasons she works in Istanbul is to be able to earn money and help her daughters collect their dowry, help them have a good future. (click image to view vertical)
Gayane’s daughter Anna joined her mother in Istanbul, to work in a clothing store. Gayane’s younger daughter Julietta is getting married in hometown Gyumri in Armenia, and Anna tries on a dress for the wedding party. Anna and Gayane will travel to Armenia for the wedding.