Opportunities are elsewhere
Gilbert Calleya - 02/04/2010
Occupation: Administrative Clerk at a Software Company
Eleanor is quitting her job. She prefers greater freedom over her current 1100euros a month salary. “I don’t have much time for relaxation... that is why I’m quitting. For me time is more important than money and I am looking forward to plan and do everything in my own time and rhythm… I don’t have a whole list of hobbies, I am interested in photography, love to travel a lot, being in the outdoors, enjoy reading a good book and practicing my ukulele… I am sure I will be more inspired once my mind is free from the 8 to 5 routine ….”
When asked about the importance of having a job she reiterates that all’s relative. “ If you plan to get a loan to buy a new car or a house it is very important to have a job or some sort of secure income, however if you prefer to live a simple life without any of these possessions and have no children to support, you can use your imagination and live happily without a fixed job”, she says.
Eleanor rents a place in Valletta and unlike the majority of Maltese youths she cohabits with a friend. She comes through as quite open-minded and reads about current issues from the internet. The main ‘political issues’ concerning the Maltese right now are the high utility bills and taxes she says.
She also has a very strong opinion about the treatment received by irregular migrants who land in Malta. “Illegal migration is another issue, looks like the kind Maltese heart fades away whenever the people in need are of a dark complexion. If only they realise that there are as many Caucasian illegal immigrants living in all parts of the island as there are dark ones living in open and detention centres!”
She also thinks that the “Maltese seem passive about climate change… I think that’s the main issue with which we should be concerned about.”
What about your wishes for the future? “All I wish is to be healthy and happy and travel as much as possible. I wish that people understand the beauty in diversity and realise that friends and family are the real security, not money.”
Occupation: Retail and fashion design
Lara is a young fashion designer hoping that one day she’ll make it big in the industry abroad. She works in a shop and follows sewing and make-up courses. Lara is happy with her job but would like to travel and explore possibilities abroad. “In Malta there are limited opportunities due to the size of our island”, she says repeating what is perhaps the most common refrain for Maltese youths.
“I enjoy socializing… I usually go out on weekends most often to chill out wine bars with a nice atmosphere… “ Like many girls her age, she also enjoys shopping and organizing photo-shoots but her free time is spent designing clothes and accessories and working on her ideas for future projects.
She is not in the habit of reading newspapers but says that occasionally she uses the internet to read the news.
Occupation: Chef de Partie in one of Malta’s leading hotels and catering establishments
Kenneth talks enthusiastically about his work and says that he inherited the trade from his grandfather. “I love the kitchen but the downside of this job is that we work long shifts at awkward hours and one has to forget about holidays.” His basic monthly pay is around 1,200 euros which he says suffices to pay his modest bills but feels that he is not compensated enough for overtime and taxes eat a good part of his income. “You have to budget if you want to raise a family …”
In his limited spare time he works on the house his girlfriend Kathleen owns and which will eventually be their future home. They have been together for 6 years and both are still living with their parents. When asked if he’d ever considered moving in with Kathleen before marriage he replied in the negative, “there’s no need to go live together. We’re both from Zurrieq and live very close by … plus, we even get to stay a lot at each others’ place … even our parents [in their 60s] have got used to us two sleeping together...”
Kenneth’s past-time is hunting. He is angry about the government’s decision, under EU pressure, to restrict hunting considerably and impose tight closed seasons. “I have a lot of hunters’ friends and right now we’re in depression… we feel betrayed by our own politicians … we had been promised concessions… they cheated us!”, he says with a shrug and a look of disgust, “we can only hunt in between September and the end of January … other than that all’s been banned.”
The hunting issue has been a hot potato since Malta’s early aspirations to join the EU. It was considered a politically sensitive issue because of the popularity of this past-time and the hunters’ block vote could have a determining effect on the outcome of the general elections but this did not happen in 2008. The hunters’ lobby is still very active and claim that they are being treated as ‘second class EU citizens’.
Occupation: mother and part-time singer
Petra is a single mother of a 3 year old boy. Her child’s father is Nigerian and lives away from Malta. He has been absent from her child’s life but she has found the support of her parents who are both in their late 40s. She receives child support and welfare benefits from the state and tries to round up figures by singing occasionally at private functions. “It is often difficult to make ends meet and I’m lucky that I can turn on my parents, who both have jobs, for help”, she says.
“My life centers around my child and his well-being. Singing and music are my second priority in life and I’d love to be able to go abroad where there are more opportunities and pursue my singing career…” Petra is currently studying with a vocal coach with hopes to sign and record with a big label.
Karl Muscat, Charlene Muscat
Age: Karl 26, Charlene 26
Occupation: Karl is a Software developer and Charlene works as an accountant.
They have met at school and have been going out together for 9years. They plan to marry this year and have bought a 3 bedroomed apartment in Bahrija, a nice village surrounded by the quickly disappearing countryside on the Island.
They have both specialized in their respective fields and got degrees from the University of Malta. Both have well-paid jobs and in between them they earn around 3,800 euros, a good income by Maltese standards. Due to this they cannot benefit from most of the government support schemes to first time home buyers.
Karl and Charlene have had very supporting families in their relationship and think that family and friends are a very important asset in Malta. They believe that the budget deficit is the country’s number one concern as this is reflecting in the lack of spending power of the Maltese and the subsequent pressures exerted by the high cost of living coupled with the needs ‘imposed’ by the high standard of living.
Daniel end Fabienne
Age: Daniel 30, Fabienne 28
Occupation: Daniel works in his family’s artisan business and also runs the bar of a football club, Fabienne is employed on reduced hours with a big communications company and is studying to become a beauty therapist.
Daniel and Fabienne have been together since they were teenagers. They have been married for 5 years and have 4 children (aged 7, 4, 2 and 8 months) and are living in an apartment behind his parents’ house until they move into a house of their own which they only bought recently.
Their days are conditioned by their children’s needs and most of their income goes to buying diapers, food, medicine and other necessities. They get children’s allowances from the state but they never benefitted from social housing schemes.
They appreciate the help they get from their parents and believe in strong family values and think abortion is immoral. They have reservations about the introduction of divorce.
When asked about the migrants issue they pause. Fabienne speaks first, “I work in Marsa, close to the open centre and I must say I do feel afraid sometimes especially when they stop you to talk…” Daniel is clearer about his position. “Malta can’t support these large quantities of people…” he adds and thinks that proper burden sharing is the only solution to this delicate issue. “We’re not Racists”, Fabienne reassures.