EMPLOYMENT chances of so-called trailing spouses are often hampered by high unemployment rates, work permit difficulties, other expats on the market and personal selectivity.
According to a 2011 report on Global Relocation Trends by Brookfield Global Relocation Services, 60 percent of the trailing spouses of expats abroad on assignment were employed before the couple moved to another country, but only 15 percent worked after arrival.
So, is volunteerism a viable filler?
Besides benefiting society, the Global HR News article “Man, Trailing Spouse” suggests that volunteering can prevent resume gaps, spark alternative careers and promote personal fulfilment and self-improvement.
Avid volunteer Jennifer Ananiadis has spent a total of eleven years in Greece – Thessaloniki and then Athens, with an in-between year in India – because of her husband’s job. She’d previously worked for twenty years, but raising their young sons became her priority in Greece – along with volunteering at their schools.
It’s our obligation as citizens of the world to volunteer, American Ananiadis says, adding: “Even if you are one of those in need of help, there is always someone that you, in turn, can help.”
She’s a founding partner of the non-profit, Athens-based organisation Helping Handbags Hellas, which facilitates the donation and purchase of gently used designer handbags to support a variety of good causes.
Ananiadis feels volunteerism enables her to help women become actively engaged in the act of charity.
Through it, she feels useful and meets many people. With its flexible hours, it’s taken the place of a paying job for her.
Uruguayan Gabriela Larrieux agrees with the pluses, but highlights one difference. “When you have a real job,” she says, “you expect that your efforts will be recognised in some way, especially by getting your salary at the end of the month.”
Larrieux moved to Athens in 1982 and to Thessaloniki in 1993, where she became the president of the International Women’s Organisation of Greece (IWOG). Under her leadership, IWOG was one of the founding organisations to establish the city’s annual Food-for-Good Festival. Larrieux continues to coordinate the festival’s Latin American table.
In addition, she was a founding member and network facilitator of the Thessaloniki Organisation for Women’s Employment and Resources (Tower), as well as active in the American Farm School of Thessaloniki’s Group for Student Services for many years. Last, but not least, she’s been the honorary consul of Uruguay since 1995.
“Voluntary work taught me how to deal with people from different environments,” says Larrieux, as well as paving the way for her finding fulltime work in 2009.
Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas is an Athens-based, Canadian Greek (by marriage) writer and a transnational of some 30-odd years. She blogs at kathrynlukeycoutsocostas.wordpress.com
|Athens News 23/Mar/2012 page 22|