TBILISI, DFWatch – Nani (48) left Georgia about 17 years ago to work in Italy and send money to her family. She’s from Samtredia, a small town in Western Georgia. Her husband works at a local theater, earning a small salary. Her daughter goes to school, while her son is getting higher education in Kutaisi, Georgia’s second largest city.

When Nani’s family was on the edge of hunger, she decided to leave. She tells DF Watch that at first she arrived in Italy illegally, because it was too expensive to get there with all necessary documents and procedures. For several years she gathered all necessary documents and saved money, and for now she’s a citizen of Italy.

Nani works as a servant for big Italian family. Her responsibilities are to clean the house, help with the cooking and look after two children. The family is quite rich and pays her a good salary.

“It’s enough for my living here and I’m sending money to my family in Samtredia. I’m also paying for my son’s education. Higher education isn’t free in Georgia, you know.”

She manages to come to Georgia once a year, during holidays.

“I know it’s not enough, but when I remember our being when I was living there I assure myself that it’s better to be here and help my family from here.”

She sends presents for birthday and clothes for her daughter when school starts in autumn.

Nani says she’s not planning to come back yet, as she is sure she won’t be able to find a proper job.

“Until I’m healthy and capable of work and do what I do here, I’ll stay. But then children will grow up, have their jobs and it will be easier to come,” she says, adding that she would like to spend her old age in her hometown with her grandchildren.

About 23 per cent of Georgian population has emigrated, mostly as labor migrants; and four fifths of them are illegals. This is one of the findings in a new report published by Liberal Academy Tbilisi. The report mainly describes visa facilitation and readmission fulfillment in Georgia, but it also covers topics like emigration and money transfers.

Active migration of Georgian citizens started after Soviet Union collapsed, since 1990s. The main reason according to the report is economic fall-down, civic and ethnic conflicts, poverty, and unemployment.

According to the World Bank, net migration, which is the difference between emigration and immigration in a year, is always negative. In 1992-1996 it was -544 069; in 1997-2001 the numbers were equal to -390.036; in 2002-2006 -309.021 and in 2007-2011 number decreased to -150.000.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the Georgia’s indicator for emigration of is one of the highest in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and in the group of countries, which recently joined EU.

1 058.3 thousand people are in emigration in 2009, according to World Bank data. 644 390 of this number are in Russia, which is on the top of ten countries, where Georgian emigrants go. Then it is followed by Armenia, where there are 75 792 emigrated; Ukraine – 72 410, Greece 41 817 and Israel – 26 032.

Among EU countries, Greece is on the top of the list, followed by Germany, Cyprus, Spain and Latvia.

The report says that a majority of Georgian labor migrants are employed in the construction sector, family activity and babysitters; also in trade and small business. 60 per cent of migrants are from 20 to 39 year old.

About 85 per cent of Georgian migrants had not found a job after arriving in a certain country. Respondents in the report also included workers in Italy, who describe that finding a job in Italy is a very humiliating and difficult process. Women arriving in Italy have to live for three to four months in groups in a flat for five Euros a day and the salary of first months is paid to a mediator.

As for Nani she also hadn’t found a job when she arrived in Italy, but her friend, who also worked for an Italian family, was waiting for her there. It took her two and a half months to find a job.

She says if she had a choice she would have come back with her children.

“But I don’t complain. I’m happy with my life here. I hear terrible stories about Georgians abroad and compared to them I have nothing to complain about.”