We’re in a cozy London coffee shop, each with a cappuccino in hand. As the raindrops patter on the pavement outside, Angelica tells us about her journey from Colombia to the UK.
“I’m from Colombia,” starts Angelica. “From the city of Medellin, the most beautiful place on earth.”
Our cheerful 73-year-old guest is clearly proud of where she’s from, eager to highlight the life she enjoyed back home.
“I had a good job working as a secretary, earning good money.”
But Angelica’s life didn’t come without its hardships. As she clutches her coffee mug and looks downwards, she tells us about her marriage at just 16 years old. Pressured by her parents into marrying a man who abused alcohol, she later gave birth to a boy and a girl.
“In those times, you got married simply because that’s what your parents expected from you, not because of love,” she says.
Concerned for the financial and emotional wellbeing of her children, Angelica took her two children and moved in with her sister. However, she quickly found that her money supply was running scarce as her family’s sole breadwinner. It was then that Angelica decided to emigrate to London with hopes of growing her income and sending money back to her sister and children.
Angelica’s sadness in leaving behind her son and daughter strengthened her determination to give them a better life than they would have had if she had stayed.
Then our mouths drop, speechless when Angelica tells us how quickly it took her to start working in London… just three days from arriving in the UK.
“I arrived at the Immigration Centre on a Saturday. My friends came to visit me on Sunday at my hostel in Brixton. They told me that I would start working on Monday.”
Angelica endured long, tiresome shifts, day and night as a cleaner. But she was quickly promoted until landing a supervisor role, in which she worked for the last ten years of her career. This gave her the financial means to follow through with her commitment to provide for her children in Colombia.
She sent money regularly to her sister who was looking after her two kids, as well as her own. She funded her children through university. She even bought each of them a house, giving them the independence to finally move out of their aunt’s home and become self-sufficient.
“I supported them a lot, which is why I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in my life. Even with my pension, I continue to help them out.”
A big smile beams from Angelica’s face as she tells us about the joy it brings her to stay in touch with her family. The wealth she built up gives her the freedom to go back regularly to Colombia and spend time with her son and daughter.
“We go on trips together… to Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla, San Andres…”
She emphasizes that she is now a great-grandmother and loves chatting with her family on video-calls.
“Gabriela, my great grand-daughter, is just four years old. She calls me Nanny. When we’re on the phone, she wants to see me on video. She says to me, ‘Nanny, Nanny! Show your face, I want to see you!’ She’s adorable.”
Having lived in London for almost 30 years, it begs the question if Angelica will ever return back to Colombia to live permanently. When we ask, she replies with a firm “no.”
“I will never go back to live in Colombia. I will die here. I love my country a lot, but I have everything I need right here… I live like a Queen!”
Angelica’s bold decision to emigrate to London allowed her to protect her children financially and care for their wellbeing. Her financial support meant they could finish their education and build bright careers in Colombia.
At Ria, we are proud to serve customers like Angelica, bridging the distance that separates them from their loved ones. Angelica’s accomplishment in building and sharing her wealth via money transfers provides hope to millions of immigrants around the world and serves as an inspiration to thousands of Ria employees. We’ll continue working hard to open ways for a better everyday life for you and your family.