Worlds Apart: The Families Separated by the Global Pandemic

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

The Shock of Redundancy

“We were at the Space Museum when we got the news,” says Jane, six-year Hong Kong resident and mother-of-two. “It was terrible. My husband was walking round trying his best to entertain the kids and be all enthusiastic about planets, and I was just crying. I couldn’t do anything else.” Jane’s husband, Ben, an airline pilot, had lost his job.

While not a total surprise – it had been eight months since Ben had last landed a plane at Hong Kong International Airport – it was, nevertheless, a massive blow. After six years in the SAR, the family was settled and had no desire to go back home to Australia. Ava, their daughter, had just started at a new secondary school and the family had forked out a hefty debenture to secure her place.

Fortunately, Ben had foreseen possible layoffs and had been keeping an eye out for other opportunities. Within a couple of hours, he had a new job lined up. The downside: it was in Singapore and the salary wasn’t enough to support the whole family moving there.

“My instant reaction was ‘you’ve got to go’” says Jane. “He’s a pilot, and he loves to fly. The offer meant he could carry on doing what he loved. We decided that I would stay here with the kids and try to get a job. I’m a teacher, and I’ve been doing supply work since we arrived. Now it’s on me to find something permanent because if I don’t, we have to go home.”

The first thing Jane had to do was find a smaller apartment. “I absolutely adored our flat, but we had to downsize,” she says. “I found that hard, but we didn’t have a choice. We found a place in the same area, so that’s been good. The children can still see their friends – Daddy might not be here right now, but at least they have some sort of familiarity, some consistency.”