This year migrant workers will send some $230 billion to their families back home. That capital is keeping many in the developing world afloat
On three continents, migrants and their families described how the transfers worked.
Nine years ago, Cornelio Zamora left his home in Zacapoaxtla, Mexico, paying a smuggler $2,500 to take him across the Rio Grande into the U.S. He had been unable to support his wife and four children on the $7 a day he earned as a bus driver.
Working as a house painter in San Jose, California, Zamora, 48, now sends about $700 a month home. His wife says she has based all family decisions — where to send the children to school, what house to live in — on Zamora's monthly earnings "on the other side."
In Mexico, the Zamora family home is another tangible indicator of the impact of remittances. Zamora's work in California has paid for a new three-bedroom house, the first his family has ever owned.
The changes his cash have brought to his family within one generation are dizzying; one daughter has trained as a nurse, another as a teacher, and his son as a radio technician. "The first time I wore shoes, I was 14 years old," Zamora says. "I don't want my family to go through that."
[Excerpted from a TIME magazine article, by Vivenne Walt]