Imagine going years without seeing your mother and knowing she’s in a different country taking care of other people’s children. That is the truth for lots of children in the Dominican Republic. Nana, a documentary by Tatiana Fernández Geara, explores the heartbreaking journey Dominican nannies must take so they can send money to their children back home.
The documentary focuses on the Dominican women who work as nannies in the US.
The women are usually hired to be live-in nannies by affluent families the U.S. Some, like Clara, go several years without seeing their own children and end up becoming surrogate parents for the children they nanny.
One of the mothers in Nana says she had no choice but to leave her children behind in search of better opportunity.
“I have to work to support them,” Fina says in the documentary. “Or have everyone starve to death back home. It’s one or the other.”
Despite finding better paying jobs, the mothers constantly worry about their own children.
“Sometimes you’re eating and you don’t know if your kids have eaten,” says Leidy, one of the nannies featured in the doc. The nannies must rely on their family members back home to care for their children.
Leidy’s two children are back in San Juan, DR where they are being looked after by their grandmother.
Leidy’s grandmother says she’s used to it. “The only grandkids I haven’t raised are the ones in San Francisco,” Leidy’s grandmother says. “I’ve had up to 12 grandkids at once here in this shack.”
Back in the US, the nannies form such a strong bond with the children they take care of, that the kids see them as their own mothers.
“I feel like Leidy is my mom and I feel like mom is Leidy,” says one of the children being taken care of by Leidy.
Their choice to raise other people’s children has brought up some questions about motherly love.
“It would be love, dedication, devotion,” Fina says in response to the question. “And many other things.”
And despite being so far from their kids, they still think motherly love is a beautiful thing.
“The most beautiful feeling.”