Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Joanita Kasirye
The Black Expat: 'Bahrain Is Very Family-Friendly, Children Are Welcome Everywhere'
Joanita Kasirye, a 29-year-old Ugandan-British expat to Bahrain, moved to the Gulf island nation two years ago with her family.
“We decided to move to Bahrain for my husband’s career and also for a change of pace, Kasirye tolf Travel Noire. “It is quite different from the U.K. in terms of lifestyle and has great weather (except in the summer months). The currency being stronger here is also a bonus.”
Previously working in procurement and commercial contract management, Joanita is currently on a career break to be a full-time mother to her two young children. She says raising her family abroad can at times be difficult due to the lack of a support network like the one she had back home.
“Your family and friends who you trust with your children aren’t at hand, and that can be really isolating to be removed from that community at times.”
“My children are not school age yet, but I’m conscious of what their experience will be as potentially the only Black children in their class or even school. However, Bahrain is very family-friendly. Children are welcome everywhere, which isn’t always the case back in the U.K.”
“Childcare is a lot more affordable in Bahrain if you do need it. We also have private healthcare here versus the National Health Service back home, and I’m always grateful for how quickly you can get appointments here because that was not my experience with the NHS.”
Overall, Joanita says her experience living in Bahrain has been great thus far. She appreciates the country’s large expat population and how welcoming the natives are to people from all over.
“Bahrain is considered quite liberal in comparison to some other Gulf nations, so I haven’t come across as many cultural differences as I initially thought I might in terms of how I have to dress.”
“I try to remain mindful of religious holidays and buildings, for example not eating or drinking in front of people who are fasting during Ramadan and dressing appropriately if visiting a mosque.”
Joanita attributes her open-mindedness and willingness to relocate to a foreign country to her past travel experiences.
“As far back as I can remember, I have always really enjoyed experiencing new cultures, new foods, and meeting people from different walks of life. Travel opens up a whole world of possibilities for me.”
“I’m always open to new places and new experiences, and I’m not afraid of starting again from scratch. If I didn’t have so many earlier experiences of traveling with my parents, I don’t think I would have been able to move to Bahrain so easily.”
Joanita’s parents were both avid travelers before they met and immigrated to the U.K. to start a family. Growing up, Joanita traveled frequently with her family.
“My first trip was to Mombasa, Kenya at age three. As I got older I was keen to continue traveling.”
As far as a place where she felt the most welcome as a Black woman, Joanita says Uganda takes the cake.
“Because of my Ugandan heritage, I feel very at home there. I don’t stick out for my blackness, as everyone looks just like me!”
“I don’t think you can adequately explain what it feels like to grow up living as a minority and then go to a country where you are finally a part of the majority. It’s such a breath of fresh air and relief to not have to worry or plan ahead for the microaggressions or outright racism you’ll encounter that day.”
“I also love going back to Kenya for the same reasons and hope to visit more African countries once it is safe to travel again. It isn’t a perfect utopia; there are still the lasting legacies of colonialism and I wholeheartedly acknowledge that as someone who grew up in the Diaspora I do get afforded a certain level of privilege when visiting home. But in terms of feeling welcome, nowhere else comes close.”
Joanita says a Black person visiting Africa will have a very different experience than they would in certain European markets where they may find themselves being called by the names of various Black celebrities. Joanita has been called everyone from Beyonce to Michelle Obama in Europe.
You can follow more of Joanita’s journey at @theblackgirlexpat.