Our grannies - the Alexandrian women The massive female emigration from the Goriška region to Egypt in the second half of the 19th century started due to the fact that during the construction of the Suez Canal, and still more so after its opening in the year 1869, the number of European entrepreneurs.
The massive female emigration from the Goriška region to Egypt in the second half of the 19th century started due to the fact that during the construction of the Suez Canal, and still more so after its opening in the year 1869, the number of European entrepreneurs in Egypt, who settled above all in the cities of Alexandria and Cairo, increased. The country and middle-class girls from our area started to work for these rich European families as cooks, maids, nannies, wet nurses or governesses, dressmakers, etc.
Single women performed these jobs as their life profession. Most of the time they came home merely on visit and only once they retired they came back home for good. But in a much more difficult position were the married women and mothers who left their not more than a few months old baby at home and went to Egypt as well-paid wet nurses. Also the special expression »Aleksandrinke«, i.e. the Alexandrian Women*, in use in the Goriška area for these women, proves this massive phenomenon. They were named after the city of Alexandria, the city where the majority of the Slovenian women and girls got their job.
The reasons for this, mostly temporary, labour migration were predominantly of an economic nature. The earnings which the women sent home either by post or at times through relatives and friends, who went home on a visit or for good, was earmarked for the family to be able to survive, later it was intended for the children's education, the construction of a house or of a farm building. Usually the women got back home only once the necessary money was earned.
The last women from the Goriška region still serving in Egypt, returned home with »blisters on their soul" by the end of the 60ies and at the beginning of the 70ies of the 20th century, however, the phenomenon started to decrease already soon after the Second World War.
The expression »Aleksandrinke« is a specific term which was invented by the local people of the Goriška region for the girls and women who worked in Egypt at the time of the most intense expansion of the phenomenon and doesn't mean the inhabitants of Alexandria.
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