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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 12:59 GMT
Family split by pull of the west
By Raymond Buchanan
BBC Scotland

Almost every community in Scotland now has a Polish presence.

Hundreds of thousands of young, economically active Poles have left their country and headed west.

The reasons for this are well known. Poland has suffered from high unemployment and low wages. Countries like the UK offer better salaries and a job market struggling to fill a skills shortage.

Janna Napiorkofski
Polish teacher Janna is now working in a shop in Inverness

But for the families left behind, separation from their loved ones is difficult.

In the city of Lodz, I met up with the Napiorkofski family as they gathered at home.

In the house were father Marek, mother Lilianna and daughter Marta. But someone was missing. Another daughter is making her living in the Highland capital of Inverness.

Janna is in her mid 20s and has a masters degree. Until last year she was working as a teacher in her home town, but despite her qualifications, she was poorly paid.

Now she works in an Inverness clothing store.

Janna said: "I worked with teenagers as a Polish teacher but I earned very little money, about 150 a month. Even in Poland those are very poor wages so I decided to go abroad to earn some money."

'Very, very sad'

Janna's family recognise the advantages of leaving Poland, but economics doesn't stop you missing your daughter.

Janna's mother said: "Despite the telephone or that we can see each other on the webcam it isn't the same as having close contact. Especially when I knew Janna was ill and I couldn't just go to see her and help. It's very, very sad."

Still at home in Lodz is Marta. She is also a teacher but has chosen to stay in Poland. As she flicks through a photo album of her high school she points to many of her former classmates who now live abroad.

Napiorkofski family
Janna's parents Marek and Lilianna miss their daughter

Marta is planning a reunion and she has been told most of her friends will be there, even those living outside Poland have promised to come.

For her it will be an emotional occasion. It depresses her that so many young Poles have decided to live away from home.

Marta said: "They don't have any choice. It is sad because we should have a chance to live the way we want to live and that is impossible in Poland for many. I don't like it."

The experience of the Napiorkofski family has been repeated many thousands of times since Poland joined the European Union in 2004.

The Warsaw government has put incentives in place for young people to head back east, but the trend in the opposite direction continues.

Until wages and job prospects match richer countries this migration is likely to continue.

Marta Napiorkofski wants to return to Lodz and perhaps train for a doctorate, but she doesn't know when that will be. For now she will continue selling clothes in Inverness.

Why Janna Napiorkofski moved to Inverness

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