Zeina Mohanna, Program Coordinator for the Support of Migrant Domestic Workers and Victims of Human Trafficking
Many migrant domestic workers in Lebanon suffer from exploitation, violence, discrimination and trafficking. In the process of their empowerment and for enhanced respect for their human rights and dignity, Amel Association distributed certificates for 75 migrants who attended English, French, Arabic and computer literacy classes, These activities are provided throughout the year, on a weekly basis, in the center of Chiah in the suburbs of Beirut.
This initiative is funded by SDC, which seeks a higher respect for migrants’ rights through empowerment, advocacy, provision of services, coordination and research.
The ceremony was led by the migrants themselves, as part of their empowerment, and included testimonies of beneficiaries on the impact of the classes on their quality of life. “Learning English allows me to better communicate with my Madame (the employer) and to find a higher paid job later on”, said Amalmal from Ethiopia.
A woman benefiting from social and legal support to her and her children burst into tears on stage. This case is among many cases with restricted rights and freedoms and requiring support and access to justice.
Four leader women of the migrants performed a very funny sketch that caused constant laughing of the audience. They had a role play of two Lebanese Employers, one dealing with the migrant with a superior attitude where the fundamental freedoms are restricted and her human rights are abused, and another Lebanese employer respecting her rights and dignity. The migrant came up with this sketch that highlights the empowerment process to advocate for their rights. This includes no days off, limited time of rest, restriction of movement and communication with family, non-payment of salary at the end of the month and other issues. Amel aims at raising awareness among employers and employees to advocate for migrants’ rights based on the ILO Convention 189 for Decent work, and to be able to defend themselves based on informed knowledge when faced with similar situations.
Receiving the certificates brought lots of joy and feelings of accomplishment to the ladies, especially to the ones who were illiterate and never had a diploma in their home country. The courses they attend are a wonderful step forward in ensuring the rights of this vulnerable group and supporting them in realizing their dreams. Migrants celebrated with dancing and food of their countries that allowed them to express their culture in a safe space that resects their dignity.