Thursday, February 10, 2011

Migrant Workers Task Force Updates

The updates for the MWTF group are as follows:

-Language Classes
Classes to be taught each Sunday in Hamra for Arabic, English, and French (and maybe computer). First class will be February 20 at 1230 PM. T Marbouta kindly offered their library space.

- Poster Translations
So far, we got Malagasy, English, Tagalog and Ethiopian.
If anything is added by today, it is good to go. Anything we do not get by today, we will go on without it at this stage. Please someone translate to proper Arabic and French and send me so I print.
Farah will be printing and photocopying the papers. We need to post them up in Hamra, Bourj Hammoud and Dawra by Saturday maximum so they are up and readable by this Sunday.

- Weekly Meeting
We will have our last meeting next Wednesday at 530 at Nasawiya. After that, we will make our weekly meetings every Sunday before or after class. We will look into that.

- Guide book idea
Will be put on hold for now.

- Organizational issue
We currently have 3 running initiatives on board: vigils, marches, classes. So as not to spam people who are not interested in all of them with emails, we will create 2 new google groups for the vigils and the marches. For people who want to be on those groups, let me know so I add you. This would keep the MWTS group specifically for language classes related issues and a space to propose new ideas.

We will have coordinators for each initiative. So if you have a question about something in specific, you know who to ask.
March- Alex
Vigils- Ali
Classes- Janie

- Vigils
The initial idea was to target the homes of migrant workers who have been abused, murdered, or have committed suicide in the Beirut area with vigils and information so as to stigmatize this violence and inform communities about its presence.
Vigils are protests that happen right after, hopefully 1 day after, a migrant worker dies (killed, suicide, regardless).
If the location the death happens is accessible to people, we will have the protest under the employer's house/ agency.

If it is far away, we will have it somewhere symbolic in Hamra which so far will be the Ministry of Interior.

We came up with the most brilliant idea in the meeting *light bulb* which is that we need to create our own symbolic space. What will it be? Just like we have tons of statues around the country for different "martyr" politicians in Lebanon (who all happen to be male martyrs because our history never included any female martyrs but that is another topic:)), we decided that it is high time we change the formula for this and we create the statue for the "unknown female migrant domestic worker" (just like the unknown soldier).

So the priority now goes to finding a brilliant artist who is willing to work on doing this project on the spot. When we have this statue, it will be a moving statue which we take with us to each vigil we do (until one day in the future, Lebanon accepts to let us put that statue up somewhere forever to honor all those who have died on Lebanese soil with no one to investigate their deaths ro remember their many names). The statue will be the thing that will create meaning for us to be protest on a specific location. So next time we have a vigil, we will say next to the statue (we need a name for it) in Hamra or Ash or Korniche for instance, and people go there and search for it. When they find the statue, they find the place for the vigil.

But until we do that, Ministry of Interior is our space.

- Marches
The difference between marches and vigils, is that we do not know how many vigils we might do. It might be one every 2 weeks or one every 6 months (I hope but doubt). Vigils happens as a reaction to a case. Marches will happen regardless of the death toll. We will decide to have them lets say every 1st Sunday of the month or something like that.
They will be a walking protest to highlight the situation, specifically also in terms of uninvestigated deaths of migrant workers. We will build a symbolic coffin and walk with it. So the idea is to have a trumpet funeral march around Hamra, a couple of people holding the coffin (and names are always being added to that coffin), someone with the trumpet, someone putting out fliers, and someone talking to people. We will work on the coffin next Wednesday meeting.

- Tasks
Putting posters up for classes
Confirmation on who is coming to classes
Finding an artist
Finding a trumpet guy/girl

If you would like to join any of the present initiatives, ask questions or suggest ideas, please write us at

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