Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How Do You Say “Hello Women” in Filipino?

Nadine Moawad writes in Sawt....

But none of these encounters prepared us for the intensity of meeting Nana, a middle-aged Sri Lankan woman who has been working in Lebanon for over 25 years and spoke better Arabic than me. I introduced myself to her and asked her what she thought were the challenges facing migrant women. She looked at me skeptically, asked if I was Lebanese, said something to her friend, looked at me again silently for a few seconds, and then said: “Ok, I will tell you about problems.”

Nana had brought her daughter to Lebanon a few years ago to find work. Her daughter was recruited to work in the house of a family in Sin el Fil. Immediately, the abuse started from her employers. Less than one month after she had started work, she jumped from the balcony in an attempt to escape. She broke her legs, her front teeth, and suffered a bad head injury. The family refused to shoulder any responsibility or even allow her to receive proper medical care. Nana had to fight them fiercely on her own to sign the papers to allow her daughter to return to Sri Lanka to recover. “She is your maid,” she screamed at the Madame, “but she is my daughter. That is my daughter.” Her daughter eventually returned to Colombo in a wheelchair and till today suffers mental illness as a result of her trauma in Lebanon.

Nana finished her story and looked at me for another few seconds. “Are these ‘problems’ to you?” she asked, mocking my initial question. “Are these problems good enough for you?”

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