Friday, August 19, 2011

Who needs more training, the maid – or “mister” and “madame”?

With “mister” and “madame” endlessly complaining about their maids, the maids being abused and overworked by their employers, and a suicide rate of one maid per week, the country needs a desperate call for action. There are several perceived solutions to the problem but applying them faces many obstacles. A new approach has been discussed recently in the media: an academy designed to train domestic workers for their future jobs.
Mr. Rachid Beydoun, the founder and director of The House Keeper Training Academy, has said that he believes that awareness and knowledge is the solution to the problem. In a feature article in The Daily Star, Mr. Beydoun stated, “Most people have some kind of problem with their maid but there is one simple solution to this and that is knowledge.” The academy, he claims, will offer domestic know-how to the maids by teaching them how to clean and how to behave in front of guests. The program also teaches domestic workers about their legal rights, all that in just four days and at a total cost of $180.
This suggested solution may help in creating awareness about the necessity of treating this labor sector as any other job that requires training; however, it may not tackle the fundamental problems that foreign domestic workers are facing.
As a response, the Migrants Workers Task Force (MWTF), a community of individuals committed to finding solutions to the challenges that domestic workers face as a group in Lebanese society, introduced the Mister/Madame Training Academy that aims to teach the maid’s employer how to respect human rights and treat other people. For only $10 covering three classes, employers can learn about basic human rights and how to respect other human beings.
Ms. Farah Salka, an MWTF activist, argues that an employer that has invested $180 for a four day training may expect the domestic worker to have perfected their skills in an unreasonable amount of time. Which will seldom be the case. This may increase chances of abuse and the prospects for offensive action either verbally or even physically. She adds that an academy like The House Keeper Training Academy won’t solve problems such as suicide rates, or follow up on investigations after the death of a maid or in the case of a maid not being paid at the end of the month.
Nevertheless, if The House Keeper Training Academy wishes to cooperate, MWTF is ready to assist the domestic workers in the academy by informing them about their rights. “If they agree to cooperate, we will, even though we are still convinced that it is unethical how this guy is making profit at the expense of the migrant workers,” said Ms. Salka.

*CORRECTION August 19, 2011: In the original article, we stated that according to investigations done by MWTF, The House Keeper Training Academy appeared not to exist since there was no address for it. However, since original publication, a sign for the academy has been located. We apologize for any misunderstanding caused.

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