Monday, March 30, 2015

HuffPost Part II

It's sad how many who advocate for the rights of Lebanese women can be so blind to the issues of thousands of migrant women in our society. You either advocate for women's' rights-- full stop-- or you don't. And domestic workers' rights rights are--and should be--at the forefront of this.

Check our second part of the interview at HuffPost.

From Resisting Definition to Resisting Exploitation: The Ongoing Struggle of Domestic Workers in Lebanon


The dehumanization, both at the legal and the personal level, of these racialized working-class women from the Global South is responsible for the perpetuation and invisibility of their suffering. The Lebanese public should call for an urgent reform of the inhumane "kafala" sponsorship system in which they work.

Read on Truth-Out

North Lebanon maid was on hunger strike before suicide: ministry

"Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi called for the investigation to continue in the case. He faulted the employers for not acting “humanely,” knowing that she had been on a hunger strike and was in despair. It is unacceptable to detain a maid when she’s a mother without notifying the maid agency or the Labor Ministry so that the necessary measures are taken,” the statement said.
“Considering the incident a suicide is not enough to close the case,” Azzi was quoted as saying in the statement.

Ten days after this statement is a good time to ask Mr. Azzi on what the investigation of his ministry has reached.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I Have a Dream for Justice in Lebanon

*Reminder*

A video made on International Migrant's Day 2012.
Always relevant.

27%

9 more days left on indiegogo and 102 supporters to keep MCC going so far:)
Are you one of them?
Keep spreading the word and thank you so much!

Freedom and a Future for Annie

Annie is a 20 year old girl from Kenya who is stuck in Lebanon. Her single mother died in an accident a few years ago, and she has been looked after by her older brother. Surviving on his jobs as a carpenter and a driver, they could only sometimes afford the tuition for Annie to study Engineering at the university in Nairobi. So when a recruiter told her she could make the needed money in Lebanon, she thought it was a godsend, and bravely traveled alone. When she arrived, her employers, a university professor and an event planner, forced her to work 19 hours a day, 7 days a week, without enough food, and refused to ever pay her after the first month. Annie has the legal right to return home within the first 3 months, but the family broke the contract by making her clean 3 houses, denying her food, accommodation and time off, and refused to let her leave when she chose to, 2 weeks in. When she asked to be paid, she was slapped and kicked and her life was threatened.

Read Annie's full story here and support her to a better, happier, faster future on this link.

All thanks to Anke.

عاملات المنازل الأجنبيات.. لا قدّيسات ولا ملائكة

Assafeer

- عايشين متل الأخوة بالبيت.. والجيران بيشهدوا.
- لا عيني، هيدا بيت محترم فيه قوانين. بدها تلتزم شو منقول وغصباً عنها كمان.
- فش مرّة بروح عالسوق جيب اغراض إلي، إلاّ بجبلها معي.
- لما نحنا نقول فوتي نامي بدّها تروح ولمّا نقلها كلي ساعتها بتاكل، نهايتها خدّامة عنّا.
- والله كلّ ما امرق من حدّ بيتهن ولاقي خدّامتهن قاعدة برّا قلبي بيحرقني عليها. بعطيها ألف تشتري فيه. حرام معترين.
- تطبخ هيي أكل من أكلاتهن؟ عمى ريحتها كيف بتطلع. بتبقى متل هون وهونيك. تفه، أكيد لا.
- برمضان، والله بترك بيتي لجبله إفطاره على المحلّ.
- لا مش ع ذوقها. شعراتها بدّهن ينقصّوا.
- يتحمّم؟ هههه ولا مرة خطرلي. بيغسّل بالمحل في مي كتير وفي حمّام.
- جبتلها شحّاطة من أسبوعين كيّفت فيها.
- اي بدها تتحجّب مش على خاطرها. وبدها تتشهّد لتطهر الأغراض تحت إيدها.
تحضر نون الجماعة في أغلب الجمل أعلاه. نُبرم اتفاقاً جماعيّاً يقضي بتحييد الكائن الذي أتانا إلى بيوتنا وأماكن عملنا للمساعدة، مستبدلين إيّاه بنون الجماعة. هي "سيرلكنيّتنا من أثيوبيا" وهو "الهندي تبع بابا بالمحلّ". عادي. تمرّ الجمل بطلاقة هائلة. اعتدناها لدرجة تحوّل معها الموضوع إلى كليشيه مملّ.

انتحرت؟ عادي كلّهن هيك مريضين، مدري كيف.
انتحرت؟ بتكون حبلى.
انتحرت؟ بيكونوا لقطوها عم تسرق.



From our MCC Markets




Friday, March 27, 2015

Thank You

Thank you all for the HUGE outpouring of support! Our Indiegogo fundraiser has made more funds in the last few days than in the last 2 weeks!! Due to this sudden upswing, the lovely people at indiegogo have kindly extended our campaign by a few days

MCC

Classes at the Migrant Community Center:)




Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lebanon’s maid trade is modified slavery

"The [agency] informed me that the company does its best not to recruit maids who are prone to depression or are otherwise problematic. One rule of thumb is to avoid anyone who has worked in other Arab countries, 'where they treat maids like slaves'"
- What a horrible and telling statement - but at least it shows some self-awareness!

Read on AlJazeera

This is where a migrant worker employed by Sodeco Square lives. In one of their tiny toilet stalls. This violates the most basic human rights of any employee. Sodeco Square employers, it is shameful that you are not even upholding the extremely low-standard contract you signed, which made you responsible for ensuring "decent working conditions" and "accommodation". We see a lawsuit in your future! (Lebanese government, it is even more shameful that your employment contract is so vague and minimally protective that it can allow for slavery conditions!)

***















'Yesterday at the public toilet stalls of Sodeco Square (Beirut) we found this: the living quarters of the migrant worker employed to clean the premises. The last stall in the corner. Unbelievably tiny, BUT, with it's own toilet seat inside. The photos tell the rest. The woman herself was sitting outside the toilets. Sodeco Square is quite a large outfit, with many stores and offices renting space there. I'm sure they can afford to treat employees with decency and dignity.' - Muna Khalidi

Campagne de financement pour le Migrant Workers Center

And here is out fundraiser covered in French on Agenda Culturel:)
Merci!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lebanese domestic workers to unionize

AlMonitor

'She worked for 22 years as a maid in Lebanon before deciding to resign and fully dedicate herself to the union. “How can I fight for my rights if I work all the time?” she asked. “Now we are only getting stronger. There is no answer from the government, but we will succeed,” she added before joining the stage and sing the new anthem of foreign workers in Lebanon: “Solidarity forever/The union makes us strong.”'



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LBC Report about the MCC

Thank you LBC News for a great report about the Migrant Community Center- Lebanon and our fundraiser 


Watch here!

Construction giant accused of 'modern slavery' in Qatar

PARIS

'Accusing it of practicing "modern slavery," a French campaign group has filed a legal complaint against construction giant Vinci for grave mistreatment of migrant workers in Qatar, the host country of the 2022 World Cup.

Vinci responded that it "totally refutes" the charges and will file a counter-suit against the group, Sherpa, for libel. Vinci's Qatar subsidiary QDVC has contracts worth 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in the Gulf state.

Sherpa's complaint, if acted upon by French prosecutors, could increase pressure on Qatar and companies engaged there to improve conditions for guest workers. The rich Gulf state is relying on their muscle for massive public works that are transforming the capital, Doha, for the first World Cup in the Middle East.'

MCC

At the Migrant Community Center this weekend:)




Vital Collaboration in Lebanon, Part Two

Kumera Genet interviews ARM and sheds lights on our MCC's ongoing fundraising campaign on HuffPost.
Here's a link to part 2:)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Housekeeper tragedies are stark consequence of Lebanese laissez-faire

But can we really blame anyone for offering a discount on staff when virtually the whole country has embraced a culture that is tantamount to slavery?

Furthermore, a very shameful culture of segregation has evolved and at no time is it better demonstrated than during the summer months. When Lebanon’s beach clubs operate a door policy that would not have been out of place in apartheid South Africa.

............

Like most pressing social issues in Lebanon – the smoking ban and various failed driving laws spring to mind – everyone knows what the problems are, but no one with any real influence has done anything to ensure they achieve any “grip”, and this includes how we treat migrant workers. The maid trade is big business after all, with plenty of opportunity for kickbacks and bribes.

But the tragic stories of those who clearly don’t have a voice continue to surface in spite of the first registered domestic workers’ union being created in January.

Last week, while the Lebanese social networks were buzzing with bleeding heart indignation, yet another maid committed suicide – it happens far too often – this time in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

Melika Begum was found hanged in her bedroom at her employer’s home. She had initially asked to return home to Sri Lanka after confessing she missed her children, but presumably her employers refused.

I hope we all had a happy Mother’s Day.

Full piece on The National

Confessions of a Lebanese man who is scared of shaking hands with black people.

'I suppose it would be stating the obvious but Sultan doesn’t have a black-people-and-their-skin-color-being-too-dissolvable-phobia, he is plainly yet another Lebanese racist who thinks he can get away with it just because the country he exists in enables this.

This is not a matter of opinion. This not a matter of freedom of speech. This is not even a matter that is up for analysis: Sultan is yet another Lebanese who thinks black people are beneath him because of their skin color, because he’s probably used to see them being abused at the jobs their life conditions force them to undertake, because he’s just so much better for being white. And that is the only truth here.''








On 'A Separate State of Mind'

Mother's Day

At the Migrant Community Center:)




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lebanon: Recognize Domestic Workers Union

Reposting with updated list of signatures.

***

(Beirut) – Lebanese authorities should recognize a union for domestic workers, who are excluded from the protection of the Lebanese labor code, more than 100 nongovernmental organizations said today. Ensuring the right to freedom of association for domestic workers would help to strengthen the legal protection mechanisms for domestic workers, many of whom experience abuse in Lebanon.

On December 29, 2014, six Lebanese workers submitted a request to the Labor Ministry to form such a union. With support of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Union Federation (ITUC), and the Federation of Trade Unions of Workers and Employees (FENASOL) in Lebanon, approximately 350 domestic workers of various nationalities gathered for the union’s inaugural congress on January 25, 2015. But union members said they have received no response to their request, and Labor Minister Sejaan Azzidenounced the union as illegal, media reports said.

“Instead of slamming the union proposal, Minister Azzi should push forward on longstanding promises to protect the rights of domestic workers and bring abusers of migrant domestic workers to justice,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “These workers, some of Lebanon’s most vulnerable, urgently need a protective structure so that they can advocate for change and have productive dialogue with the government and employers.”

The union proposal would include domestic workers and others who provide care in homes for the elderly and those with disabilities, those who provide cleaning services in homes and offices, and some other similar categories.

Article 7 of the Lebanese labor code, enacted in 1946, specifically excludes domestic workers, both Lebanese and migrants, denying them protections afforded other workers. Families in Lebanon employ an estimated 250,000 migrant domestic workers, primarily from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Nepal. Whilearticle 92 of the labor code allows some foreign workers to join unions and associations, the code has been interpreted to bar union membership for domestic workers and others excluded from the labor law. Under article 92, all foreign workers are also explicitly denied the right to elect or be elected as representatives of a union.

As a result, thousands of workers have been denied the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and there are inadequate legal safeguards for migrant workers and some Lebanese laborers, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Lebanon should treat all workers in accordance with international human rights law, which requires all countries to respect the rights of everyone in their territory to freedom of association, without discrimination, the organizations said.

In addition to a lack of labor protection, domestic workers are subject to restrictive immigration rules based on Lebanon’s sponsorship-based kafala system that puts them at risk of exploitation and makes it difficult for them to leave abusive employers. The high incidence of abuse and inadequate government response has led several countries, including Ethiopia, to bar their citizens from working in Lebanon.

The most common complaints documented by the embassies of labor-sending countries and nongovernmental groups include mistreatment by recruiters, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, forced confinement to the workplace, a refusal to provide any time off, forced labor, and verbal and physical abuse. A 2010 Human Rights Watch report highlighted Lebanon’s poor record of punishing abuse against domestic workers.

A migrant domestic worker from Cameroon named Rose who attended the inaugural congress told the organizations that her employer confiscated her passport when she arrived in Lebanon and that she was forced to work seven days a week. She signs an employment contract at a notary’s office each year but it is written in Arabic so she has no idea what it says.

“When I asked my employer for details, they just told me that it was for my residency application at General Security and nothing else,” she said. ”Workers, both Lebanese and migrants, need real labor contracts that respect and guarantee our rights. We call on everyone in civil society to speak out against these violations and help us push for change.”

Kawthar, a Lebanese woman living in Beirut, has done domestic work for seven years since her husband died. “My previous employer used to make me work very long hours and one time refused to pay me at the end of the month, saying he was poor and didn’t have any money,” she said. “But I knew he was lying and just trying to exploit me.”

Kawthar has learned to stand up for herself and now has better employers. “Now if someone causes me problems, I have the tools to defend myself,” she said. “I want to use the union to educate other workers on their rights so that they can defend themselves too.”

Mustapha Said, senior workers’ specialist at the ILO in Beirut, told the organizations during an interview that Lebanese domestic workers also endure difficult working conditions and acknowledged that more attention should be given to this issue.

A Lebanese decision to deny domestic workers the right to form a union would violate the country’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which it is party. Lebanon’s obligations under the ICCPR, including to non-citizens in its territory, stipulates that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” It further requires that “no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those which are … necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security or public safety.” The ICCPR requires Lebanon to ensure that everyone in its territory can exercise freedom of association, “without distinction of any kind.”

Under the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, everyone has the right “[t]o form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups” for the “purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

In June 2011, Lebanon voted in favor of the ILO’s adoption of Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, the treaty that protects domestic workers, but has yet to take steps to ratify the treaty or bring itself in compliance. The ILO convention establishes the first global standards for the estimated 50 million to 100 million domestic workers worldwide. Under article 3, domestic workers are guaranteed the right to freedom of association.

Other key elements of the convention require governments to provide domestic workers with labor protections equivalent to those of other workers, including minimum wage salaries, social security, and the right to retain their passports and identity documents; to monitor recruitment agencies rigorously; and to protect workers against violence. Unlike with other international conventions, the ILO’s bylaws prohibit the ratification of conventions with reservations.

Lebanon should ratify ILO convention no. 189 and implement its provisions. Lebanon should also ratify ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, which states that “workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organization concerned, to join organizations of their own choosing without previous authorisation.” This convention is one of the eight core ILO conventions. Although Lebanon has not ratified the convention, it is committed under the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work to respect and promote key principles and rights, including freedom of association and to collective bargaining, before having ratified the relevant conventions.

The Labor Ministry reportedly has said it is developing a draft new labor law, based on ILO convention no. 189, but the details have yet to be made public. Despite repeated public announcements by Lebanese officials that they would improve conditions for migrant domestic workers, reforms have been insignificant.

The Lebanese government should amend the labor code or adopt a new law to protect the rights of domestic workers and to abolish the kafala system, the organizations said. A new law to protect domestic workers should, at a minimum, ensure equality with all workers included in the labor law. Such measures should also ensure the right to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining without discrimination to all workers.

“Migrant workers obtain a visa before they come to Lebanon and live and work here in a legal way, so why deny them of their fundamental right to organize?” said Castro Abdallah, president of the Federation of Trade Unions of Workers and Employees in Lebanon.

Unions and workers’ organizations have helped push a wave of improved labor laws and enforcement for domestic workers in many countries, including protections on minimum wage, hours of work, rest periods, social security, and recruitment.

The ITUC says it has recorded the formation of new domestic worker unions in 12 countries in the past three years: Pakistan, Chile, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Egypt, Swaziland, Angola, and Brazil.

The International Domestic Worker Federation consists of 55 domestic worker organizations and union affiliates, including from countries of origin for Lebanon, such as Nepal, Indonesia, and the Philippines. There are also numerous other trade unions or workers’ organizations that include domestic workers among their members. Lebanon would be out of step with growing global momentum on domestic workers organizing if it fails to recognize the new union, the organizations said.
Signatories:
  1. ALEF- act for human rights
  2. Amnesty International
  3. Anti-Racism Movement (ARM)
  4. Centre for Lebanese Studies
  5. Federation of Trade Unions of Workers and Employees (FENASOL)
  6. Union of construction workers
  7. Union of the Bekaa
  8. Union of hotels workers
  9. Union of printing workers
  10. Union of textile workers
  11. Food workers union
  12. Union of bakery workers
  13. Committee of the agriculture workers in the South
  14. Committee of Fishermen Syndicate in Saida
  15. Syndicate of painting workers
  16. Committee of the workers in "VAL" company
  17. Committee of the workers of ministry of finance syndicate
  18. Syndicate of tile workers
  19. Union of domestic workers.
  20. Front Line Defenders
  21. Human Rights Watch (HRW)
  22. International Crisis Group (ICG)
  23. International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF)
  24. FILCAMS CGIL , Italy
  25. National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), USA
  26. Jamaica Household Workers Union, Jamaica
  27. Centro de Apoyo y Capacitación para Empleadas del Hogar CACEH, Mexico
  28. Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU), Hong Kong and its affiliates:
  29. Hong Kong Domestic Workers General Union (HKDWGU),
  30. Progressive Labour Union of Domestic Workers in Hong Kong (PLUDW-HK)
  31. Union of Nepalese Domestic Workers in Hong Kong (UNDW-HK)
  32. Thai Migrant Workers Union (TMWU)
  33. Overseas Domestic Workers Union (ODWU)
  34. National House Manager Cooperative (NHMC), South Korea
  35. National Domestic Workers Federation (NDWF), India
  36. National Domestic Workers Movement (NDWM), India
  37. Home Workers Trade Union of Nepal (HUN), Nepal
  38. National Domestic Women Workers Union (NDWWU), Bangladesh
  39. Jala PRT, Indonesia, with:
  40. Serikar PRT Tunas Mulia, Indonesia
  41. KOY, Indonesia
  42. Serikat PRT Merdeka, Indonesia
  43. Serikat PRT Sapulidi, Indonesia
  44. Serikat PRT Sumut, Indonesia
  45. IPROFOTH instituto de promocion y formacion de trabajadoras del hogar PERU
  46. FENTRAHOGARP federacion nacional de trabajadoras del hogar del PERU
  47. CCTH centro de capacitacio de trabajadoras del hogar PERU
  48. Network of Domestic Workers in Thailand, Thailand
  49. Cambodia Domestic Workers Network (CDWN), Cambodia
  50. South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU), South Africa
  51. Conservation, Hotels, Domestic and Allied Workers' Union (CHODAWU), Tanzania
  52. Conservation, Hotels, Domestic and Allied Workers' Union (CHODAWU), Zanzibar
  53. Uganda Hotels, Food, Tourism & Allied Workers Union (UHFTAWU), Uganda
  54. Commercial, Industrial & Allied Workers Union (CIAWU), Malawi
  55. Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied Workers Union (ZDAWU), Zimbabwe
  56. SYNEM - Syndicat National des Employés de Maison , Guinea
  57. Kenya Union of Domestic,Hotels,Education Institutions,Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA), Kenya
  58. Domestic Services Workers Union (DSWU), Ghana
  59. SYHEHM, Benin
  60. National Trade Union of Domestic Workers (SINED), Mozambique
  61. Domestic Workers Union of Burkina-Faso, Burkina-Faso
  62. SAHDAR, Indonesia
  63. LAP Damar, Indonesia
  64. LBH Jakarta, Indonesia
  65. LBH Apik Jakarta, Indonesia
  66. FSPSI Reformasi, Indonesia
  67. Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia
  68. RUMPUN Tjoet Njak Dien, Indonesia
  69. Perisai, Indonesia
  70. LAP Damar, Indonesia
  71. KAPPD, Indonesia
  72. Mitra ImaDei, Indonesia
  73. KAPAL Perempuan, Indonesia
  74. RUMPUN Gema Perempuan, Indonesia
  75. Domestic Workers Rights Network (DWRN), Bangladesh
  76. SINTRAHOGARP sindicato nacional de trabajadoras del hogar del PERU TIVO DE ORGANIZACIONES Y SINDICATOS DE TRABAJADORAS DEL HOGAR DEL PERU
  77. FEDERACIÓN DE TRABAJADORA DOMESTICAS “JULIA HERRERA DE POMRES” NICARAGUA.
  78. International Trade Union Federation (ITUC)
  79. BMSF, Bangladesh
  80. KSPI/CITU, Indonesia
  81. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). Australia
  82. All Nepal Federation of Trade Union (ANTUF), Nepal
  83. Chinese Federation of Labour (CFL), Taiwan
  84. Konfederasi Serikat Buruh Sejahtera Indonesia (KSBSI), Indonesia
  85. Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC), Fiji
  86. FTUC Women’s Committee, Fiji
  87. Hong Kong Countil of Trade Unions (HKCTU), Hong Kong
  88. Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Philippines
  89. Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions (VCTU), Vanuatu
  90. Sri Lanka Nidahas Sweaka Sangamaya (SLNSS), Sri Lanka
  91. Sabah Commercial Employees Union, Malaysia
  92. All Pakistan Trade Union Congress, Pakistan
  93. Thai Trade Union Congress (TTUC), Thailand
  94. FKTU, South Korea
  95. NZCTU, New Zealand
  96. SENTRO, Philippines
  97. United Domestic Workers of the Philippines
  98. International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF-UITA-IUL)
  99. KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation
  100. Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)
  101. Legal Agenda
  102. Migrant Community Center (MCC)
  103. Migrant Workers Task Force (MWTF)
  104. Tamkeen Fields for Aid
  105. The Association Justice and Mercy (AJEM)
  106. Frontiers Ruwad
  107. Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

North Lebanon 'maid' was on hunger strike before suicide: ministry



“Recently, the maid had been asking to go back to her country and see her children, the pictures of whom she had been carrying,” the statement said. “She refused to eat during her last three days and then committed suicide by hanging.”


Friday, March 20, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Madame and Nobel Prize

BEIRUT.com –

In a striking gesture and truly unprecedented event, migrant domestic worker Tigist Hadero has contacted the Norwegian Nobel Committee (the board responsible for selecting the Nobel Peace Prize laureates) and requested that her Madame, a Mrs. Cherine Atallah, be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015, and then again every year until her death.

Hadero, who was purchased as part of a Mother's Day special featuring deals on Kenyan and Ethiopian nationalities, has been enslaved, sorry – employed – by Atallah’s entire family for nine years now; and we say the entire family because even the children act like high-level executives.

“My Madame is the best, why shouldn't she have a Nobel prize?” asked Hadero, 23, “She wakes up at eleven and runs the household perfectly, and still has time to hit the gym two times a week,” added Hadero. The young housekeeper said that she starts her workday at six in the morning and works quietly for a few hours so as not to wake her Madame because “great minds need rest."

“Madame Cherine must also be a psychologist because she understands the human mind perfectly. She barters with me using the classic system of positive reinforcement. If I do my job well, I get to call my children once a month,” said Hadero nodding approvingly.

Hadero went on to describe the complex relationship she shares with her Madame, stating that Atallah is more than just a mere employer, but rather a friend who is always willing to give an honest opinion, even when it hurts. “Who else would be willing to tell me that I am embarrassing them in front of the guests because my clothes don’t match? Nobody. Madame Cherine is a true friend; she tells me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it.”

Hadero expressed hopes that one day her children might also enjoy bright futures as housekeepers in households owned by Madame Cherine’s children.

Disclaimer for the slow and un-funny: this is a satirical blog post.

'Indulge Your Mom?'

This is for real.


17%

12 more days left on indiegogo and 60 supporters to keep MCC going so far:)
Are you one of them?
Keep spreading the word and thank you so much!

Nepalese Dinner Night - Momos (DUMPLINGS)

Who's in the mood for DUMPLINGS?

Mark your calendars! MCC has the pleasure to invite you to our third Nepalese dinner night. Come taste our chicken dumplings (Momos), have some soup, and get yourself some noodles! All this on Saturday March 21st at 7:30PM in Gemmayze.

Laxmi Chettri from Nepal will be cooking for the night. Come with your friends and compliments!

DEAL:
- One plate (Chicken dumplings, Nepalese vegetable noodles, soup) with open soft drinks: 18,000LL
- Plate refill: 5,000LL

This dinner night will be taking place at the MIGRANT COMMUNITY CENTER (MCC) in Gemmayze! Take the first right after the police station (at La Tabkha), then the first left into an alley. It is the last building (white one) - second floor. See map below. Call us on 70/796751 if you need any help!

Proceeds (and compliments) go to the cook and to help support MCC's activities. Fabulous Nepalese music will accompany the night.

PS: Chef Laxmi will only be cooking for the first 25 attendees, come early or call 70/796751 for reservations!

Fb link

Monday, March 16, 2015

Biking Day

And we organized our first biking trip at MCC - bicycles and tricycles:)
It was sunny and beautiful. Join us next time!
















Check all pictures here.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Goodbye Awatef!

 Awatef from Sudan has been waiting in Lebanon for her and her family's refugee resettlement for more than 20 years. She was recently informed that she will be leaving to Canada. Awatef's friends organized a dinner farewell celebration for her and her family at MCC. We wish her a bright future ahead!





All photos on our MCC page.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Understanding Kafala

A great piece on Migrant-Rights detailing the ins and outs of Kafala, a brief history and good resource links on the subject. Pretty comprehensive and informative.

***

When reading about conditions of migrant workers in the Middle East, you will inevitably come across criticism of the kafala, or sponsorship system. Human rights groups say the migration management system enables exploitation and forced labor—labor extracted by under the threat of penalty, and not offered voluntarily by the worker. The media have likened employment conditions under kafala to “modern-day slavery.” In response, governments in the region have repeatedly promised to abolish or reform the kafala system. Despite these promises, meaningful change in the system always remains just over the horizon, with only slight and halting reforms in a few of the Gulf countries (see sidebar).

Meanwhile, rigid sponsorship laws and regulations continue to define the choices and conditions of the millions of migrant workers in the region. Most of these migrants come from South or Southeast Asian or Africa. The majority are low-wage construction or service-industry workers, or domestic workers who toil under even harsher restrictions with far fewer protections. But even highly-paid and professional workers have suffered due to sponsorship regulations. There is no path to permanent residency or naturalization in Gulf countries, aside from marrying a citizen. All foreign residents are subject to the kafala system.

Clearly, understanding kafala is key to understanding why many migrant workers in the region find themselves in difficult or impossible situations, including conditions that amount to forced labor. But what exactly is the kafala system? Is it the same in every Gulf country? Is it solely to blame for migrant workers’ problems in the region? And why is it so bad, exactly?

Migrant-Rights.org provides the following guide to the kafala systems that governs labor migration in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), as well as for most workers in Lebanon and Jordan. Note that the kafala system does not govern all migrant workers in Lebanon; for example Syrian workers who have other routes to residency, and in Jordan, where special economic and trade zones are exempted from these restrictions.

The word “kafala” means sponsorship in Arabic.

What most people currently refer to as the kafala or sponsorship system consists of the laws governing migrant workers’ immigration to and legal residence in countries in the Middle East—primarily Gulf countries. While some countries, like Qatar, have an explicit law called the “sponsorship law,” others, such as Kuwait, include these provisions in their residency or immigration laws.

The system gives sponsors a set of legal abilities to control workers: without the employer’s permission, workers cannot change jobs, quit jobs, or leave the country. If a worker leaves a job without permission, the employer has the power to cancel his or her residence visa, automatically turning the worker into an illegal resident in the country. Workers whose employers cancel their residency visas often have to leave the country through deportation proceedings, and many have to spend time behind bars.

Kafala regulation is overseen and enforced by each country’s Ministry of Interior. Workers’ immigration status is treated primarily as a security rather than a labor issue.

Providing an interesting basis for comparison, the word kafala actually also refers to the system under which children are adopted in Islamic countries.  Sharia law does not allow for legal adoption, giving adopted children same the legal status as biological children, but rather allows parents to “sponsor,” or guarantee the welfare of, an orphaned child and assume responsibility for its well-being.

More pictures of our MCC

(Which by the way still needs your support and help in spreading the word, here!)

Our computer classes are ongoing and full capacity.
Some photos:)





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Rare protest by South Asian labourers about unpaid wages prompts Dubai to mobilise riot police

This is something!

Hundreds of Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis took to the streets in the emirate.
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Hundreds of South Asian labourers took to the streets in Dubai on Tuesday to protest unpaid wages and working conditions, prompting the emirate to mobilise riot police. Local reports said the striking workers ripped down corrugated iron fences at a development belonging to Emaar Properties and even came onto the streets to block traffic near the Dubai Mall. The sight of protesting labourers is jarring in a country where demonstrations and unionising are illegal and could easily lead to deportation.

“How much money can we send home now?” one worker at the scene, told the Wall Street Journal. “We are fed like animals.” The Journal reported that the workers were protesting the company's decision to cut pay citing a loss of productivity and also because they were being fed expired food.


Read more on Scroll-in

Karaoke Pictures

At MCC.

















Hidden in plain sight: Life as a mixed-Lebanese

Full piece on MiddleEastEye

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Mixed-race populations are a face of life in many countries today, but in Lebanon they are still an anomaly - one hidden in plain-sight. For decades the country's sons (and some daughters) have left their homeland in search of fortune across the African continent, forging businesses and careers abroad before returning to Lebanon. Now Lebanon is home to hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, toiling in factories or in homes. At home and abroad, marriages between Lebanese and foreigners have long been an inevitability. And now such unions are parent to a small community of mixed-race Lebanese. Card-carrying citizens of the cedar state, their global ancestry is often marked in the colour of their skin.

But while black and asian faces on the streets of Lebanon are common enough, little thought is paid to the idea that some could be Lebanese.

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Saab said his officers always treated him with respect and were often happy to chat in French, the language he was brought up speaking in Congo. But with his fellow soldiers, his experience couldn't have been more different. "There were provocations all the time, insulting me. Some people had a nickname for me, 'zifit' ['tar'], like the road. They'd say to each other, how can a dark be in the Lebanese army with us? It's impossible. How could his father marry a black woman?'"

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Saab has little hope that attitudes will change in Lebanon. But even if many in society are not of the same opinion, in the law and in his own mind, he is resolute, "I have a family here and I am Lebanese," he told me. "If I say it's not my home I would be surrendering. I don't want someone else telling me different." Pointing to his three children playing on the floor by his feet, he only had this to say, "I will always fight for them to be Lebanese."

"I am dark, and I am Lebanese."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sunday- IWD at MCC

On International Women's Day, MCC members and friends from Ethiopia decided to have a lunch gathering, traditional coffee, and a dance party. MCC members from other countries joined-in with their music as well. Here are a few happy pictures:)