I Am Not Your ‘Habibti’

I am a Filipina Migrant Worker, who has been here in Lebanon since 2004. I am a victim of human trafficking under the Kafala System since I was deceived by a recruitment agency in the Philippines. I was contracted to be a private nurse for a Lebanese family but ended up doing domestic work instead. I have been through the worst and most degrading abuse a migrant worker in Lebanon could experience. This experience was the trigger point that made me become a community leader and organiser, dedicated to work for and with my community. I chose to organise my fellow Filipino Migrant Workers, so I can help them to know their rights, as well as when and how to fight for them. I am raising awareness and making them understand that we came here not to be slaves, but to work decently and with dignity and pride.

The year 2020 saw big challenges for the whole world but especially for Lebanon, when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, the economic collapse escalated and the Beirut Port explosion happened, the Migrant Worker Communities in Lebanon were greatly affected. 

Racism was always around us.

The economic crisis has shown the true exploitation of domestic workers in Lebanon. No ‘habibti enti’ or ‘you are part of our family’, will make up for the fact that the employers won’t pay us fair wages, support us in critical times of need or allow us to have rights and protection.

So as a community leader I saw the need for help and to find solutions to the present problems.

I started fundraising for the Food Relief Project that me and my group started. We provided medical assistance to Migrant Workers suffering from Covid-19. 

At present, my group is giving livelihood skills training to Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon to support them towards economic sustainability, both here in Lebanon and in their own country once they return. We believe that no Migrant Worker, who has left her country to work for a better future for her family, deserves to go hungry or die in a foreign country.

A. M. - Philippina Migrant Domestic Worker

*Disclaimer: For the purpose of the author's safety and privacy, her name was replaced by initials.