Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sale of Baskets Made by Jailed Migrant Workers Tomorrow

Friday, April 8th, from 6 -9pm, in T Marbouta, Hamra
For further questions please don’t hesitate to contact:
Sarah Chetti: sarahchetti at or Jackie Andres: jackiemandres at

These baskets are produced by women in the Tripoli jail. There are about 120 women, sharing a number of cells, who worked as migrant domestic workers before they were arrested and put in jail. Some of them may be convicted of some simple crimes, some of them were detained for running away from their workplace. Due to the kafala (sponsorship) system they are obliged to remain with their employers, even if they are unhappy with working conditions. If they run away from their sponsors, they automatically become illegal. These women often think they would be helped by the police, however, they do not realize that running away from their employers is a legal offense. These women do not know their rights and legal obligations. When they land in jail, these women do not know how long they have to stay in jail and often don’t understand why they were arrested.

Making baskets is creative and therapeutic. Selling them for money also gives them some financial freedom. When they are eventually released and sent home, hopefully this little money will come in handy. When they are hauled into prisons,
some of them are able to gather and bring their belongings with them. However, many of them often lose all their belongings and all that they have accumulated. When the employer withholds their salary, or throws away their belongings of the former maids, the employer can claim without difficulty that she/he has always paid her and that the maid took everything with her when she ran away. Therefore some of the women return to their home countries with less than they arrived.
Money from the sale of these baskets helps support these women. 100% of the money goes back to the women who make the baskets. By buying these baskets you are directly helping the women in prison. The volunteers who visit them in prison provide them with physical, emotional, and spiritual support. When they visit the prisons they take with them rice, vegetables, cooking oil, sugar, and personal hygiene items. Sometimes they provide them with suitcases, and travel bags.

The volunteers also visit Detention Center in Adlieh regularly. On Tuesdays they take cooked hot meals to 3 cells. Elma cooks for the Philippino cell, Irene to the ones from Madagaskar and Francophone countries, and Sarah cooks for the women from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
The fourth cell gets fresh fruit and vegetables. Some times the volunteers also raise money for offsetting air tickets for some of the maids who have difficulty raising money. Just talking to these maids in their local language is immensely helpful. Sarah speaks Tamil and Hindi to the girls from Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh; Elma speaks Tagalog to the girls from Philippines, and Irene speaks Malagasy/French to the girls from Madagascar and Francophone countries, and Berbel speaks Arabic to the women from Ethiopia and other Arab countries. Speaking to them in their own language is a source of great comfort to the women.

No comments:

Post a Comment