Wednesday, 2 November, 2011
Yesterday, 4 Bengali workers visited the Migrant Community Center in Nabaa. They are working for a cleaning company in Beirut, whose name we DO have. The story goes: * We have been recruited by an agency in Bangladesh, promising us a bright future in Lebanon where we can potentially escape poverty and work decently to provide food and education for our families back home. However, prerequisite was had to pay 5000$ to be able to come to Lebanon as the agency said. This is the cost for traveling to Lebanon and finding us a job, they said. They explained we can pay the money back easily in installments in addition to being able to save up and send back home. It sounded like piece of cake. We were promised working 8 to 10 hours a days max with a salary of 370$, food and accommodation covered. So we did not hesitate and took loans to secure the amount of 5000$. We come to Lebanon and the reality slaps us. The real conditions are: 1- We have to pay the amount of the residency and work permit from our salary 2- The salary is 50$ to 100$ per month. 3- We have to take care of our own accomondation and food. 4- We work 18 hours a day/ 6 days a week. Discovering all that, we went to the company to complain about this so their reaction was to beat us and oblige us to work or else.. This is unbearable. They treat us like animals and slaves. We can not afford to ever call our family and tell them we wont be able to send them money even. We can not afford food. We are eating bread and apples all day long to survive, thousands of miles away from our families, no one to protect us or tell us what to do and we see no solution, as we are afraid of confronting the employer or else he will send us back to Bangladesh with nothing knowing that we owe 5000$ each. * At ARM, we rarely take on individual cases for several reasons which we will not go into now. But this is going to have to be an exception. It is insane and surreal that this is happening right infront of our eyes and it goes by unnoticed. Putting everything else that has happened to them aside, it is important to realize that those people are hungry and can not afford basic means of anything. They were crying throughout as they were telling our Priya their story. We have contacted their embassy to report about their situation and asked the embassy to contact the company saying they know of cases of ill-treatment to their nationals without naming the guys at hand so as not to put them at more risk. But for the time being, short term anything is equally needed. So please spread the word around. For anyone who can donate food (rice, pasta, canned food, etc...), clothes or basic house detergents, contact me (email@example.com) or call 71 421593 and we can put things at the MCC so they (the workers) can come pick things up once a week from the MCC...if they are not deprived of their Sundays too soon.