Monday, June 11, 2012

Reaching Out to All

I just started my second week working with Tamkeen, and I have had a wonderful experience so far. Because of our efforts to spread awareness about migrant workers' rights and how Tamkeen can assist victimized migrant workers, we have had an influx of migrant workers contact us throughout the last week for help. Besides trying to sort and catalog these new cases, I have been put in charge of writing the strategic plan for the 2013 year. In 2013, Tamkeen hopes to expand its current program to include providing greater social assistance to migrant workers, as well as lobbying to change current legislation in Jordan so that it is more fair to both legal and illegal migrant workers in Jordan. With respect to the social assistance program, Tamkeen hopes to create culturally specific social networks for the migrant workers that the workers can turn to for support. Many migrant workers are socially isolated in Jordan because they do not know anyone here and do not speak the language. By connecting them with other migrant workers from their same culture and home country, Tamkeen will help them create a family here. Whenever migrant workers are depressed, stressed, or need someone to talk to, they have someone who understands that they can turn to. As for lobbying, Tamkeen is trying to change current Jordanian legislation so that it is fair to migrant workers and domestic workers across the board, no matter if they are legal or illegal. Tamkeen is also trying to change the migrant worker sponsorship program that is currently in place. Under this sponsorship program, employers are responsible for the migrant worker. Employers are in charge of renewing the worker's residency as well as paying for their working permits. This puts a huge amount of power in the hands of both employers and recruiting agencies, and easily allows for the exploitation of migrant workers. Even though Jordan has come a long way in adopting various international human rights conventions, they have yet to adopt the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families. Tamkeen is trying to spread awareness to government officials on how important it is to adopt this Convention.

I also was put in charge of updated, adding to, and maintaining Tamkeen's blog, which provides on the ground information on the state of migrant workers in Jordan. Tamkeen is trying to make its blog more accessible to its people by encouraging people to post their opinions on the state of migrant workers on the blog. I have written an opinion post titled 'The Media's Perspective of Migrant Workers' (you can find it here!). I plan on writing many more for the organization. I am also in charge of creating a Social Events page for the blog. This page provides information about the different cultural events for migrant workers that happen throughout Amman. This page is very important for building and strengthening a supportive social network that migrant workers can turn to when they need help. I am also working on building another page called Diaries of Migrant Workers. This page presents the accounts of the migrant workers that contact Tamkeen for help through first person narratives. I am currently writing these narratives and will post them on the blog soon. Even though I enjoy story telling through writing, my heart continues to break at each new case I read; there is one case in particular about a man who was banned from working in Jordan because he helped plan a strike in the factory he worked in after a female worker was brutally beaten by the factory supervisor. Back in his home country, this man is alienated by his family and friends, seen as a disgrace because he has no job to provide for his family. He believes that he has nothing left except suicide. The purpose of this page is to raise awareness about the experiences and hardships that migrant workers face in Jordan. Essentially, this page takes one step closer to change the stereotype of migrant workers that exists in Jordan. Many people (both those who employ migrant workers and those who do not) believe that migrant workers play a negative role in society; they are seen as thieves and trouble makers. Many do not realize the rights violations and victimization that these workers experience; many do not see them as being equal, as even being human. This blog is just another way Tamkeen is trying to provide and amplify the voices of migrant workers so that they are heard and recognized by all.

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