I would love to believe that human action can change things. That we have the power to influence at least something and that we build our lives through and for each other. Yesterday, Alex, Christina and other friends of mine went to Maroun al Ras to take part in the march to and for Palestine. After 6 hours of revolt most people went back to their busses
Today, Dareen called and said she needed help. She was in Hamra taking care of a migrant worker, a woman from Bangladesh. She said it was urgent. I ran out of the library to meet her near one of the many hotels in Hamra, where she was standing with that woman, let’s call her M. M was crying and trying to get Bangladeshi or Indian looking people to stop and help her. When I arrived she was talking to one of these women, but she soon turned away and left us with her. Dareen talked to her and tried to convince her to walk just a little to get away from the car she had been sitting in and crying for help. We walked a little, I held the woman’s arm tried to calm her, but she just kept crying and crying. Finally we sat down and I called my friend Noor who speaks Bengali. We managed to find out that M fled from her employers this morning. An Immigration stamp on one of the documents she carried in her clothes showed that she had only arrived 2 weeks ago: April 29th 2011. She made me understand that her husband was in Bangladesh and sick and that she had three children waiting for her to come back home.
M’s first family did not tolerate her health problems and made her work until late at night. When she passed out one night while doing the dishes, the family brought her back to the agency. The latter, locked her in a room for three days without food and water and beat her in the stomach, the breasts, the arms and legs. Then, M. was send to a second family, a very old lady that she was supposed to take care of. This lady was so sick, that it was impossible for her to leave her bed. Hence, M. changed her bed sheets daily and was forced to sit at her bed night and day. She almost did not sleep and the lady she was taking care of apparently had still enough strength to spit at her and yell. This is not the worst part, and while M. is explaining to us what happened and Noor is translating, M cries and has to stop. A man stops and brings her food and water. But she cannot take food. She finishes her story. Every time M leaves the old lady to go to the kitchen or the bathroom, an old man, also living with them follows her and looks at her while she is in the bathroom. When she goes to the kitchen he tries to kiss her and touches her breasts, face and crotch. At some point, she takes a knife and threatens him: “If you touch me again, I will stab myself.” The old man takes away the knife and locks her up in a room where he beats her.
This morning M, left the apartment when the door, which was usually locked was left open to get the laundry. She begs people for help, but the Bengali people are too afraid to help her since it might get them in trouble.
We call Kafa and bring her there. She has to recount her story once more to the lawyer. M is exhausted and we let her sleep on the couch for some minutes. Kafa finds a shelter and we drive back to Hamra. She is nauseous and starts weeping in the car. She is afraid we will bring her back to the family. The women at the shelter are affectionate. We leave M, but she asks whether we can visit her tomorrow.
I hope she will sleep well tonight and in the nights to come.