Economic migrants and Africans in particular are usually assigned to a particular role. In most cases they should be domestic workers in Lebanon, maybe a security guard or potentially working in a kitchen or a pool of a fancy hotel. Eden’s strength and her work with Amel has led her to escape the role she was forced into and empower others to follow free themselves.
Eden, a member of the Ethiopian MDW community and teacher of folkloric fashion design at Amel Association International “School” for MDW in Lebanon. She began her journey in Lebanon assigned to the role of domestic workers, through the infamous Kafala system. This meant that her life depended on the goodwill of whatever employer she landed with. Some are good, some are bad, and others are terrible. Regardless of her own particular situation, migrant workers in Lebanon tend to be excluded from social existence. Confined to the houses, isolated from their communities and often having only a few hours off on Sundays, migrant workers share this in common, they spend a lot of their life here in standby. Waiting, working and dreaming of rekindling with their loved ones and walking the lands they left behind often to provide for the ones left behind.
Eden’s life in Lebanon, haphazardly led her to encounter Amel’s Bashar Mohanna and Muslim Akil empowerment center of Chiyah area in 2017 with a friend of hers, her motivation to come to Amel was clear: “There are many obstacles standing between people and their dreams, well that’s the case for my friends and I – lack of skills and the needed tools to reach our goals. Today, I can happily say that thanks to empowerment classes of English, computer and makeup, in addition to the psycho-social support provided to me by Amel’s team, I am now closer to achieving my aspirations”. Eden explains.
Her eagerness to participate in numerous courses helped her to outdo expectations as she learned quickly and helped others to achieve their goals. She adds: “Having the tools and the support gives us the courage to dream and strive to build better lives as migrant domestic workers. I have been working as a MDW for many years in Lebanon to secure a living, but I identify myself as an artist and a traditional costume designer and not just as a house cleaner! The teaching opportunity to instruct folkloric fashion design class at the development centre of Amel, where migrant workers are protected and supported, is the most significant evidence of each person’s ability to lead their destiny and regain their dignity”. She showed the world that asking for help might lead to helping others.
One of the most coveted and appreciated aspects of Eden’s work has been the beautiful paintings she has been making at Amel’s center, in which she portrays colorful and lovely scenes of her life in Ethiopia. For many migrant workers isolation is one of the main issues encountered, through Amel’s support and her own strength and willpower, she found a space where she could meet supportive people and dedicate herself to painting scenes and landscapes of memories she yearns to go back to.