Lebanon Visit: Caritas Offers Shelter to Abused Women

CRS Communications Coordinator Jennifer Hardy is traveling with winners of the 2008 Egan Award for Journalistic Excellence . They are seeing the Church’s work with Iraqi refugees in Lebanon and Syria.

On one of the Egan Award winners’ visits to see the work of Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center (CLMC), I was welcomed warmly to a confidential shelter for abused women who served as maids to Lebanese families. The demand for inexpensive household help leads women to potentially exploitative situations, and CLMC social workers told us many stories of physical abuse inflicted on servants by their employers.

I was honored to meet the women currently staying at the confidential shelter. They hail from places such as Ethiopia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka and follow several different faiths.

I spoke privately with Anna* from the Philippines. She had been locked in her employer’s home for approximately seven months before she found the opportunity to jump out of a third floor window to escape. She showed me burns from boiling water and an iron on her stomach, back and arms and said “My skin used to be so beautiful, but now I am embarrassed for my parents and husband to see me when I go home (to the Philippines).”

CLMC, with support from CRS, is providing a haven for her at the shelter until the legal case against her employer moves forward and she can return to her husband and small son in Manila. She spoke of her strong Catholic faith and when I asked how she found the courage to finally escape her employer, she answered “God…I could not have done it otherwise. I know and believe that God has a good future for me and my family.”

*Name has been changed.

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