Freelance photographer David Snyder is traveling throughout the Middle East to see the many CRS projects helping people throughout the region. David is blogging about what he sees along the way.
I arrived here in Jordan two days ago to visit some Catholic Relief Services projects here, on my way from the West Bank before visiting some more programs in Lebanon later this week. I spent the day today with migrants, drawn to Jordan by promises of work, whose experiences here as domestic workers were amazing to hear.
For most, the problems started almost immediately. Upon arrival, usually organized by unscrupulous recruitment agencies, their passports were taken, rendering them unable to leave the country. Once that measure of control of has been reached, these young women – most of them from the Philippines or Indonesia and all of them alone and vulnerable – were at the mercy of their new employers. The women I met with today told stories of overwork, months and years without a single day off, no pay and even physical and sexual abuse.
I met these women in the office of a CRS partner agency called the Adaleh Center for Human Rights Studies. Located on a quiet side street here in Amman, the Adaleh Center opened a legal unit in 2010 with CRS support, eventually hiring five lawyers to take on the cases of migrant workers trapped in Jordan. In just one year they have become something of a formidable legal force here, and they aren’t afraid to mix it up with the recruitment agencies so often responsible for placing these young women at risk. I love that about them.
Today, I met a woman named Eva Mendoza who said she tried everything she knew of to get her passport back after it was taken by her recruitment agency. She contacted her embassy, a Jordanian human rights group and a local non-governmental organizations specializing in human rights. Months passed with no response, until she reached out to Adaleh. Within 24 hours, she had her passport back in her hand for the first time in years.
That’s what it means to give a voice to the voiceless.
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