Beyond Borders: a Cultural Celebration of Migrant Workers

On Sunday 17 August WYAME has hosted the event “Beyond Borders: a Cultural Celebration of Migrant Workers” at the Migrant Community Center in downtown Beirut, with the purpose to dedicate a day to migrant workers communities Lebanon, in recognition of their effort, and for us to celebrate their commitment to improve the country.

The event was held at the Migrant Community Center in Gemmayze, in downtown Beirut, and it consisted in a morning of stories told my migrant workers coming from Côte d’Hivoire, Senegal and Syria, followed by music, dances and tasting of delicious traditional dishes from these countries.

The audience was formed by other migrant workers, as well as by WYA current members and members of the local and international community in Beirut. The main goal of the event was to allow migrant workers to express themselves through the culture of their own country of origin, as well as to share their stories.

By listening to all these incredible, touching statements, the wider public was able to develop a deeper understanding of the background of these individuals, as well as to learn about the challenges they have been dealing with during their lives in Lebanon. During the more interactive and engaging moment involving music, dances and food, guests were able to immerge themselves in all these cultures, familiarize with them and learn to understand differences.

In a cosmopolitan city such as Beirut, and in a multicultural country like Lebanon, this is an important message to spread.

There are about 200,000 migrant workers living in Lebanon. Lebanese Labour Laws were established in 1946, and they remained unchanged since then. Article 7 states that domestic workers employed in private households are excluded from these laws. Their children born in Lebanon therefore are not assigned an official identity, and as a consequence there are no statistics regarding them.

According to the Lebanese law, children belonging to Sri Lankan, Filipino and West African migrant workers, if already registered in a Lebanese school, get to obtain residency, but many face marginalisation and racism because of their parents’ social status.