They left their home country, Nigeria, dreaming of better lives in Lebanon.
“I left to look for greener pastors.”
“I left to work and also to be independent unto myself.”
“I left for a betterment of life.”
But what is really happening to their dreams? French-Beninese journalist Anamê Gnanguenonn explores their stories through a podcast series produced as part of a journalist training and networking program called “Changing the Narrative.”
Gnanguenon believes that personal experiences are often left out of media coverage—especially those of women. In what she calls “unusual and rewarding narratives,” the women featured in the podcast series “show their courage, strength, and pride.”
Connecting with women through the Migrant Community Center in Lebanon, Gnanguenon offers them a safe space in which to share their stories, or, as she says, “to give power to their voices and discuss issues of their realities.”
Gnanguenon has worked with the Migrant Community Center since 2019, when she engaged with the organization Anti-Racism Movement as an activity officer at the center. Now she works as community advocacy coordinator in direct contact with migrant domestic workers for advocacy and media campaigns to give more visibility to the migrant community’s fieldwork and women’s initiatives.
Female domestic workers are often asked why they leave their home countries. Joy, also from
Nigeria, said: “I left because I was not having a lot of opportunities. I was frustrated a lot.
Everything was on me. They told me it’s a good job. Everybody wants a good life.”
But what kind of life is it?
Often the jobs feature over-promised benefits, grueling physical work, and racism that eats
away at the women’s mental health.
“In my workplace, racism has affected my mental health. If I’m at work, because I’m black, I’m
not allowed to use a certain cup.”
— Mariam, a domestic worker from Sierra Leone who has been in Lebanon 18 years
“I go by taxi everywhere I go. Because I’m Filipino, taxi drivers are taking too much money
because they think I’m taking a full dollar salary full dollar. Why they are thinking I have a lot of dollars?”
— Meriam, from the Philippines, a domestic worker in Lebanon for 29 years
“Racism is something we face on a daily basis in our lives. When you are walking on the road,
you meet white people. When you’re close to them—you see them crossing the road. When
you’re in the elevator with them, you see people grabbing their bags and holding them close,
thinking you’re a thief and will take it from them!”
—Noel, from Kenya, a domestic worker in Lebanon for seven years
Hear their voices. Listen to their stories. Check out the Women of the Blame podcast series on SoundCloud.
Women of the Blame is part of Changing the Narrative, a project produced by the World
Association for Christian Communication and funded by the Otto per Mile foundation of the
Waldensian Church in Italy. For more information—and more stories—visit the Changing the Narrative webpage.