23 August 2012

Addressing the Needs of Domestic Workers in Malaysia

Photo courtesy of Tenaganita, an NGO addressing exploitation in Malaysia.

As you may remember (from a few months ago), Chab Dai’s office building was formerly a recruitment agency for sending domestic workers to Malaysia.  Now Chab Dai is working to bring them back home.  The past few months have brought about exciting partnerships.  I recently sat down with Ms. Tho Narann (Chab Dai's Malaysia Cross-Border Case Officer), to discuss Chab Dai's brand new pilot project and partnership with the Coalition to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery in Asia {CAMSA Malaysia}.

The conversation between Chab Dai and several human rights and anti-trafficking partner organizations in Malaysia began last year, where the need was strongly expressed for an English-Khmer interpreter to assist Cambodian migrant workers who were experiencing abuse and filing cases in Malaysia.  (You can read about that here). Coordination and further discussions lead to the development of this collaborative-based, case coordination project between Cambodian & Malaysian partner.

“The main goal of the project is to improve the case coordination and tangibly provide a cross-border referral mechanism between Malaysia & Cambodia,” says Narann.   Due in part to language barriers and a complex legal system Cambodian domestic workers who experience exploitation in Malaysia are often labeled and treated as illegal workers, rather than identified as victims of human trafficking.  Though potentially exploited and experiencing physical and psychological abuse, migrant workers may be picked up by police and placed in government shelters or worse, deported.  Without a clear ability to understand the full story from the client, cases sometimes become stagnant.  Narann's role is to support cases of Cambodian migrant workers through Khmer/ English interpretation and assist in referring cases between Cambodian & Malaysian organizations, including repatriation and reintegration support when they return home. As a case officer she is actively building relationships with migrant workers, the Cambodian embassy, Malaysian labour officers, and NGO partners.  Cases can be handled efficiently and properly when the full story is communicated and understood.

Best case scenario, says Narann is to “get the women home and get their compensation from their employer.”  The hope remains for Chab Dai that this project will continue to advocate for Cambodian migrants workers in Malaysia and that further cross-border collaboration will result in sustainable justice and restoration. 

*To see more about Chab Dai and CAMSA, follow our updates on Facebook here and here.

07 August 2012

New Referral Directory Hits Cambodia!

My love of maps started at a young age.  It probably began on the long road trips my dad planned each summer for our family vacations through the desert. I remember sitting next to him holding a huge folded map and ticking off each tiny town we passed and reading every street sign we wizzed past so I could calculate exactly where we were on the map and what was close to us... Fast forward to today... it's like clockwork, now the first thing I do every time I step off a plane is find one of those helpful kiosk-things in the airport with all the travel info- you know them- the cheesy tourist hotspot brochures, travel agent advertisements, and most importantly the city maps!

To me a map is like a key to unlocking a country (aka. an adventure). It helps us make informed decisions - like when we can walk or if it's best to take a taxi; what all our options are for places to visit; or where the closest food stall is to our hotel.

One of my very favorite things at Chab Dai is when the need arises to map or organize information into directories or big picture diagrams, like trends in human trafficking, migration patterns, and what/ where services are available.

The latter, what and where services existed across Cambodia (specifically for returned migrants and reintegrated survivors of trafficking back to their communities), especially outside of Phnom Penh, was a mapping need expressed earlier this year. The number of Cambodian migrant workers looking for jobs in bordering countries continues to increase steadily and there are an ongoing initiatives for survivors of trafficking to be reintegrated into the community. In response, service providers, social workers, and border officials in Cambodia and in the destination countries wanted a guide to what services exist for referrals, and where.

Of course I jumped on board to help!

In collaboration with many partners, including the Royal Government of Cambodia, the National Committee on the Suppression of Human Trafficking, the International Labour Organization (ILO), together we developed a comprehensive directory of government and civil society services divided by the regions and provinces of Cambodia, and 5 key service categories:

  1. Coordination and Networking
  2. Recovery and Psychological Support Services
  3. Legal Assistance
  4. Medical Services
  5. Skills Training & Job Placement

So, I'm very pleased to announce that the Referral Directory of Services for Returned Migrants & Reintegrated Survivors of Trafficking: Cambodia 2012 is finished! It has already reached Thailand and Malaysia service providers, and will continue to be disseminated in Cambodia in the upcoming weeks. If you're a service provider I hope this will be a helpful tool for referrals or partnerships. And if you're someone thinking about starting a project or ministry in Cambodia I hope you will take time to review this directory and let it guide you to start strategically.

You can find a soft-copy of the directory in both English and Khmer here. If you want a hard-copy send me an email [aimee.brammer@chabdai.org] or tweet [@aimee_chabdai] with the number of directories you'd like and how you're planning to use them. We'll try to meet your requests as is possible!