GhannamGood morning dear brothers and sisters and I wish all of you a happy holiday to come. In this article, I would like to talk about my experience during my recent visit to the shelter of the Philippines Embassy here in Kuwait on December 25th.

I was invited by some of the volunteers in charge of caring for those workers in the shelter before they are deported in a matter of few days. I also have had the honor to meet His Excellency the Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa and the Consul who both were so kind. We spoke about the labor issue where the Ambassador and the Consul and Attorney praised the level of cooperation extended by the Kuwaiti authorities in this respect.

It was my first time being in a shelter, and having been there means two things: Either the domestic helper does not want to work for the sponsor as stated in the contract or the sponsor is bad and mistreats the worker, a matter that prompted the worker to seek the embassy for help.

The house which is used as a shelter for Filipino workers was cram packed with housekeepers awaiting deportation. I was not totally aware of the nature of the problem for them to be deported but the question arises: Why Kuwait needs to establish a shelter in the first place? Would it not be better that the sponsor treats his or her workers fairly, politely, respectfully and according to Islamic teachings rather than mistreatment, oppression, selfishness, arrogance and so on?

In the 1980s, the housekeepers used to come from India, they would stay for more than 25 years in a single house, and they would bring their relatives to work as well. I had never heard of a single case of maltreatment of a housekeeper or a shelter being erected for those helpless people. They were treated as if they were part of the family. The sponsor would give an OK for the housekeeper to discipline the kids if they had behaved wrongly because she was part of the family and had big concern for the family in addition to the humane treatment she is receiving from the sponsors.

It is misfortune to see Kuwait’s guests being deported from the country for whatever reason. I understand that criminal cases and those behind them should be prosecuted and pursued till justice prevails, but I am talking about those helpless workers who have left behind their crying babies who need adequate parental attention, as well as old and sick parents who are awaiting medicine and special care.

I am sure that those helpless workers must have sold their belongings or even borrowed money from relatives in order to come here and fulfill their dreams and go back home happy, but yet ended up in more miseries and unfortunate situations. Many of them had stayed in Kuwait maybe for one month, and some others for less than a year.

They are now thinking how would they pay back what they had abandoned and sold, or how to repay the loans they had taken and how they would make their kids happy; with a toy or with the bitter truth? Would they tell them that they were deported from the wealthy countries and how they had suffered at the hands of some employers? What would they tell their parents, ‘we could not be able to buy you the needed medicine because we had been deported?’ It is really a bad image for Kuwait abroad. I am for sure certain that those who are deported would go back to their country and narrate their suffering and misery to their loved ones, relatives, and maybe the media about how hard it was being in this country with ‘God fearing’ sponsors.

I would lastly want to affirm that Islam is not to blame; the sponsor who tends to be a Muslim only in the birth certificate is to blame. Islam teaches harmony, respect, kindness, loyalty, sympathy and many other noble characters. It does not call for the inhumane treatment of a worker. Prophet Mohammad peace and blessing be upon him narrated that a worker must be paid before his or her sweat dries out.

There has to be a solution to this problem instead of erecting shelters for the deportees. Sociologists and the authorities must sit together and discuss how the issue can be resolved socially, while the bad sponsors must be prosecuted and severely punished.

Until the next article Insha Allah.

By Talal Al-Ghannam