Friday, August 1, 2014

The Hardest Day in Kore - Indentured Servitude & Slavery

After three weeks of constant use of hand sanitizer, bathing out of a rain barrel with a pitcher of water, existing under constant surveillance of my bodily intake due to last time's visit, walking muddy, feces-ridden streets, breathing in belching fumes inside intoxicating, sardine-packed taxis on the way to the college and seminary, I was ready for home.  Home visits, although of benefit, seemed to carry a monotony due to my lack of knowledge of the local language.  I was ready for hot wings and beer, for the warmth of my wife's loving embrace, and for my children's laughter, smiles, and cuddles.  I certainly wasn't despairing of the hardship these people endure, nor was I depressed, downcast, or even lonely.  I was simply ready for home.  Now, it was our last day of home visits, and I skipped along the road and gave my best Skylar impersonation in a song, with the last word drawn out like a string: "We're weddy to go!"  (Skylar is my youngest daughter, who, at three and one-half years, is closely related to the firecracker family).  My mood was jovial, and infectious.  Still, it rains every day in Addis in their winter (our summer); any semblance of sunshine is an instant boost of joy.

This last day, however, was especially hard.  The first family we visited was one of a man who works construction during the day and as a night guard until midnight in order to take care of his two daughters.  His wife has left the country to serve as a housemaid in Lebanon.  The mother has done this before, because the promise of high pay (1,500 birr per month) is attractive to people desperate for jobs in an impoverished sector of society, such as Kore is.  Our alarm is not without justification, and we could read the same emotions on the husband's face.  He told us what many already know by means of media outlets; Ethiopian housemaids have been raped, tortured, and murdered by their Middle-eastern family employers.  Sometimes, according to the husband, the wives of these Middle-eastern men get jealous of the beauty of the Ethiopian women, and there have reports of the housemaids being thrown from buildings.  (It's hard to deny that majority Muslim nations have a very low respect for women, and especially for foreign women).  Many of these women come back to Ethiopia psychologically traumatized, and reports of suicide are known (see above link). 

His hands are pink from the painting he was doing before he came in to talk with us.  He is a rarity as a father who remains at home and works so hard for his family. 

If we're concerned for his wife's safety, how much more is he?

According to The Reporter, an Ethiopian newspaper, the government of Ethiopia has banned overseas employment, as a response to the thousands of reports of these women being abused by their Middle-eastern employers.  This man's wife signed a three-year contract, of which she apparently loses all her money if she leaves early.  She is allowed to make phone calls to home, but just one call means one fourth of her pay.  We have to ask whether this is indentured servitude or slavery, or somewhere in between.  Whatever it is, it's a terrible situation in which to live.  We offered the family some financial assistance to bring the mother back home, but then we learned that she has done this more than once.  In fact, the twelve-year-old girl who is sponsored by Transformation Love has only seen her mother a few times in her life.  This made for a very difficult visit, in which one places the head in the hands and offers a meager groan as to a solution to this problem.

The woman left for Lebanon because she had attempted to open a small shop in the Kore area but it was not successful.  Our next move in the Kore area is finding sustainable jobs for these women.  We think this is possible because of the economic growth that is occurring in Kore.  There are roads, sidewalks, banks, buildings for businesses and shops, and very fine houses encroaching upon the outskirts of Kore.  We hope that with such growth will come jobs for those who are uneducated and sick, for it is to these women that Transformation Love ministers.

Do please pray for the safety of this man's wife, as she truly is in a dangerous situation. 

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