With the number of displaced Syrian refugees now estimated at 1.3 million in Lebanon, the status of other communities in need, such as migrant domestic workers, appears to be suffering.

“Migrant workers are not exactly a top priority at this time, since currently the more pressing issue of Syrian refugees has overwhelmed [the priorities of] donors. We [largely rely on fundraising because] most migrant workers do not have... disposable income to spend on [our educational] classes and activities,” Rana Boukarim, dual program manager of the Anti-Racism Movement (ARM) and Migrant Community Center (MCC) in Lebanon told Beirut.com.

Organizations like MCC, which last month launched a crowd-funding campaign to keep the center in operation, work toward empowering the migrant worker community in Lebanon through social events, workshops and language courses.

For the most part, these activities are free or offered at a very minimal cost to migrant domestic workers. MCC now says it needs to raise $25,000 to cover the costs of hosting classes, community events, workshops, training sessions, field trips and awareness campaigns.

While MCC receives funding from the Open Society Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, these donations only serve to meet basic operational costs. Within the last year, the center has been forced to cut back most of its activities just to remain open. “This is why we have launched the Indiegogo campaign: in the hope that all of MCC's individual supporters can help ensure it survives and moves forward,” said Boukarim.

As of 2012, studies estimate that the number of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon is between 150,000 and 220,000. MCC first opened its doors in September of 2011 in Nabaa, but moved to the Gemmayzeh neighborhood of Achrafieh two years later. With the goal of empowerment, MCC is a center managed by migrant workers for migrant workers. “The idea was to create a free, open, and safe space where migrant workers could get together, have meetings, talk about instances of abuse, socialize and access information. Basically, they have a support system [here], and a place to go, both of which were sorely lacking [prior to the formation of this center]," Boukarim said.

The migrant community in Lebanon, which is composed predominately of individuals from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Nepal, the Philippines, Madagascar and Bangladesh, is subject to the controversial "kafala" (sponsorship) system which restricts workers from moving to a new job before their contracts end unless they obtain their employer's consent, and is devoid of mechanisms to protect women when they are abused, mistreated or denied fair treatment. Devoid of basic legal protections and rights, the "kafala" system has been referred to as a form of modern-day slavery.

Most disturbing is the high rate of unnatural death and suicide noted among domestic workers, with at least one death occurring per week, according to a 2008 report by Human Rights Watch.

Beyond offering a place for them to build community ties, MCC is helping migrant workers fight for their rights. “By contributing to the empowerment of migrant workers and increasing their access to tools, information, resources and online platforms, MCC has supported migrant workers to increasingly join the fight against discrimination and exploitation,” said Boukarim.

“Really, we are grateful for MCC, one migrant worker, Lydia from Kenya, told Beirut.com. “Sometimes we go for activities outside and visit places... it's fun because when you [spend so much time] working [inside], you don’t [normally] get to go to these places."

Another migrant, Anna from Sri Lanka, said, “Maybe I want to have my birthday or a party; I can come and do [it here].”

“When MCC opened, it was the first time I was invited to a place that said this house is for you,” said Mohammad from Sierra Leone, adding, “I've been here for 20 years, and the difference between the [past 17 years] and these last three years [is huge]. For these three years, really, [it's made me] feel like I have my own home.”

Currently, the center has over 100 registered members, however many more unregistered members benefit from MCC and its activities. At the time of writing, the campaign has received around $3,500 toward its goal. The campaign will continue through March 28.

Those who are unable to contribute financially but still want to help are encouraged to share the campaign via social media and through word of mouth. A list of items that can be donated is also available here on the campaign page. Additionally, MCC is always looking for new volunteers to teach classes and help plan future events.

To donate to the Migrant Community Center's fundraising campaign, head to the indigogo crowdsourcing website. To learn more about MCC, visit the Anti-Racism Movement's website.

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