"How can you call this place earth? For me it's a big battle field, sometimes there are no guns, but too often I am killed... not by bullets but ignorance, by hatred discrimination, racism, inhumanity, pride..." (Poem by Susan Loone on the mind of refugees)
In celebrating this Christmas, we enjoy having fun with friends and family. There's no wrong of being fun, enjoy and be merry. For whatever reason, Christians ought to be the happiest person in the world, for we celebrate the born of a Savior. But there are people who may not feel the same. Keep celebrating but be prayerful. Well, let me be clear of the motive of this note; this is for ALL. This is for those who possess a heart, lung and mouth. This is for a breathing human being. This is for those who care... care enough to lay an ear for the blind, care enough to dirt their hands for the poor, care enough to invest coins and papers called 'money' for the beggar. This is for those who have voice to speak up for the dumb... for the silenced voices.
Let me skipped the history, dates and statistics. This is a brief testimony from domestic workers who worked in Malaysia with a dream in their mind for a better future, both for self-improvement and mostly for their unselfish reason; for the well being of their family. These testimonies are taken from Tenaganita, The Migrant Voices book, a women and migrant workers organization. Below is the introduction from Dr. Irene Fernandez, the director of Tenaganita;
"Malaysia's economic bloom and its growth to a newly industrialized nation has been brought about and sustained through the work and sweat of migrant workers... Thus, as a nation, we continue to rely on migrant workers to keep our economy going strong."
These are my summaries;
Mohammad Faruk's testimony, 25, from Chartaki Nama Para Village, Kishor Gong in Bangladesh. He shared that he had work for 5 years at Cheras, Selangor. He gets less salary than the amount written in the contract. No double payment for working on Sunday. No annual leave. Work 12 hours per day. 3 months before his working permit expired, the company terminated him without his wages. Reported to the Bangladesh High Commission but no respond, 'Even if they listen, they would say that nothing could be done,' he said. When he went to address the Malaysian authorities, there was no respond either.
He continued, 'If we go out, the police torture us... Are we not human beings, just because we are poor? Don't we all have the right to live in peace?’ In another chapter he said, 'Are we going to die this way? Though we look healthy physically but mentally we are so sick, it's unbearable.' [P.s: This is a mental torture- painful than any physical torture.]
Niraj Bhattarai's testimony, 25, from Dharan, Sunsari in Nepal. He was detained in the KLIA jail for 10 days while waiting for his employers to come to take him. 'How many days do we have to wait without eating?’ he said. In regarding to their terrible living conditions, he shared, '10 people would sleep in one small cramped room. Man will not die by working but man will die without eating... The employer can have one nice corner for a doghouse for his dog, but where are the facilities for us foreign workers?’ 'Our value is less than a machine', he stated as he explaining on one particular case where his Nepalese friend lost two of his fingers during operating a machine. No insurance and security.
They were robbed. Employer keeps their passport. The employers also don't renew their workers’ work permit on time. It is not guaranteed that the workers will get their salary on time. What worst, is that the police ask for money more than RM100 if they don't have original passports, they only have photocopy.
Mohammad Riaz, 27, from Kotkashi Village in Hafizabad, Pakistan. Live in the containers. 50 of them had to cram in one container. Treated like animals. For Syed Mehram Hussain & 11 others, they worked for 2 years without wages.
I could go on but you're busy. You're running out of time. American Idols to catch up. Busy voting for ‘who's the next top super model’. Update with the latest gossips. And I'm wasting your time. [Well, this is good bye... Good Bye.] For those who stay, I don't have any words to say but a humble reminder to motivate you to be the voice… the voice, not just for refugees- but for all those who are in needs. 'Speak up!’ said King Lemuel's mother, 'Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and needy.' (Proverb 31:8,9)
Speak up! Speak up! Speak up!
[It's not all, but it's a good start.]