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The “Securing Women Migration Cycle” project is aimed at Ethiopian women who emigrated to Lebanon to be employed as domestic workers. After experiencing situations of severe exploitation and violence on the work place, they sought refuge in Caritas shelters, waiting for repatriation. This project envisages a multi-stakeholder approach hinged upon four pillars:

1. The improvement of services provided by three CARITAS shelters (Olive, Pine, Laksetha) in Lebanon through (I) the upgrading of structural conditions of the three buildings; (II) the enhancement of the medical, psychological and legal assistance services offered to domestic workers, informed by the exchange of best practices between the Municipality of Milan (section for the protection of victims of trafficking) and Caritas Lebanon; (III) the training of the staff of the shelter to implement and apply the “Tutor of Resilience” (ToR) model; and (IV) the strengthening of a system to assist domestic workers in the voluntary repatriation process.

2. The strengthening of the system to assist returnees in Ethiopia through (I) the empowerment of women’s professional skills; (II) the provision of information on legal rights; (III) the improvement of job-placement-related services; and (IV) the enhancement of services to assist returnees through the implementation of “Tutor of Resilience” (ToR) model.

3. Promotion of small businesses for beneficiary families, stemming from (I) a preliminary study on employment, small businesses and the use of remittances with microcredit in Ethiopia; (II) the training of beneficiary families on the use of remittances in small businesses; and (III) a group training on savings and investments of remittances in productive activities from an entrepreneurial point of view.

4. Raising the awareness of communities of origin, institutional actors and employment agencies in Ethiopia on the issue of migration, on the rights of returnees and on their possibilities of job placing.

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As part of the project, RiRes organized a capacity building for shelter staff in both Lebanon and Ethiopia, focusing on four aspects:

1) The psychosocial approach: returnees’ needs

Starting from the importance of recognizing these women as actors and agents, the Resilience Research Unit introduced the concepts of resilience, risk factors and protective factors.

2) How to promote resilience

In this module, the emphasis was placed on reconstructing and strengthening the identity of the beneficiaries, conceived as the set of representations of their life stories and of themselves, rooted in the past, actual in the present and shaped by future orientations. Therefore, women are here perceived and conceived as "survivors" endowed with resources, rather than mere victims of violence.

3) Migration and trauma

The third module focused on the peculiarities of migratory trauma and on the identification and recognition of post-traumatic symptoms, both at the verbal and behavioral level, so that operators could detect a malaise in the beneficiaries. Starting from this, the operators were trained in the application of a trauma-informed care approach to be used with final beneficiaries.

4) The experience of being Resilience Tutors

RiRes trained local operators to empower them in assuming the role of "Tutors of Resilience" for returnees women. This process entailed the construction of a trustful and empathic relationship where women could recognize and express their qualities and resources. In the final module, operators were asked to think of a symbol that represented the functions and role of being a Tutor of Resilience, with a twofold goal: verifying the acquisition of contents and helping them in shaping the role of Tutor.



In 2010, the International Labor Organization (ILO) revealed that Ethiopian domestic workers in Lebanon face a triple vulnerability related to: gender, economic factors and social variables. Firstly, in 2020 Lebanon ranked 145th in the Gender Equality Index (GPI), due to the systematic exclusion of women from the political scene, gender stereotypes conveyed by the media, wage differences and poor access to higher education levels for girls. Secondly, migrant women looking for jobs must abide by a system named Kafala. Employers are responsible for workers’ legal residence and workers are bound by an employment relationship with no legal safeguards - such as minimum wages, working time limits and overtime pay. This represents a clear form of exploitation, which often leads to episodes of mistreatment, denigration and abuse. Finally, the migratory experience exacerbates vulnerabilities related to both the route and the insertion in a new context wary of social and family ties. Departure from the place of origin and insertion into an unknown dimension, deemed by Sayad as "double absence", represent a pivotal element of the migratory trauma.

Therefore, Ethiopian domestic workers are perceived - and they perceive themselves - as "transparent women": they are passive, fragile, vulnerable and unable to emerge from this condition. Furthermore, repeated physical and psychological violence exacerbates their sense of annihilation as human beings, which deprives them of their own dignity. For these women, the introduction of the concept of "resilience" allows them to rediscover their value as human beings, endowed with resources. This represents a paradigm shift, from individual weaknesses to deployable resources. The process, on the other hand, cannot be thought as linear as it may appear: aforementioned difficulties exist and represent a constraint. The "Tutors of Resilience" capacity building program endows operators with knowledge, skills and tools to assist and accompany Ethiopian domestic workers. They can support these women in recognizing both internal and external resources that allowed them to go through the adversities they suffered and that will allow them to face future challenges, respecting their times and their needs.

Within the project, resilience was present at 3 levels:

  • At a strategic level: the intervention aims both at buffering passive individuals’ vulnerabilities and enhancing internal and external resources of active subjects, who can (re)write their own history.

  • At a direct operational level: the intervention trains Tutors of Resilience who can recognize the strengths, resources and abilities of returnees.

  • At an indirect operational level: the intervention aims at shaping and strengthening the identity of domestic workers, by making them more aware of their resources, and thus increasing their psycho-physical well-being.

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