CHTEA Joins a Global Campaign to Abolish the “Kafala” System in Lebanon

Migrant domestic workers’ lives in Lebanon are getting harder every day. They need action NOW. Lebanon is reeling from an accumulation of unrelenting disasters. A currency crisis, fuel and food shortages, price hikes, electricity outages, the aftermath of a devastating explosion in Beirut last year, and the continuation of a pandemic have plunged the country into a desperate situation that is only made worse for the country’s migrant domestic workers by the kafala system.

Lebanon’s Ministry of Labour must ensure migrant domestic workers are empowered to leave conditions of servitude, particularly during national crises.

Maybe bullet the points below
Governed by the kafala sponsorship system that ties workers’ immigration status to their employers, migrant domestic workers in Lebanon are particularly at risk of exploitation and domestic servitude.

Reports from migrant domestic workers in Lebanon speak of depletion or non-payment of wages, withholding of legal documents such as passports, and exploitative labor conditions are widespread.

Earlier this year, we saw how migrant domestic workers were being dumped by their employers outside of their embassies without their owed wages, their passports, or any financial means to return to their countries of origin.

For some, returning without their wages just isn’t an option. Without the financial support their working in Lebanon promised, some women report fearing retaliation from their communities, including the risk of violence and death.

There was deep concern that the law was not providing adequate protection to domestic workers from exploitation. That is why Freedom United and a coalition of organizations (including CHTEA) are calling on Lebanon’s Ministry of Labour in an open letter to issue clear guidance on migrant domestic workers’ rights to payment of wages and retention of legal documents.

We will be sending the letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants asking them to send an urgent appeal to Lebanon’s government to act.

Sign the open letter today and help us reach 10,000 voices for change!

Lucy Turay is founder of the Domestic Worker Advocacy Network and a campaigner working to raise awareness of the dangers of the kafala system facing domestic workers in Lebanon. In her home country of Sierra Leone, she campaigns for greater protections for migrant domestic workers, recalling her own experiences of being a domestic worker in Lebanon.

She explains:

“The situation of slavery is because of the sponsorship system because the person knows they are entitled to … and because of that, most people treat us like slaves. We [experience] much abuse. Not only from Sierra Leone but many other countries, like Ethiopia, Ghana, Saudia Arabia, etc. We don’t want a sponsorship visa, we are advocating for a work visa. We want people to help us to abolish the kafala system.
The active disempowerment of these workers under the kafala system is further compounded by intersectional discrimination against migrant domestic workers. As predominantly migrant women of color, they are subjected to structural racism and consistent dehumanization that allows for the extreme exploitation of migrant domestic workers to thrive.

In their submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Freedom United partner organization Anti-Racism Movement Lebanon explain:

“The state [also] turned migrant domestic workers into commodities that can be “imported” at high profit, through a kafala (sponsorship) system […] reinforcing the cultural and societal dependence on and conceptualization of migrant domestic workers as an essential “commodity.”


One year later: Commemorating the Lebanon disaster – Kenyans’ candid Survivor voices and videos (never heard nor seen before)

Two enormous explosions devastated Beirut’s port on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 leaving at least 78 people dead and thousands injured, shaking distant buildings and spreading panic and chaos across the Lebanese capital. When this happened, hundreds of Kenyans trapped in a human trafficking situation took the opportunity to rise up and demand to be repatriated.  Owing to their fears of the deteriorating security and economic conditions in Lebanon they ‘stormed’ the Kenyan embassy, prompting the Kenyan government to send a special delegation to assess the situation. Furthermore, all of them were women who had been trapped into exploitation owing to abusive working environment and their inability to travel back to Kenya due to lack of travel documents. Many of them had been trapped in exploitative conditions for over 5 years.

Through the concerted efforts by CHTEA and her partners, a total of 129 Kenyans were evacuated/repatriated back to Kenya between September and November 2020. CHTEA can now for the first time bring you a comprehensive interview clip which provides you with an in-depth set of survivor and expert voices regarding the Lebanese situation as well as the dynamics of trafficking of Kenyans to the Gulf region at large.

You can listen and view the clip here How Kenyan Workers are Trafficked Abroad

 CHTEA & Trauma Counseling

Subsequent to their return, CHTEA has never been able to support the full total of 129 survivors towards their rehabilitation, reintegration and business start-up capital. CHTEA was able to give support to 60 survivors, most of whom were in total despair and had deep Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) conditions.  Some of them had to be referred to a specialist in Trauma Counselling. He is Dr L. Khasakhala, MD. Psychiatrist, PhD in Clinical Psychology and Lecturer at the University of Nairobi.  He has done tremendous work with us for over 8 years when we first took a post-Rwanda genocide survivor to him and he gave her excellent care.  Later she did some studies here and subsequently returned home a totally transformed 21 year old lady.

Special Donations Appeal

As a way of commemorating the first anniversary of the Kenyan Lebanese survivors, CHTEA is making another passionate Appeal for Donations in order to support the pending cases and restore some of the relapses. The average estimate cost of supporting one survivor is approximately USD$200 (psycho-social and business start-up capital).  Some also need school fees assistance to take their children who have been neglected in this critical area to re-enter education and help to break the cycle of poverty in the future. CHTEA will give an equivalent match to any contribution towards this cause. Any donations received will be receipted and full accountability will be provided with respect to expenditure. You can donate using the provided portal elsewhere on this newsletter (either through bank or PayPal). CHTEA will further acknowledge your donation by sending you an Honorary Certificate of Donation for Survivors of Human Trafficking.

Religious Against Human Trafficking – Kenya (RAHT-Kenya): 2021 Conference

RAHT had its annual conference on 16th October 2021 at the Tangaza University College, Nairobi. Even though a majority of the participants were following proceeding online, the conference nevertheless, attracted major speakers from the Government of Kenya, Talitha Kum, University Dons, The Church and the Civil Society. The RAHT annual conference idea was conceived in 2018. CHTEA is a collaborating member of RAHT.

Foundations of RAHT

Vision: Inspired by the mercy of God, we envision a world free from Human Trafficking.
Mission: To uphold human dignity at all costs from modern-day slavery to freedom by collaborating in eradicating human trafficking.

Founding Congregations

Canossian Sisters
Comboni Missionary Sisters
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
Medical Missionaries of Mary
Missionary Benedictine Sisters
Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa
St. Patrick’s Missionary Society
Brothers of St Francis Xavier (Xaverian Brothers)

Later, the founder members admitted the following membership:

  • Consolata Missionaries (IMC)
  • Contemplative Missionary Sisters of St De Foucauld (MDF)
  • Edmund Rice Advocacy Network (ERAN)
  • Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)
  • Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph (FSJ)
  • Incarnate Word Sisters (CVI)
  • Institute of the Blessed Virgin of Mary – Loreto Sisters (IBVM)
  • Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB)
  • Little Sisters of St. Joseph (LSSJ)
  • Quebec Missionaries (Foreign Mission Society, SME)
  • Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSM)
  • Sisters of St Joseph of Mombasa (SSJ)
  • Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SSHJ)
  • Society of Missionaries of Africa (M. Afr.)
  • Yarumal Missionaries (MXY)


  • Counter Human Trafficking Trust – East Africa (CHTEA)
  • HAART- Kenya
  • Sema Nami


  • Justice and Peace group (Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish – South B)
  • Patrick Society & SPS Safeguarding Children Project
  • Maryknoll Lay Missionaries

RAHT is hosted by RACK and AOSK and an affiliate of the Talitha Kum International (a global network of women religious congregations with headquarters in Rome).

 The Journey: RAHT from 2019 to 2021

  • On February 9th 2019 a Symposium was convened, followed by a 3-days training in March the same year.
  • In April 2019, field research was carried out in Kayamaiko, Nairobi to establish the child trafficking and child labor situation at the slaughter houses. A Position Paper was submitted to KCCB for endorsement. The research project was done in collaboration with CHTEA and members of Yarumal Missionaries and Contemplative Missionaries of St Charles de Foucauld.
  • In July 2019, RAHT convened a 3-days’ Training-of-Trainers’ workshop which had representation from the Eastern Africa region.
  • In September, 19-27, 2019, RAHT–KENYA was officially represented at the 10th anniversary of the international assembly of Talitha Kum in Rome, Italy.
  • In October 2019, a 3-days’ training was conducted to ground workers of slum areas within Mathare-Kariobangi-Kayamaiko-Ruaraka. The training was conducted by CHTEA, a collaborator with RAHT.
  • In November 2019, Human Trafficking awareness was carried out at the Tanzania-Kenya Border of Namanga to the youth by the Quebec Missionaries Parish.
  • On February 8th, 2020, RAHT participated in the World Day of Prayer through members’ initiatives
  • In April-May, 2020, members responded to the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns in different ways for example, St Patrick Society used the Child Safeguarding Program. Changes had to be effected to align with the changing Covid-19 situation/environment.
  • In July 2020, RAHT held an online sharing of Best Practices of Members and collaborators and this was carried out successfully.
  • On January 7th, 2021, Talitha Kum conducted a Leadership Course through an on-line workshop. It was dubbed “Impact of COVID-19 to migrants vulnerable to Human Trafficking”. The course incorporated participants from Kenya, Uganda & the United Arab Emirates.
  • On January 31st, 2021, RAHT held its first Annual General Meeting of members. During the same meeting, the leadership presented the final version of the RAHT Policy and 2021 program of activities.
  • On February 8th, during the World Day of Prayer, members took different initiatives in their Parishes.
  • On February 11-12, 2021, there was an on-line awareness training to the Seminarians & Lay partners of the Quebec Missionaries.
  • On March 6th, 2021, during the Celebration of International Day of Women, RAHT commemorated the event at Mombasa in collaboration with the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya, Misereor and the Archdiocese of Mombasa.
  • From May 22nd to 23rd, RAHT convened the first of 3-phased Training- of-Trainers for the Coastal areas in collaboration with Caritas Mombasa and with funding by Talitha Kum
  • During July and August 2021, in an effort to commemorate the international United Nations’ World Day against Human Trafficking, RAHT organized a talk show series through a Catholic FM Radio called Waumini. RAHT members and survivors participated in the talk shows some of which drew a lot of interest from the public audience.