Doreen

Doreen Gets Her $9,000 & Dances With Joy

Thanks to pressure from This Is Lebanon, Doreen’s employers finally let her return home on 7 June, 2019. She left Lebanon with $1,000 in cash and $9,197 paid via Western Union in four separate payments. No wonder Doreen was dancing with joy when she got home.

THE STORY

Doreen arrived in Lebanon to begin work as a domestic helper on 24 August, 2011. She left behind her family in Kenya. Little did she know that she would struggle to get paid her basic salary, and that she would be allowed only limited contact with her family. Although she eventually got her salary, she was underpaid for the whole six years she spent working in Lebanon.


Doreen’s employers owned a large company in Beirut’s Downtown area. However, she was sent to work for the company owner’s elderly mother, who lived in a small town in the mountains east of Beirut. She lived and worked there for six years.


Doreen’s work entailed not just taking care of the old woman, but also working in the garden and climbing pine trees to harvest the pine nuts. Her employers said they would pay her extra for this work, but never did.


In 2017, after six years of work in Lebanon and with only rare contact with her family, Doreen begged to go home. She managed to get home to Kenya, but her employers still owed her thousands of dollars of unpaid salary.


Out of desperation to get her money, Doreen returned to Lebanon two weeks later – against her family’s wishes. Once more, she was denied contact with her family, and the promised salary was never paid.


On 10 May, 2019, Doreen’s brother, Jackson, contacted This Is Lebanon. He was worried because his sister hadn’t remitted money for years, and wasn’t in contact with them. By then, she was owed $10,900.


This Is Lebanon contacted Doreen’s employers. At first, they denied even knowing who she was. When they realised they had been discovered, they tried to bargain with Doreen over the amount they owed her. They told her that they’d had to travel back and forth to the town in the mountains to get her paperwork done, and therefore had to deduct $2,000.


They also told This Is Lebanon that Doreen had decided to buy gifts of clothes and phones for her family to the value of $2,000. Meanwhile, Doreen’s employers told her to take their daughter’s old clothes and tell This Is Lebanon that she’d bought them new.


In the end, they decided to pay her the full amount out of fear that she would expose them when she got home.


In Lebanon, Kenyans typically get paid $250 per month for the first year, and $300 thereafter. Despite this, Doreen was only ever paid $200 per month.


Thanks to pressure from This Is Lebanon, Doreen’s employers finally let her return home on 7 June, 2019. She left Lebanon with $1,000 in cash and $9,197 paid via Western Union in four separate payments. No wonder Doreen was dancing with joy when she got home.


As agreed with Doreen’s employers, we have kept our promise to protect their anonymity.

Doreen Gets Her $9197

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