How connecting with Indonesia’s local communities can make a difference for migrant domestic workers

May 26, 2022
Category: Capacity Building | PowerUp Campaign

Ismi Malihatun Nasiha has been participating in our Indonesia mentorship programme for the last year. She told us earlier about her journey from migrant domestic worker (MDW) in Singapore to returning home and becoming a paralegal in her community – and how JWB supported her along the way.

However, while she learned much as a member of local organisations Kalyanamitra and SBMI, which focus on women’s rights and migrant workers’ rights respectively, Ismi realised that she still had gaps in her knowledge.

These gaps were key areas for many MDWs also lack: the understanding of workers’ rights in destination countries, and what workers can do to pursue those rights when they face harm.

People have been “desperately looking for decent help” in her community, Ismi stated. She is proud to share she is now in a position to help those in need get priority care from the government, thanks to her training as a mentee.

The mentorship programme is an intensive commitment of over 110 hours across twelve months. It includes hours of online intensive workshops on casework for clients with overseas claims, building relationships with national and overseas service providers, and planning and delivering village discussions to those recently returned home or with family working abroad.

These village discussions involve sharing information with high traffic sending communities for migrant workers. The sessions are vital to building awareness on workers’ rights so that those abroad and their families can protect themselves, or come forward when trouble strikes.

The importance of “building knowledge of what is legal and what is not” when migrating for work is one important message, Ismi said, as is the fact that women face gendered risks of discrimination and violence.

Ismi’s village discussions also cover very personal and sometimes tragic matters. She mentions speaking to mourning relatives on how to deal with repatriation of their loved one’s remains and the administrative process that accompanies a death overseas. This is information that they would otherwise struggle to obtain.

With more people like Ismi and her fellow mentee graduates, a growing cohort of ambassadors will ensure key information can be shared further, across more local communities.

This goal is why she joined the JWB mentorship programme, she says. Ismi has most enjoyed the discussions with organisation leaders and the sharing sessions between mentees, with cross-border litigation being of particular interest.

Speaking with her fellow mentees also helped her deal with the challenge of turning legal theory into language that is easy to understand. Ismi said she is still looking for the “perfect formula” for community communications.

She said it has not all been easy, but she is armed with a greater confidence gained from the mentorship programme and putting her public speaking skills to the test in front of community audiences.

The South Lampung native added that she enjoys the work.

“I enjoy all my activities a lot. I love learning with others,” Ismi said. “It is a great pleasure to be there with people and to finally share my knowledge and experience with them.” This positive attitude, alongside the key skills learned during the mentorship programme, means that Ismi will be able to continue her community outreach and share her knowledge with more people, proving why capacity building is so vital to scaling up our impact at JWB.

By Jonathan White, PR Volunteer @ JWB

The PowerUp Campaign features how JWB scales up its impact through building capacity with our allies. Our partners, including mentors, mentees, funders and frontline organization leaders, came together to share their experiences in our capacity building programs. We also look ahead to how we continue to scale up our impact to ensure that access to justice is as mobile as migrant workers.