SMFC - safe migration facilitation centre
BRAC’s safe migration facilitation centre started in 2006. It was established with the objective to increase the availability of migration-related support and services at the district level. The SMFCs facilitate migrant workers and their family members to claim their rights and become aware about the importance of safe migration. Currently 16 SMFCs are operating under BRAC’s migration programme. The SMFCs provide information, training and networking support to potential and returnee migrants on various migration-related issues.
The SMFCs provide services to migrants and their families in the following ways:
• Information dissemination in communities through courtyard meetings, pre-decision orientations, pre-departure orientations, arranging IPT shows, video shows, conducting school quiz etc
• Providing information on safe migration process documentation and facilitating migrants to follow the process at the centres
• Providing online visa checking support, free of cost
• Providing referrals for skills and language training for potential migrants
• Creating an enabling environment for support-seeking migrants by establishing linkage with DEMOs, District Probashi Kallyan Desk, Passport office, banks, various training centres, Recruiting agencies, medical check-up centres, employers and migration networks in destination countries
• Providing legal aid support to deceived migrants by facilitating process documentation of legal arbitration
• Providing counselling support to returnee migrant workers for social and family re-integration after return
• Providing rescue support to vulnerable migrant workers at destination countries
• Providing support for costs of transporting dead bodies from the government and for claiming death benefits for the family of deceased migrant workers
• Facilitating community-based voluntary migration forums and community migration volunteers
Migration community volunteers
BRAC’s migration programme developed a community-based volunteers’ pool through providing capacity development trainings and orientations on safe migration process. BRAC gives priority to returnee migrants and spouses of migrant workers during the volunteers’ selection.
Currently, BRAC has 1,417 trained migration volunteers; among them 309 are women and 1,108 are men.
Migration programme volunteer activities are as follows:
• Assist potential migrants in migration process documentation; ie, assistance with application forms, provide guidance with District Employment and Manpower Office (DEMO) registration and others
• Support BRAC to conduct behaviour change activity in communities; ie, arrange courtyard meetings, IPT shows, conduct interpersonal communications (IPC), disseminate information, education and communication (IEC), and behaviour change communications (BCC) materials
• Support migration programme communication workers (CW) and CBO facilitators to conduct mass awareness raising activities in communities
• Assist in social arbitration for money recovery on behalf of deceived migrants
• Create database of potential and returnee migrant workers at respective communities
Government and other civil society organisations support mechanisms are still not sufficient at the local level to address the issue of migrant workers at the community level. Migrant workers often fall victim to deceitful middlemen who are likely to be someone from the community. In this given context there is no other option but the migration forum’s intervention to provide information support to the migrants.
BRAC is facilitating the formation of migration forum since 2007. These forums are formed and operated voluntarily by the community people. Also included are successful returnee migrants and those deceived during the course of their migration. Since the migration forum is formed and maintained by communities themselves, their acceptability and reliability in the community is high.
BRAC has 466 active migration forums currently in 252 upazilas under 42 districts.
Migration forums provide the following supports:
• Arrange migration forum and urgent issue-based meetings regularly and maintain resolutions
• Facilitate social arbitration in the community for deceived migrant workers to recover money from the middlemen
• Maintain referral linkage and networking with migration services providing institutions and duty bearers
• Disseminate IEC materials among migrants and their families
• Create scope of work at the community level for migration programme
Language barrier is one of the main causes of the obstacles Bangladeshi migrants face. Lack of proficiency in the national language of the destination country is a major roadblock. Recognising the urgency of enhancing language skills BRAC initiated community-based language club with the support from returnee migrants, teachers of government technical training centres (TTC) and community people. The a three-month-long training course is designed to teach beginner level proficiency in the language of the destination country . The languages that are taught currently at the club are Arabic, Malaysian and English. BRAC aims to add many more languages to this list.
Interactive popular theatre (IPT)
Interactive popular theatre (IPT) is a very popular and well-accepted form of entertainment in rural communities of Bangladesh. Due to mass acceptance, BRAC is uses this platform to influence positive change in a community’s practice involving migration.
BRAC’s IPT operates under BRAC’s community empowerment programme (CEP). BRAC’s migration programme usesthe platform to disseminate information on safe migration and raise awareness on its importance. The IPT team conducts area studies to collect local incidents and facts on migration. After the study, they produce IPT’s story based on local incidents. The title of the IPT show is Shapno Dekhi Bidesh Jabo (Towards a Dream) is based on a real story.
Currently, 54 IPT teams are raising awareness and disseminating safe migration information in migration-prone districts of Bangladesh.
Pala song and jarigaan (folk songs)
Pala songs and jarigaan are two different popular types of folk songs among rural communities in certain areas of Bangladesh. BRAC’s migration programme disseminates safe migration information and raise awareness on its importance through pala song and jarigaan.
Instead of IPT shows, pala songs and jarigaan are performed at urban slum areas. IPT shows demand open space and proper set-up to stage a popular theatre. But usually in slum areas there are little or no room for this kind of activity.
Audio-visual is an effective way to reach mass audience. The video shows help the communities understand and relate to the stories that had actually occurred in their communites.
BRAC screens video shows at the community level in migration prone districts to raise awareness on safe migration issues and promote safe migration . Shapno Dekhi Bidesh Jabo (Towards a Dream) is one of the films produced by the JSDF project of migration programme. In addition, BRAC’s migration programme included Shapno and jatra (folk theatre)produced by RMMRU on safe migration.
Education and skills development
The migration programme aims to inform and mobilise the broader community to support migrant workers and improve awareness of migration issues by disseminating appropriate information. The programme raises awareness on the risks ofrelying on middlemen and seeking information from unauthorised alternatives.
The programme provides pre-decision training for potential migrants that enable them to analyse social and economic costs and benefits of migration as well as other information needed to make an informed decision. Potential migrants are linked with pre-employment skill development training for better employment and higher wages in destination countries. Migrants and their families are also provided with orientation, access to information and referrals to affordable financial instruments to help cover the upfront costs of migration, including the provision for training, services, information and hands on experience for improved management and use of remittance. Therefore, the main objective of this programme is disseminating in-depth information on how to follow the migration process safely.
Beside this, the programme offers referral linkages to provide skill enhancement training at the government Technical Training Centers (TTCs) and other private training centres with the goal to make migrants eligible for better wages as skilled workers.
The programme will soon offer a pre-departure orientation event which will prepare migrants in the days prior to the departure by outlining the challenges faced at the point of departure from Bangladesh, upon arrival in the host country and during the course of their stay abroad. Training will be module-based covering essential information for getting through airports, including immigration and customs procedures. It will cover cultural, social and legal aspects of the destination country, migrants’ and human rights, health and personal security. Migrants will receive practical information about travel to the host country, who to contact if they encounter difficulties while abroad, knowledge of their rights and issues to consider before returning home, such as health, financial or travel-related information. Outbound female migrants will also receive additional life skills training geared towards specific issues women migrants may face.
Skill training referral
BRAC’s migration programme is providing skill training referral service since 2006. BRAC helps potential migrant workers to find the right trade of skill training based on the kinds of work they are going to do in the destination countries. BRAC liaises with government Technical Training Centre (TTC) to facilitate this support. Until now 136 potential migrants have been referred for skill training to different TTC in Bangladesh.
Income-generating activity (IGA)
BRAC plans to select returnee migrants and orient them on various IGAs to integrate into sustainable livelihood options. BRAC’s microfinance programme provide short-term and mid-term micro-credit in the form of migration loans to selected potential and returnee migrants. The IGA orientation trainings will be followed by IGA counselling and technical support.
Small and medium enterprise (SME)
BRAC plans to facilitate community-based entrepreneurship and improve capacity of SMEs. To achieve this, BRAC plans to facilitate SME implementation through migration forum, CBOs, local NGOs, and community including migrants and migrants’ families. BRAC will bring together migration stakeholders, experts and link them with selected returnee migrants and their families to facilitate SMEs. The financial management training will encompass business financial accounting, profit-loss management accounting and cash flow management. BRAC will also facilitate the SME for their legal registration. The supports required for SME forward and backward linkage will also be part of the intervention.
Life skill education
Women migrant workers who have received pre-decision orientation and have been selected for the skills training will be provided with life skill training from the community as it is essential for their nature of work of being in confinement as a women domestic aid. They will also be provided with health awareness training as well as essential information to reduce vulnerabilities in the workplace.
BRAC’s migration programme facilitates social arbitration at community level to recover money from the middlemen. The social arbitration usually happens when the deceived migrant worker and the middleman who cheated the migrant are from the same locality.
BRAC’s migration forum, community volunteers and SMFCs facilitate this social arbitration by involving local influential people.
Since April 2012 to June 2014, BRAC supported 53 male and seven female migrant workers to recover lost money from middlemen.
BRAC is facilitating migrant workers for legal aid since the programme’s inception. It also facilitates legal aid support for migrant workers by collaborating with District Employment and Manpower Offices (DEMO) and Bureau of Manpower, Employment, Employment and Training (BMET).
Usually if a case is not solved with social arbitration, then BRAC provides support for legal aid process. BRAC provides legal aid support to the migrant workers through the following channels and methods
• BRAC HRLS panel lawyers
• file case at the court through SMFC
• file complain at the BMET through DEMO
• Follow up by Dhaka SMFC if the case processing is delayed
From April 2012 to June 2014, with BRAC’s support, BDT 853, 000 was recovered from recruiting agencies thorough BMET. BRAC provided support to recover BDT 365, 000 from recruiting agencies through court and police stations. BRAC also supported the recovery of BDT 661,000 through its human rights and legal aid services (HRLS) programme.
Rescue support for migrant workers
BRAC provides rescue support to families at home to rescue their family members (migrant worker undergoing extreme conditions) and help them come back to Bangladesh.
Death benefit claiming process support
BRAC helps migrant families to receive dead body transportation cost, which is provided by the Bangladeshi government. BRAC also supports migrant workers’ families with the death benefit claiming process.
From April 2012 to June 2014 BRAC helped 15 migrant workers’ families to claim and receive death benefit. The total amount of death benefits received by migrant workers families amounted to a total of BDT 1,970,000.
BRAC Migration programme plans to undertake a communication campaign titled, ‘It’s time for raising voice for migrants and their family members’ rights, 2014.’ The campaign will engage with migrant workers and their family members through direct interviews and facilitate them to get their voices heard by multi-level stakeholders like service providers, migration rights organisations and policy makers.
The objective of the campaign is to caution migration service providers and policy makers of Bangladesh to be more sensitive towards protecting migrant workers and their family members’ rights.