Dedicated to Serve Humanity

Mrs Marietta Dias, Chairperson of the Migrant Workers Protection Society

At times we come across those individuals who come to this world to serve humanity. They do it relentlessly, selflessly and with conviction for years on end. The plight of the poor, their exploitations and sufferings pain these people immensely and they leave no stone unturned to be the voice of the downtrodden who can’t stand up to fight for themselves. Meet Mrs Marietta Dias, Chairperson of the Migrant Workers Protection Society, who is synonymous to hope, strength, justice, relief and reassurance to countless low-income migrant workers in Bahrain.

Tell us briefly about yourself: where you were born and raised, any special childhood memory?

I was born in 1944 in Kolar Town, the only child of a Parsi father and a Malayalee Mother and then raised till the age of 19 in Bangalore, India.

In those days there was a great sense of community so everyone looked out for each other as a result of which even though I came from a humble background I had a happy, adventurous childhood always in the company of people.

What has been your educational and professional background?

My parents were not well off so all they could afford was a high school education for me but the good and honest  values I was taught  at school has withstood the test of time over and over again and has brought me to where I am today.

I arrived in Bahrain in 1964 after my marriage, secured a job with Gulf Aviation in 1967 as a clerk/typist on a princely salary of Rs. 300/- (BD.30/-), was later seconded to the Bahrain Royal Flight from where I retired in 2004 as the Deputy Director – Administration. That’s saying something for someone with just a High School Pass and 36 years in the same company to boot!

Was social work always a calling for you? Tell us how and when you got initiated into this.

Social work must have always been a calling though I never thought of it that way.  From my arrival in Bahrain way back in 1964, I started helping those in distress who normally reached out to the Church for solace and help. That lead to work that I would never have thought I would undertake like becoming the undertaker (excuse the pun) to the Christian community and housing people who had nowhere else to turn to.This of course lead to so many good and bad adventures of their own.

Chairperson of the Migrant Workers’ Protection Society (MWPS). Please tell us about the achievements of the organization under your able leadership.

I am one of the founding members of the Migrant Workers Protection Society which was established in 2005 and have always been on the executive board.  For the past 5 years
I have held the position of Chairperson and I think a combination of the experience of senior members coupled with the zeal and enthusiasm of young dynamic new members has taken the Society to a height where it is well-respected and recognized nationally, regionally and internationally, for the work it tirelessly does on behalf of low income workers who are vulnerable and have no voice of their own.

The Society was the first to open a shelter for abused women migrant workers.

The leadership and government of Bahrain continuously encourage, applaud and acknowledge our efforts and recommendations on behalf of migrant workers in the Kingdom and many changes for the better are being gradually brought about.

Our achievements are too many to mention but suffice to say the work we carry out is very unique, important and far-reaching.

Mrs Marietta Dias, Chairperson of the Migrant Workers Protection Society

What have been some of the common problems that migrant workers require protection against?

Our earnest desire is that migrant workers are made aware of their rights and responsibilities before they leave the shores of their home country because the abuse and exploitation usually begins well before they leave their homeland.

Once here, most common complaints they have is non-payment or irregular payment of salaries. Abuses come in the form of blatant disregard of basic human rights, non payment or irregular payment of salaries, sub-standard accommodation, sexual, emotional and physical abuse, false accusations of theft and deceit, disregard  by sponsors to terms of  employment contracts and labour laws, and so on.

Sometimes, they need protection against abusive and heartless employers who treat them more like commodities rather than living human beings.

Any memorable incident as the Chairperson of the MWPS?

Every time a case comes to a satisfactory conclusion is a memorable incident because long hours and endless effort and energy is put into each and every case that is brought to our attention. Of course along the way there are so many human stories that touch you so deeply that they give you the added resolve and determination to keep forging on.

How can an individual contribute to society beyond his professional work?

There are opportunities to do so at every turn if only you have the will and the inclination.  Just smiling at workers can make a tremendous difference to their day. Distribute food and water and clothes in any quantity, give financial aid but most importantly get personally involved.I guarantee it will give you such special satisfaction.  JOIN MWPS!!

IMG_8905Briefly tell us about the achievements and awards that you have received  so far?

The BENEMERENTI GOLD MEDAL from the Vatican in September 1985 and  ‘THE 2008 HERO ACTING TO END MODERN-DAY SLAVERY AWARD’ from the  Department of State, United States of America, deserve a special mention among the many awards and achievements I have received over the years, but with each recognition comes the added responsibility to the people who have put their belief in the work you do and you simply cannot let them down.

What do you aim to accomplish in the next 5 years?

That every guest worker is eventually treated with the respect and value they are entitled to, paid salaries in line with international standards and be afforded better working and
living conditions. These changes are already taking place on a slow but very steady pace.

What is your message to the migrant workers of Bahrain?

Familiarize yourself with your rights and responsibilities, work to the best of your ability and follow the laws and statutes of the country.