Frenslyn Villarin testimony
I entered their house on 12 June, 2017. At first, they pretended to be good employers, giving me what I needed, no shouting, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘wow, Lyn, we like you’. They treated me like a human for a total of one month. After that, the ‘f*** you’ and ‘habla’ (idiot) and other Arabic words that back then I didn’t understand started. When the verbal abuse began, I asked them for my freedom and requested they return me to the agency. The next day, the family driver (they are connected to the government and have a driver supplied by the police) took me to the agency office after Cesar told me, “If you want to go back to the office, you have to pay $5000 or I will send you to prison. I am powerful here in Lebanon because my father is the president here.” The day I went to the office, I was so excited because I thought, ‘YES, I am free.’ When I arrived there with the police driver behind me, the agent, Bob, asked me why I wanted to change employers and whether they weren’t treating me well. The driver was listening and sending messages to my employer to tell him what I was saying. At that time, I made a bad decision out of fear and said, “No, they are good, but I can’t handle the children.” Bob told me my problem was simple and I should allow time for the children to like me. As I turned to go I saw the driver calling and saying, “Madam, ma fi mishkale (there is no problem).” When I got back to the house, the Gebaras said, “See. We told you if you leave, you have to pay us.” At that time my husband was unemployed and my daughter had just been diagnosed with enlarged lymph nodes in her neck. I started to accept the reality that maybe this was God’s will for me. I had two workmates, a Sri Lankan woman called Tala and another Filipino called Janice. I saw how they suffered. They hit and punched them. Poor Tala became so thin and sick and one day fell down in ABC Mall because she had no energy. I personally suffered inhumane abuse in their house between 12 June, 2017 and 5 March, 2019. On 2 March, 2019 I was very tired and I worked up the courage to tell them that I wanted to go home because I was the only worker at that time. There was a Lebanese woman doing the ironing but I was in sole charge of the 4 kids and had no proper time to sleep and worked hard all day. I felt very tired and weak and sometimes felt like I was going to fall from dizziness. When I told them I wanted to leave, they immediately called for the driver to take me to their house in Jdeideh next to Pharmacie Nancy owned by my madam. I stayed there for 3 days. The first day, they called my agency and got Jake, a Filipino who works at the agency, to tell me that I could not go home and had to finish my contract. I told Jake that previous workers had gone home to our country without their salary or personal possessions and that even if I finished my contract I thought they’d do the same to me. Jake agreed to talk to Bob and try to help me to leave. I told him that they were animals and when he went they would hit me like they did the other workers and maybe kill me and I begged him to take me to the office but he didn’t believe me and left. Two hours later, Cesar and the Lebanese helper, Meray came in. Cesar told me I had no right to say I was tired and wanted to go home and said I had to stay because the children loved me. I told him I was very tired and my body could no longer handle it. He was quiet and told Meray to go to the salon and check on some things there. When she left, he forcefully put his feet on my head and said in a low voice, “You are a big sharmouta” (whore). I started to cry and said, “Why are you hitting me?” Then Meray came in and said, “Lyn, he is not hitting you. I am here with him.” He was very sneaky. They left. On the second day, Cesar came alone and told me I had to make a deal with him or he would get me sent to prison for life and I would not see my daughter or husband again. He said I couldn’t go because his children were attached to me. I repeated that I needed to leave and once again he kicked me on my head and legs. He said, “Tomorrow I will come back. If you don’t return, you will see what will happen. Maybe the police will come and put you in prison.” The third day came and I was shaking. Cesar came alone again; he walked in singing like the devil. He said, “Stupid sharmouta, if you won’t stay, I will kill you tonight and throw you somewhere and no one will know.” He kicked me again in my head and on my legs. I was crying and he said, “Oh, you have a nice voice even when you’re crying. Mark my words, I will kill you tonight.” And he left. After he left, I prayed, “God, if I die tonight, please take care of my daughter and husband and my family as well. If I die, I know I will be with you.” Then I stood up because I wanted to use the toilet. When I turned my head, I saw a picture of the Virgin Mary in the house next door. This gave me hope. From the window, I saw a woman of about 50 years old, cooking and cleaning. She looked Lebanese. I prayed, “I want to shout to make this woman hear me. I will ask her for help. Send me a sign if I should continue.” I opened the window and shouted, “Madam, madam, please help me, madam!!!” She didn’t hear me. I shouted again even louder and she heard. She said, “Shoo?” (what) You speak English or French?” I told her English and said, “Please, madam, help me. Mr Cesar Gebara, the son of Mr. Antoine Gebara, the president of Beirut, wants to kill me tonight.” Because she couldn’t hear me clearly she made a sign which meant “wait, ok. We will call the police.” Then I saw them talking and they closed all their windows and I knew that when they heard the name Cesar Gebara they became afraid. I waited a long time but they’d closed their windows and I started to cry again. Then I stood up and thought to myself, ‘No! Mary sent me a sign and I have to work for it! I walked into the salon and decided to stay near the locked door so that if I heard any noise I could beat on the door loudly so that someone would hear me. I heard the voice of two women and I beat on the door and screamed, “Madam, madam, I’ve been locked in here by Mr. Cesar Gebara for 3 days and he wants to kill me”. The women said, “Why did he lock you in? What did you do?” I explained how I’d told him I wanted to leave and how every day I felt like I was going to faint and could see all black. I asked them to call the police not him because he would lie to them and kill me. They said that he wouldn’t be able to kill me because they would stay with me. I was scared that he would come but instead he a driver. He said, “Yalla (come on) Lyn, the boss wants to send you to the agency. I told the two women that he would not take me to the agency but he forced me into the car. As we were driving, I noticed that we weren’t going towards the agency and said so to the driver. He asked me, “What happened, Lyn? Did Cesar hit you?” I told him that he’d beat me up and wanted to kill me. He felt pity for me and allowed me to use his phone. I talked to Jake and Bob and told them what had happened. Bob said he would buy me a ticket and that my flight would be at 12:30 in the morning. I saw on the clock that it was only 6 p.m. The driver told me to be strong and said he couldn’t do anything to help me as he was just an employee like me. He stopped the car outside the house and said, “The boss wants to see you.” He took me to the elevator and said that Cesar wanted to put me on the terrace. When we got there, Cesar told Jonny to leave. The only ones there were me, Cesar and another worker. They tied up my hands so I couldn’t move and they closed the door so no one could hear me. Cesar punched me in the head saying, “Sharmouta, we pray your daughter will die soon.” He punched me again, kicked me in the legs and knees and again on the head. I was strong and accepted what was happening. He said, “You cannot go home. You will die here and we will throw you from the window and tell people you committed suicide. No one will ask questions.” I couldn’t breathe and asked for water. He took a glass of water, drank some of it, and threw the rest in my face, laughing all the time. I knew his wife was watching on camera because their house had lots of cctv. I was praying that it would turn 12 so I could go to the airport. He punched me and hit me until 10:30 pm. I heard Bob call him and he replied, “Yes, she is just preparing her things.” He kicked me until I fell over but still I was strong. He got his worker to remove my uniform and ordered him to kick me. I was standing there in my bra and underpants. The worker also hit me. I know he is a good man but he was afraid of Cesar. At 10:30 the police driver arrived. Cesar told me I was going to prison but I knew that Bob had bought me a flight. They lead me down to the car with my hands tied. I never got my personal things and they owe me $1000. The agent helped me out financially but the Gebaras didn’t pay what they owe me. I went to the airport in ripped pants, no bags, no money; just my passport. When I got to the airport, the driver told me, “Don’t talk to anyone. You know how powerful Gebara is.” The ticket was only to Manila but I live in Iloilo. Thankfully, Qatar Airways helped me to get home. They let me fly for free and gave me some money to buy some food and things. Because I didn’t have a phone, they took the phone number and Facebook of another Filipino in the plane and sent my ticket to her. I have messaged the Gebaras since I got home. They replied, “You took more than you deserve and more than your rights other than what you stole from us. You robbed our money (4000$) that was our children’s school payment. I promise I will get back my money from you even if you are in Philippines. I have already contacted the interpol’s offices, and the agencies in Lebanon and the Philippines, and opened a case to get back what you stole from us. Look how crazy you are. Justice is coming.”
They are Christians but they are evil. Every time they had a party, they would give the leftovers to poor people in Lebanon but we ate food that was 6 days old or more. They want people to think they are very good because Mr. Cesar wants to run in politics. All I want now is justice and to be able to buy my daughter diapers.
Felma Reyes Testimony
My name is Felma Reyes. I worked for Cesar and Nancy Gebara from December 2014 until May 2017 – two years and five months. The problem I had with them was that they wouldn’t let me leave even though I’d finished my contract. They said I couldn’t leave because the kids loved me. My body was falling down and one day I feel I fall and die because every night I didn’t sleep because of their babies and the full day’s work. I didn’t have any energy. I told them I wanted to go home and again they said, “No, Felma. You can’t do that.” In the end, I said I wanted to go home on vacation and I would come back. They refused saying that I wouldn’t return but I smiled and said, “I will come back because your kids love me.” After that they talked and said if I come back they can keep me alone in the house because I can do all the work and care for their kids. They decided to let me go home on vacation but they didn’t give me all my salary. I said, “It’s up to you madam/sir if you do that to me.” One day, also, Mr. Gebara beat me on my legs. Janice saw it happen and the kids were crying with me. I was also crying in the car. Two weeks after I got home, madam Nancy called me to see if I was ready to come back and I said, “Sorry, madam, I don’t want to come to your house because my family doesn’t want me to leave. I need a rest, madam. Sorry.” Five months later, Nancy sent me a message saying that I had stolen their things and she called me bad words. I told her I’m not a stupid person to steal her things and I’m not a liar. She has cameras throughout her house. God knows who is the liar. I don’t understand how they could accuse me after I was so good to them, especially their kids. God knows I am telling the truth. They told me they are very powerful and have a lot of money and can do whatever they want. I told myself, ‘I can find money again but not life if I stay in the devil house with the devil sponsor’. I left my $1750 with them. They can be a bit richer from it. The important thing is that I saved my life. I only pray that one day God will punish them for the terrible way they treat poor people, especially domestic workers.
Leanne Joy Roflo testimony
I’m Leanne Joy Roflo. I worked for the Gebaras from July 2013 to October 2015. From 2013 to 2014, I worked in their house and also in Nancy’s mother’s house and Nancy’s pharmacy. I cared for their oldest daughter as well. When madam got pregnant, Felma came so we were two workers. Madam delivered twins; Felma took care of them and I cleaned the house. If the babies were asleep, Felma helped me with the housework. When my contract finished, I told them I wanted to go but they said no. One day, I called my agency in Lebanon and asked sir Gabby, who owns the agency, if I could go back to the Philippines since my contract had finished. He said I could and nobody could force me to stay so the next day, I knocked on their door and I stood and said, “Madam/sir, sorry, I called my agency and asked them if I can go since I finished my contract. The agency said yes.” Mr. Gebarra got angry with me and said, “Who told you that you could use the phone?” I said, “Sir, I only used it to call the office and ask if I can go because you told me I couldn’t go.” Mr Gebarra shouted at me and said he was going to put me in jail. He used many bad words and said he could do anything he wanted because he was a lawyer and his father was president. I stood there and said there was no reason to send me to jail. I had only done my job in his house. That day, madam Nancy sent me to the office and I stayed there 3 weeks before leaving. They did not give me all my salary. They still owe me $1000. My salary was $200 per month and they didn’t pay me the last 5 months.
اسمي فيلما رييس. عملت لدى سيزار ونانسي جبارة من ديسمبر 2014 حتى مايو 2017 – لمدة عامين وخمسة أشهر. كانت المشكلة التي واجهتها معهم أنهم لن يسمحوا لي بالمغادرة رغم أنني قد أنهيت عقدي. قالوا إنه لا يمكنني المغادرة لأن الأطفال أحبوني.
كان جسدي يتهالك وشعرت يوماً أنني أسقط وأموت لأنني لم أنم كل ليلة بسبب أطفالهم والعمل طوال اليوم. لم يكن لدي أي طاقة. قلت لهم إنني أريد العودة إلى وطني ومرة أخرى قالوا: “لا يا فيلما. لا تستطيعين فعل ذلك.”
في النهاية ، قلت إنني أرغب في العودة إلى وطني في إجازة وأعود. رفضوا قائلين إنني لن أعود لكنني ابتسمت وقلت: “سأعود لأن أطفالكم يحبونني”. وبعد ذلك تحدثوا وقالوا إن عدت يمكنهم الاحتفاظ بي وحدي في المنزل لأنني أستطيع فعل كل شيء العمل و رعاية لأطفالهم. قرروا السماح لي بالعودة إلى وطني في إجازة لكنهم لم يعطوني كل راتبي. قلت ، “الأمر متروك لك سيدتي / سيدي إذا فعلت ذلك بي.”في أحد الأيام ، ضربني السيد جبارة أيضًا على ساقي. رأت جانيس ذلك يحدث وكان الأطفال يبكون معي. كنت أبكي أيضا في السيارة. بعد أسبوعين من وصولي إلى بيتي ، اتصلت بي السيدة نانسي لمعرفة ما إذا كنت مستعدة للعودة وقلت: “آسفة يا سيدتي ، لا أريد المجيء إلى منزلك لأن عائلتي لا تريدني أن أغادر. أحتاج إلى الراحة يا سيدتي. آسفة. ”
بعد خمسة أشهر ، بعثت لي نانسي برسالة قائلة إنني سرقت أشياءها ووصفتني بكلمات سيئة. أخبرتها أنني لست شخصاً غبياً لسرقة أشياءها ولست كاذبة. لديها كاميرات في جميع أنحاء منزلها. الله يعلم من هو الكذاب. لا أفهم كيف يمكن أن يتهموني بعد أن كنت طيبة جدا معهم ، ولا سيما أطفالهم. يعلم الله أنني أقول الحقيقة. أخبروني أنهم أقوياء للغاية ولديهم الكثير من المال ويمكنهم فعل ما يريدون. قلت لنفسي ، “يمكنني أن أجد المال مرة أخرى ولكن ليس الحياة إذا بقيت في بيت الشيطان مع راعي الشيطان”. تركت مالي 1750 دولار معهم. يمكن أن تزداد ثروتهم قليلاً من مالي . الشيء المهم هو أنني أنقذت حياتي. أدعو الله أن يعاقبهم في يوم من الأيام على الطريقة الرهيبة التي يعاملون بها الفقراء ، وخاصة عاملات المنازل.
إسمي لين جوي روفلو. عملت عند عائلة جبارة من يوليو 2013 إلى أكتوبر 2015. من 2013 إلى 2014 عملت في منزلهم وأيضاً في منزل والدة نانسي وصيدلية نانسي. قمت برعاية ابنتهم الكبرى كذلك. عندما أصبحت السيدة حامل ، جاءت فيلما و بهذا صرنا عاملتين. ولدت سيدتي توأماً. اعتنت بهم فيلما و أنا قمت بتنظيف المنزل.عندما كان الأطفال ينامون ، كانت فيلما تساعدني في الأعمال المنزلية.عندما انتهى العقد ، أخبرتهم أنني أردت المغادرة لكنهم قالوا لا. في يوم من الأيام ، اتصلت بوكالتي في لبنان وسألت سيد غابي ، الذي يملك الوكالة إذا كان بإمكاني العودة إلى الفلبين بما أن العقد انتهى. قال إنه يمكنني ولا أحد بوسعه أن يجبرني على البقاء لذلك في اليوم التالي ، طرقت بابهم ووقفت وقلت ، “سيدتي ، سيدي ، آسفة ، اتصلت بوكالتي وسألتهم عما إذا كان بإمكاني المغادرة بما أني أنهيت عقدي . قالت الوكالة نعم. ”
غضب السيد جبارة مني وقال:” من قال لك إنك تستطيعين استخدام الهاتف؟ “قلت: ” سيدي ، لقد استخدمته فقط للاتصال بالمكتب والسؤال إن كان بإمكاني الذهاب لأنك أخبرني أنني لا أستطيع الذهاب “. صاح السيد جبارة في وجهي وقال إنه سيضعني في السجن. لقد استخدم العديد من الكلمات السيئة وقال إنه يستطيع فعل أي شيء يريده لأنه محام والده رئيس. وقفت هناك وقلت إنه لا يوجد سبب لإرسالي إلى السجن. لقد قمت فقط بعملي في منزله. في ذلك اليوم ، أرسلتني السيدة نانسي إلى المكتب وبقيت هناك ثلاثة أسابيع لحين مغادرتي. لم يعطوني كل راتبي. ما زالوا مدينون لي بمبلغ 1000 دولار. كان راتبي 200 دولار شهريًا ولم يدفعوا لي آخر 5 أشهر.