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August 10, 2023

Down with Kafala!, Aya Abdallah, MFA Digital + Media ’24

by ayaabdallahrisd

Hi! This post is long overdue as I am more than a month into my internship, but here we go!


It has been a vibrant two months back in my home city, Beirut. The weather is harsh, but nothing that a trip to the beach can’t fix!
Still amidst a political and financial crisis, and still recovering from the tragic Port Blast of 2020, the city’s problems remain the same, anxieties rush back and take a toll on you at some times. Other times, you experience the rich culture and joy of being back amongst your family and community.
My internship experience at the Anti-Racism Movement (ARM) has been expectedly great so far. They recently took over a 3000 sqm open-floor space located on the outskirts of Beirut. Coincidently, this space was previously used by Ashkal Alwan, a well-known art institute that ran exhibitions, talks, residencies…that I frequently visited. Being in a familiar space definitely helped me quickly adapt.

During the first week of the internship, I got introduced to the entire team at ARM and the Migrant Community Center (MCC) which both operate in the same space. It’s been a great pleasure to personally meet with migrant workers to listen and learn from their experiences and their plight against the Kafala (sponsorship) system. It does become overwhelming at times and it is difficult to not be emotional, but the solidarity network and community building that is formed as a result of a shared struggle is something to be celebrated.

I am currently working on three different but related projects.
1- An exhibition, set to open in December 2023, archiving 12 years of activism against the Kafala system.
2- Conceptualizing an idea for a Blog, to be operated by migrant workers as a platform to share and spread their stories.
3- Media monitoring reports and analysis.

I’m excited and looking forward to sharing more details of the work we’re doing at ARM in the following week.

Stay tuned !
– Aya

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