DTP alumna Riji Joy is a migrant rights activist, who is associated with the Middle East Centre for Training and Development (MECTD) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Her activity with the Centre includes building the capacity of migrant workers at national and regional level, which includes the post arrival orientation program that is held by the Centre along with the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs in Dubai. MECTD regularly organises workshops, seminars and training pertaining to labor migration in the UAE. They see a key role in bridging knowledge gaps between the UAE government agencies, migrants and international stakeholders who are working in the migration field.
As an Indian, being born and raised in the UAE, she was able to understand the challenges that are faced by migrant workers and their families in a destination country. One of the first issues that was handled by her was from her family itself related to end of service benefits. This was the beginning of her journey in the field of labour migration.
Riji witnessed many migrant workers in similar and worse situations – and she began to help them. She was nominated to participate and help in some of DTP’s first regional capacity building programs in the Middle East on the rights of migrant workers. MECTD itself grew out of those early programs and has been a key partner of Migrant Forum Asia (MFA) and DTP in organising and hosting subsequent programs. These programs have brought together migrant workers’ representatives, government, businesses and NGOs.
Riji was then nominated to participate in DTP’s 24th Annual Regional Human Rights and Peoples Diplomacy Training Program in Nepal in 2014.
“I feel I am a part of DTP now. Participating in DTP training expanded my knowledge and practical skills. I came from a law background. Before joining the MECTD, my knowledge on migrant rights, dignity of migrant workers and international law were limited. I learned so much through the training and DTP’s resource materials. DTP training programs feature contemporary materials and discussions at the training are always great. I have formed better understanding on how to engage and deal with migrant workers rights, and I also feel empowered as I am part of DTP’s extended network.”
Riji believes DTP training is making an impact on the people who are working on migrant rights in the Middle East. She also thinks that DTP/ MFA and MECTD partnership enriched MECTD to engage with stakeholders more meaningfully.
Because of her personal experience, and with her law background, Riji continues pro-bono to help migrant workers to help them to overcome practical challenges related to access to justice, including translating, filing labor complaints, providing direction about where to go to sought help, how migrant workers can get help from their own embassies and so forth.
“Sometimes migrant workers just need little information and that could solve a lot of their problems,” Riji said.