6th June 2018
By Tom Law

Radio host in Kuwait creates lifeline for abused Filipino domestic workers

On the BBC World Service’s Outlook programme, EJN/ILO Fellow Alisa Reznick talks to Michelle Santiago, the radio host in Kuwait City who’s created a lifeline for abused domestic workers from the Philippines.

Like in other Gulf states, thousands of Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait spend years away from home, sometimes isolated and mistreated inside the private homes they live and work.

Their plight shot into international headlines earlier this year, when local authorities discovered the body of 29-year-old Filipina domestic worker Joanna Demafelis in an abandoned Kuwait City flat.

Santiago’s radio show isn’t political, and it’s not a rescue service. But broadcast live on Facebook, the segment has become a safe haven for migrant women who find themselves with nowhere else to turn.

The programme was broadcast on Tuesday 29 May 2018.

After meeting Alisa, Michelle applied and was accepted as a fellow to the 2018 EJN / ILO fellowship. Find out more about Michelle and the rest of the 2018 fellows here.


You can listen to the full programme here from 37 minutes in.

Michelle Fe ‘Maxxy’ Santiago is a Senior Correspondent and Consultant of ABS-CBN Middle East Bureau/The Filipino Channel, a Senior Reporter at the Arab Times in Kuwait and Founder/Program Director of Pinoy Arabia FM in Kuwait. This article was published with support from the Fairway Fellowship, an initiative of the Ethical Journalism Network and International Labour Organization to support quality reporting on labour migration in the Middle East.

Main image: Michelle Santiago, 45, is a Filipino journalist and radio DJ whose spent the last 18 years reporting on Filipino issues in Kuwait. But through her radio program, she’s become an accidental rescue portal for isolated domestic workers in need of help. (Photo: Alisa Reznick)