Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 13th, 2015


Syrian refugees displace priority to aiding migrant workers

With the number of displaced Syrian refugees now estimated at 1.3 million in Lebanon, the status of other communities in need, such as migrant domestic workers, appears to be suffering.

“Migrant workers are not exactly a top priority at this time, since currently the more pressing issue of Syrian refugees has overwhelmed [the priorities of] donors. We [largely rely on fundraising because] most migrant workers do not have… disposable income to spend on [our educational] classes and activities,” Rana Boukarim, dual program manager of the Anti-Racism Movement (ARM) and Migrant Community Center (MCC) in Lebanon told

(Education minister confirmed that Lebanon will shortly receive aid to educate the refuge Syrian students)

Organizations like MCC, which last month launched a crowd-funding campaign to keep the center in operation, work toward empowering the migrant worker community in Lebanon through social events, workshops and language courses.

For the most part, these activities are free or offered at a very minimal cost to migrant domestic workers.

MCC now says it needs to raise $25,000 to cover the costs of hosting classes, community events, workshops, training sessions, field trips and awareness campaigns.

While MCC receives funding from the Open Society Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, these donations only serve to meet basic operational costs.

Within the last year, the center has been forced to cut back most of its activities just to remain open. “This is why we have launched the Indiegogo campaign: in the hope that all of MCC’s individual supporters can help ensure it survives and moves forward,” said Boukarim.

As of 2012, studies estimate that the number of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon is between 150,000 and 220,000.

MCC first opened its doors in September of 2011 in Nabaa, but moved to the Gemmayzeh neighborhood of Achrafieh two years later.

With the goal of empowerment, MCC is a center managed by migrant workers for migrant workers.

“The idea was to create a free, open, and safe space where migrant workers could get together, have meetings, talk about instances of abuse, socialize and access information. Basically, they have a support system [here], and a place to go, both of which were sorely lacking [prior to the formation of this center],” Boukarim said.

The migrant community in Lebanon, which is composed predominately of individuals from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Nepal, the Philippines, Madagascar and Bangladesh, is subject to the controversial “kafala” (sponsorship) system which restricts workers from moving to a new job before their contracts end unless they obtain their employer’s consent, and is devoid of mechanisms to protect women when they are abused, mistreated or denied fair treatment.

Devoid of basic legal protections and rights, the “kafala” system has been referred to as a form of modern-day slavery.

Most disturbing is the high rate of unnatural death and suicide noted among domestic workers, with at least one death occurring per week, according to a 2008 report by Human Rights Watch.

Beyond offering a place for them to build community ties, MCC is helping migrant workers fight for their rights.

“By contributing to the empowerment of migrant workers and increasing their access to tools, information, resources and online platforms, MCC has supported migrant workers to increasingly join the fight against discrimination and exploitation,” said Boukarim.

“Really, we are grateful for MCC, one migrant worker, Lydia from Kenya, told “Sometimes we go for activities outside and visit places… it’s fun because when you [spend so much time] working [inside], you don’t [normally] get to go to these places.”

Another migrant, Anna from Sri Lanka, said, “Maybe I want to have my birthday or a party; I can come and do [it here].”

“When MCC opened, it was the first time I was invited to a place that said this house is for you,” said Mohammad from Sierra Leone, adding, “I’ve been here for 20 years, and the difference between the [past 17 years] and these last three years [is huge]. For these three years, really, [it’s made me] feel like I have my own home.”

Currently, the center has over 100 registered members, however many more unregistered members benefit from MCC and its activities. At the time of writing, the campaign has received around $3,500 toward its goal. The campaign will continue through March 28.

Those who are unable to contribute financially but still want to help are encouraged to share the campaign via social media and through word of mouth.

A list of items that can be donated is also available here on the campaign page. Additionally, MCC is always looking for new volunteers to teach classes and help plan future events.

Article of posted this March 12, 2015

To donate to the Migrant Community Center’s fundraising campaign, head to the indigogo crowdsourcing website. To learn more about MCC, visit

From an article of Beirut-com



Got a wicked problem to resolve?

“Next time you’re confronted with an interesting challenge, remember what design has to teach us: Make your ideas visible, tangible, and consequential. It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s powerful.” – Tom Wujec

Some years ago, I stumbled across a simple design exercise that helps people understand and solve complex problems, and like many of these design exercises, it kind of seems trivial at first, but under deep inspection, it turns out that it reveals unexpected truths about the way that we collaborate and make sense of things.

0:31 The exercise has 3 parts and begins with something that we all know how to do, which is how to make toast.

It begins with a clean sheet of paper, a felt marker, and without using any words, you begin to draw how to make toast. And most people draw something like this. They draw a loaf of bread, which is sliced, then put into a toaster. The toast is then deposited for some time. It pops up, and then voila! After two minutes, toast and happiness.

1:00 Now, over the years, I’ve collected many hundreds of drawings of these toasts, and some of them are very good, because they really illustrate the toast-making process quite clearly. And then there are some that are not so good. They really suck, actually, because you don’t know what they’re trying to say.

Under close inspection, some reveal some aspects of toast-making while hiding others. So there’s some that are all about the toast, and all about the transformation of toast. And there’s others that are all about the toaster, and the engineers love to draw the mechanics of this. (Laughter) And then there are others that are about people.

It’s about visualizing the experience that people have.

And then there are others that are about the supply chain of making toast that goes all the way back to the store.

It goes through the supply chain networks of teleportation and all the way back to the field and wheat, and one all actually goes all the way back to the Big Bang. So it’s crazy stuff.

But I think it’s obvious that even though these drawings are really wildly different, they share a common quality, and I’m wondering if you can see it. Do you see it? What’s common about these?

2:10 Most drawings have nodes and links.

So nodes represent the tangible objects like the toaster and people, and links represent the connections between the nodes. And it’s the combination of links and nodes that produces a full systems model, and it makes our private mental models visible about how we think something works.

So that’s the value of these things.

What’s interesting about these systems models is how they reveal our various points of view. For example, Americans make toast with a toaster. That seems obvious. Whereas many Europeans make toast with a frying pan, of course, and many students make toast with a fire. I don’t really understand this. A lot of MBA students do this.

2:56 You can measure the complexity by counting the number of nodes, and the average illustration has between four and eight nodes. Less than that, the drawing seems trivial, but it’s quick to understand, and more than 13, the drawing produces a feeling of map shock. It’s too complex.

The sweet spot is between 5 and 13.

So if you want to communicate something visually, have between five and 13 nodes in your diagram. Though we may not be skilled at drawing, the point is that we intuitively know how to break down complex things into simple things and then bring them back together again.

3:35 This brings us to our second part of the exercise, which is how to make toast, but now with sticky notes or with cards. So what happens then?

With cards, most people tend to draw clear, more detailed, and more logical nodes.

You can see the step by step analysis that takes place, and as they build up their model, they move their nodes around, rearranging them like Lego blocks. Now, though this might seem trivial, it’s actually really important. This rapid iteration of expressing and then reflecting and analyzing is really the only way in which we get clarity.

It’s the essence of the design process. And systems theorists do tell us that the ease with which we can change a representation correlates to our willingness to improve the model.

So sticky note systems are not only more fluid, they generally produce way more nodes than static drawings. The drawings are much richer.

4:34 And this brings us to our third part of the exercise, which is to draw how to make toast, but this time in a group. So what happens then? Well, here’s what happens.

It starts out messy, and then it gets really messy, and then it gets messier, but as people refine the models, the best nodes become more prominent, and with each iteration, the model becomes clearer because people build on top of each other’s ideas.

What emerges is a unified systems model that integrates the diversity of everyone’s individual points of view, so that’s a really different outcome from what usually happens in meetings, isn’t it?

These drawings can contain 20 or more nodes, but participants don’t feel map shock because they participate in the building of their models themselves. Now, what’s also really interesting, that the groups spontaneously mix and add additional layers of organization to it.

To deal with contradictions, for example, they add branching patterns and parallel patterns. Oh, and by the way, if they do it in complete silence, they do it much better and much more quickly. Really interesting — talking gets in the way.

5:41 Here’s some key lessons that can emerge from this.

First, drawing helps us understand the situations as systems with nodes and their relationships.

Movable cards produce better systems models, because we iterate much more fluidly.

And then the group notes produce the most comprehensive models because we synthesize several points of view. So that’s interesting.

When people work together under the right circumstances, group models are much better than individual models.

6:11 This approach works really great for drawing how to make toast, but what if you wanted to draw something more relevant or pressing, like your organizational vision, or customer experience, or long-term sustainability?

6:27 There’s a visual revolution that’s taking place as more organizations are addressing their wicked problems by collaboratively drawing them out. And I’m convinced that those who see their world as movable nodes and links really have an edge.

6:44 And the practice is really pretty simple. You start with a question, you collect the nodes, you refine the nodes, you do it over again, you refine and refine and refine, and the patterns emerge, and the group gets clarity and you answer the question.

7:04 This simple act of visualizing and doing over and over again produces some really remarkable outcomes. What’s really important to know is that it’s the conversations that are the important aspects, not just the models themselves.

And these visual frames of reference can grow to several hundreds or even thousands of nodes. So, one example is from an organization called Rodale. Big publishing company.

They lost a bunch of money one year, and their executive team for three days visualized their entire practice. And what’s interesting is that after visualizing the entire business, systems upon systems, they reclaimed 50 million dollars of revenue, and they also moved from a D rating to an A rating from their customers. Why?

Because there’s alignment from the executive team. So I’m now on a mission to help organizations solve their wicked problems by using collaborative visualization, and on a site that I’ve produced called, I’ve collected a bunch of best practices. and so you can learn how to run a workshop here, you can learn more about the visual language and the structure of links and nodes that you can apply to general problem-solving, and download examples of various templates for unpacking the thorny problems that we all face in our organizations.

The seemingly trivial design exercise of drawing toast helps us get clear, engaged and aligned.

8:37 Next time you’re confronted with an interesting challenge, remember what design has to teach us. Make your ideas visible, tangible, and consequential. It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s powerful, and I believe it’s an idea worth celebrating. 

Making toast doesn’t sound very complicated — until someone asks you to draw the process, step by step. Tom Wujec loves asking people and teams to draw how…|By Tom Wujec




March 2015

Blog Stats

  • 1,516,585 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 822 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: