• Clement | Consultant

Pots filled with acrylics in a myriad of hues stand in contrast to wet brushes left to dry on the windowsill. Med, a Filipino artist and a migrant domestic worker (MDW), resides in her apartment, where the walls are adorned with numerous paintings narrating the stories of MDWs who have found a new home in Jordan.

Arriving in the Hashemite Kingdom nearly two decades ago, Med not only bears her personal journey but has also artfully crafted a vibrant tapestry of hope and expression for her fellow Filipino MDWs. The labor involved in these responsibilities is often physically and emotionally draining, highlighting the challenges encountered in their everyday lives.

Some of the tools Med used for her latest artwork @IOM/Clement Gibon

In response, the art collective Pinta Kultura offers a sanctuary and outlet of expression, primarily for women, who constitute the majority of MDWs – over 95% according to official statistics. It has also provided a platform for artistic engagement and connection with a diverse community of Jordanians and other nationalities residing in Amman.

Med's artistic journey began in 2005, a chapter scripted amidst the laughter of the two children she was taking care of. A table adorned with crayons became her sanctuary, a space where her love for art took root as she was drawing with the children.

“I got some colorful pencils, crayons, and paper, and I began to draw. I really liked it. I wanted to express my feelings, and it made me happy. I found inspiration in my childhood—those joyful times of playing, laughing and simply enjoying ourselves. As we grow older, we do not really do those things as much. So, I thought, why not put those memories on canvas?” she recalls.

“Every canvas I create tells a story. Often, people ask me if I can recreate a piece, but honestly, I cannot do it. When I draw on a canvas, there's a profound emotion, it's my story, my heart,” she adds.

Med in front of her first Mural that depicts medicine pills and capsules right after her father passed away back in the Philippines @IOM/ Fedza Lukovac

However, Med's efforts extended beyond her own experience. She proactively engaged with fellow migrants in search of a common platform for expression, out of which Pinta Kultura was born. The group gradually expanded until an exhibition was set up in the historic neighborhood of Al Weibdeh.

Today, the women's group gathers weekly in Med's apartment. Besides providing a secure space, Pinta Kultura also allows Filipinos MDWs to express themselves and alleviate the pressures they may face in their daily lives and at work. Among the different challenges faced by MDWs, Med mentions the issue of being away from home, and navigating a tumultuous range of emotions, such as sadness, the loss of someone, or even depression.

“It's tough not seeing your family, missing your mom, your dying father, and not witnessing your niece and nephew growing up. You cannot help but constantly think about what's happening in the Philippines, what your family is eating, and what they are doing. Your worries revolve around their health as the top concern, followed by their safety,” she said.

Med’s paints and brushes @IOM/Clement Gibon

According to Med, the canvases are not simply works of art; they are windows onto the emotions, lives and journeys of migrant women. They invite viewers to explore the complex mosaic of experiences that define the lives of Filipinos MDWs.

Over time, what began as a modest gathering underwent a remarkable transformation into an unexpected artistic collaboration. Med fondly recalls the genesis of a mural that served as a powerful catalyst for unity among Jordanian and Filipino artists. Spanning from August 21 to August 25, 2022, Filipino MDWs and neighbors of diverse nationalities converged to coalesce their creative energies in crafting a vibrant mural along Manila Street.

“It first started as something simple where we were like, let's grab our paints, head to the streets, and start the painting,” Med shares.

What unfolded was a heartening surprise as Filipinos and Jordanians joined in, lending their hands to the evolving artwork. From the break of dawn until the sun dipped below the horizon, a diverse array of people, from locals to laundry workers and shopkeepers, gathered to contribute.

“We gathered every evening and really felt like we could not stop. Every day people were bringing us food, including Filipino, and Jordanian culinary specialties,” Med said.

“It’s a good feeling, as we not only built a mural but also forged a group, friendships, and a sense of family. That is what I find truly amazing” she adds.

Being part of the art community has helped her and others cope with difficult times. As Pinta Kultura looks toward the future, Med envisions a larger community of MDWs and Filipino artists. She extends an invitation: “Join us and build more art and activities, use your talents. Join us.” The collective vision is one of growth, solidarity, and an unwavering commitment to weaving a richer tapestry of art, unity, and empowerment.


SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities