Girls of Faith – Hong Kong’s Filipino Domestic Helpers

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“I pray to God and the burdens on my heart are lifted.” I am browsing with some staff from the Philippines who have gathered together with thousands of their countrywomen in Hong Kong’s Statue Square. There are groups experiencing every single other’s company everywhere you appear. Some are consuming, going to, taking part in cards, styling one particular another’s hair and buying and selling romance novels. Other folks are praying, reading through their Bibles and singing hymns. There are an approximated a hundred and twenty,000 feminine employees from the Philippines residing in Hong Kong. 菲傭公司 Most are utilized as maids for the city’s wealthy households. These ‘helpers’ ( the frequent expression for domestic laborers in Hong Kong) are envisioned to function twenty four hours a working day, six days a 7 days, but authorities regulations dictate they need to be given twelve consecutive hrs of totally free time each and every Sunday. Since the ladies cannot afford to go to films or consume in restaurants on their working day off, they get in Hong Kong’s prepare stations and parks or exterior community structures.

1 Sunday morning I went down to the coronary heart of Hong Kong’s enterprise district to invest some time talking with the Filipino females in a central plaza there. A single group conveniently agreed to permit me consider their image and when I told them I was creating a tale for a magazine they have been pleased to reply some inquiries.

The 10 ladies I spoke with all occur from the exact same rural spot in the Philippines. They operate in properties in different sections of Hong Kong but on Sundays they satisfy at St. Joseph’s Cathedral located in the Central district. After mass, which St. Joseph’s celebrates in Tagalong, the language of the Philippines, they gather on the porch of the around by Hong Kong law courts creating. They unfold newspapers on its cement ground to sit down on, and then commit the afternoon consuming and visiting. They inform me they are devout Catholics and their religion in God is what will help them endure the separation from their households in the Philippines and the sometimes cruel and indifferent therapy of their employers. “I pray to God and the burdens on my coronary heart are lifted” a single female tells me passionately, as she lifts her arms and eyes heavenward.

As we pay a visit to I discover some of the ladies in the group have been listed here for as little as four months while other folks have lived in Hong Kong for as extended as twelve several years. Most have youthful young children at residence and are university educated. They are nurses, academics, physiotherapists, pharmacists, pc programmers and business girls. They speak numerous languages. However they can make a few occasions far more funds in Hong Kong than they can practicing their professions in the Philippines. They explain to me they need income to spend for their kid’s schooling. “To give our kids hope for the long term”, 1 lady suggests. They all send a considerable portion of their wage property to their family members.

There are several different church teams and organizations in Hong Kong which find to provide the Filipina ladies operating in the city. I spoke with Sue Farley who is on the board of administrators for an outreach system operated by the American Baptist Planet Evangelism organization. They open the premises of a local Bible School on Sundays so the Filipino women can meet there and take component in Sunday Faculty courses and a worship services. They have a fulltime director, a female from the Philippines, who develops interactions with the females who go to and functions as an advocate for them when essential.

Not all employers take care of their Filipino maids as they ought to. “They actually have outstanding electricity in excess of the females” claims Farley. She tells me that often the domestic helpers have currently been taken benefit of by unscrupulous middlemen in the Philippines who demand them exorbitant charges for perform visas and transportation to Hong Kong. As a outcome they get there in the metropolis currently owing a big volume of funds. If they land up with an employer who is not variety they be reluctant to report them to the authorities. They need to have to maintain their job to pay out back their travel mortgage and send out income home to their people who are based on them. “It is not that tough for companies to break their contracts with Filipino women”, Farley informs me. “And they are not able to continue to be listed here in Hong Kong unless they have total time work.” It is straightforward to see why typically ladies tolerate the abuse of their businesses rather than consider legal motion from them.

Farley tells me that some females are sexually harassed. A single maid confided she slips a chair below the knob of the door in her space before likely to mattress, to maintain her boss out. Others usually are not as lucky simply because they have to sleep on a mat on the kitchen ground. One of the Filipino females I spoke to stated she sleeps on the floor amongst the beds of the youngsters in the house exactly where she is used. That same maid advised me she is often hungry. “I can only eat what is remaining over soon after my companies have had supper.”

Ms. Farley suggests her organization will support the Filipino females lodge problems from businesses who violate the federal government regulations which implement to migrant workers. “We go to court with them or aid them file petitions with the Labor Board.”

Ms. Farley is specifically impressed with the Filipino ladies from their mission who decide on to invest their valuable Sundays off achieving out to their fellow countrywomen. “They check out the parks and squares”, says Ms. Farley, “and invite others to our church services. They offer to pray with people who seem lonely and extend friendship and a listening ear to people who have concerns and difficulties.”

One more firm that provides support to the Filipino women is Bethune Property, named following Canadian Norman Bethune. He was a health-related medical doctor from Canada who cared for equally Chinese soldiers and civilians for the duration of the war in opposition to the Japanese in the late 1930’s. Bethune died in China in 1939. Staffed by volunteers from a variety of Christian denominations Bethune Residence offers shelter and authorized and pastoral council to migrant women who have been abused by their employers. It is one particular more way the Christian neighborhood in Hong Kong seeks to reach out to their sisters from the Philippines who are ‘strangers in a unusual land’.

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