“I pray to God and the burdens on my heart are lifted.” I am browsing with some staff from the Philippines who have collected together with countless numbers of their countrywomen in Hong Kong’s Statue Sq.. There are teams taking pleasure in each and every other’s organization just about everywhere you search. Some are taking in, browsing, actively playing cards, styling one particular another’s hair and investing romance novels. Others are praying, looking through their Bibles and singing hymns. There are an estimated one hundred twenty,000 feminine employees from the Philippines living in Hong Kong. Most are employed as maids for the city’s wealthy people. These ‘helpers’ ( the frequent term for domestic laborers in Hong Kong) are envisioned to operate twenty four several hours a day, 6 times a week, but government regulations dictate they have to be offered twelve consecutive hours of totally free time every single Sunday. Considering that the girls can’t pay for to go to films or consume in restaurants on their day off, they get in Hong Kong’s practice stations and parks or outdoors public structures.

One Sunday early morning I went down to the coronary heart of Hong Kong’s enterprise district to commit some time chatting with the Filipino girls in a central plaza there. 1 team conveniently agreed to permit me consider their picture and when I instructed them I was producing a tale for a magazine they ended up happy to solution some queries.

The ten girls I spoke with all come from the same rural region in the Philippines. They work in homes in various sections of Hong Kong but on Sundays they meet up with at St. Joseph’s Cathedral located in the Central district. Following mass, which St. Joseph’s celebrates in Tagalong, the language of the Philippines, they get on the porch of the near by Hong Kong regulation courts creating. They unfold newspapers on its cement floor to sit down on, and then invest the afternoon ingesting and browsing. They inform me they are devout Catholics and their religion in God is what will help them endure the separation from their family members in the Philippines and the often cruel and indifferent therapy of their employers. “I pray to God and the burdens on my coronary heart are lifted” one particular female tells me passionately, as she lifts her arms and eyes heavenward.

As we go to I learn some of the females in the group have been below for as minor as 4 months while other people have lived in Hong Kong for as extended as twelve many years. Most have youthful young children at residence and are college educated. They are nurses, academics, physiotherapists, pharmacists, laptop programmers and organization women. They communicate a number of languages. Even so they can make three times a lot more cash in Hong Kong than they can training their professions in the Philippines. They notify me they require money to spend for their kid’s schooling. “To give our kids hope for the foreseeable future”, 1 lady suggests. They all send a substantial portion of their salary property to their family members.

There are several various church teams and companies in Hong Kong which find to provide the Filipina females operating in the town. I spoke with Sue Farley who is on the board of directors for an outreach software operated by the American Baptist Planet Evangelism firm. They open the premises of a neighborhood Bible University on Sundays so the Filipino girls can meet there and take element in Sunday College lessons and a worship services. They have a fulltime director, a girl from the Philippines, who develops associations with the women who attend and functions as an advocate for them when necessary.

Not all businesses take care of their Filipino maids as they must. “They genuinely have outstanding electricity more than the ladies” claims Farley. She tells me that often the domestic helpers have already been taken gain of by unscrupulous middlemen in the Philippines who cost them exorbitant charges for perform visas and transportation to Hong Kong. As a consequence they arrive in the city presently owing a huge amount of money. If they land up with an employer who is not type they wait to report them to the authorities. They want to keep their work to pay out back their journey bank loan and send income residence to their people who are relying on them. “It is not that challenging for employers to split their contracts with Filipino females”, Farley informs me. “And they cannot continue to be here in Hong Kong unless of course they have total time work.” It is easy to see why frequently women tolerate the abuse of their businesses fairly than get authorized motion in opposition to them.

Farley tells me that some girls are sexually harassed. One particular maid confided she slips a chair under the knob of the door in her space before going to mattress, to maintain her boss out. Other individuals usually are not as blessed because they have to sleep on a mat on the kitchen flooring. A single of the Filipino women I spoke to explained she sleeps on the flooring among the beds of the young children in the family in which she is used. That very same maid informed me she is usually hungry. “I can only take in what is still left in excess of following my employers have experienced evening meal.”

Ms. Farley suggests her business will assist the Filipino women lodge complaints from businesses who violate the government rules which use to migrant staff. “We go to court with them or support them file petitions with the Labor Board.”

Ms. Farley is especially impressed with the Filipino girls from their mission who decide on to spend their cherished Sundays off achieving out to their fellow countrywomen. “They visit the parks and squares”, suggests Ms. Farley, “and invite other people to our church providers. They offer to pray with people who appear lonely and increase friendship and a listening ear to these who have worries and problems.”

An additional group that gives support to the Filipino females is Bethune Property, named after Canadian Norman Bethune. He was a health-related medical doctor from Canada who cared for the two Chinese soldiers and civilians during the war against the Japanese in the late 1930’s. Bethune died in China in 1939. Staffed by volunteers from a assortment of Christian denominations Bethune Home delivers shelter and authorized and pastoral council to migrant ladies who have been abused by their employers. It is one a lot more way the Christian group in Hong Kong seeks to attain out to their sisters from the Philippines who are ‘strangers in a peculiar land’. 菲傭

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