“I hope to God and the trouble on my heart are removed. inch I am visiting with some workers from the Philippines who have gathered along with thousands of their countrywomen in Hong Kong’s Statue Sq. There are groups enjoying each other bands company everywhere you look. Some are eating, visiting, charge cards, design one another’s hair and trading romance novels. Others are praying, reading their Bibles and vocal hymns. There are around 120, 000 female workers from the Philippines living in Hong Kong. Nearly all are employed as maids for the city’s wealthy families. These ‘helpers’ ( the common term for domestic workers in Hong Kong) are expected to work one day a day, six days a week, but government regulations determine the doctor has to be given twelve consecutive hours of time to yourself each Saturday. Since the women cannot afford to go to movies or eat in restaurants on their day off, they gather in Hong Kong’s train areas and parks or outside public buildings.
One Saturday morning I was lost to the heart of Hong Kong’s business region to invest some time talking with the Filipino women in a central domestic helper plaza there. One group readily agreed to let me take their picture and when I told them I was writing a tale for a journal these were happy to answer some questions.
The ten women I mention with all come from the same countryside area in the Philippines. They work in homes in numerous parts of Hong Kong but on Sundays they meet at Saint. Joseph’s Cathedral located in the Central region. After mass, which Saint. Joseph’s celebrates in Tagalong, the language of the Philippines, they gather on the veranda of the close by Hong Kong law courts building. They spread newspapers on its concrete floor floor to sit down on, and then spend the afternoon eating and visiting. They tell me they are passionate Catholics and their faith in God is what helps them survive the splitting up from their families in the Philippines and the sometimes vicious and indifferent treatment of their employers. “I hope to God and the trouble on my heart are lifted” one woman tells me passionately, as she comes her hands and eyes heavenward.
Even as visit I discover some of the women in the group have been here for as little as four months while others have lived in Hong Kong for as long as twelve years. Most have young children at home and are university educated. They are nurses, teachers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, computer programmers and business women. They speak several dialects. Yet can make three times more money in Hong Kong than they can practicing their professions in the Philippines. They tell me they need money to pay for their children’s education. “To give our children a cure for the future”, one woman says. They all send a substantial area of their salary home to their families.
There are many different church groups and organizations in Hong Kong which seek to serve the Filipina women getting work done in the city. I mention with Prosecute Farley who is on the board of owners for an outreach program managed by the American Baptist World Evangelism organization. They open the driveway of a local Somebody College on Sundays so the Filipino women can meet there and take part in Saturday School classes and a worship service. They have a fulltime director, a lady from the Philippines, who develops relationships with the women who attend and acts as an advocate for them when necessary.