Hong Kong’s Migrant Community Features in English, Filipino & Indonesian
Apr / May 2022
Special community showcase edition
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A word from the founders HI PANGYAOS! Welcome to Pangyao Magazine Issue #4: our special digital community showcase edition! The past few months have been nothing if not challenging. The health measures brought on by the 5th wave of COVID-19 have been the most restrictive, and their effects the most trying. During this time, many migrant workers have found themselves faced with unprecedented hardships. Yet, in the midst of this chaos, something wonderful emerged: a collective spirit of cooperation, compassion and determination. A massive joint effort by the Migrant Domestic Workers (MDW) coalition – an alliance of 14 different NGOs, including Pangyao – pulled together in this time of great need, offering help and resources to the city’s most vulnerable, and rallying support for the migrant community. Even in these darkest of times, these organisations – alongside their devoted staff, volunteers and ambassadors – proved once again that we’re stronger together. The following pages are a celebration of talent and flair, bravery and kindness, support and friendship – a showcase of the passion and dedication that inspired us to start Pangyao in the first place. Please take time to read the poems, browse the photos, and learn about the multitude of groups and organisations, all of which contribute to Hong Kong’s glorious diversity . Although just a small slice of a much bigger picture, the voices, creative minds and stories within these pages have the power to uplift, inspire, and most importantly, bring hope for the future. This issue is our love letter to the migrant worker community. Like a lighthouse guiding through the darkness, tales of strength and courage are much needed during these uncertain times, and we are honoured to provide the stage for these stories to be shared. Aileen & Martin
Advertise with 6626 9751 (Aileen) firstname.lastname@example.org Be part of the change for good
Pangyao Magazine offers comprehensive, cost effective advertising solutions for migrant-focused businesses of all shapes and sizes, allowing you to engage directly with our active and ever-growing audience. 3
Issue 4 Apr / May 22
Community showcase edition
Cover design by: Steve Ellul of Cedar Hong Kong, based on original photos provided by Domestic Workers Corner
Philippine Consulate General’s message A word from Consul General Raly Tejada
Everything in moderation! Meet our amazing Pangyaos moderators
Conversation with Ron Why do we write? Ron shares his passion
Poetry corner - extended edition! Feat. Horizons, Migrant Writers of HK and DWC
Coping with stress and anxiety during COVID In collaboration with Uplifters
16 19 20 22 24
The spirit of community Solidarity of the Indonesian MDW community A taste of home: Pork adobo Aileen’s take on a Filipino classic Blogs: Reminiscence A personal account by Rubilyn Bollion Cadao NGO spotlight: Okay Minds Exploring the importance of mental health Pangyao pics Announcing our #tattooedonmymind winner!
26 29 32 34 36 39 40 42 44 46
The Hong Kong Profile: Rodelia M. Pedro The founder of Domestic Workers Corner Spring celebration Popular festivals across the Asia region Blogs: A mother’s scar The challenges of an OFW mother, by Pia Don’t suffer in silence: counselling services In collaboration with The Zubin Foundation NGO spotlight: Green Hour Keeping Hong Kong’s beaches clean Aileen Asks: Equal Opportunities Commission Aileen talks EOC officer Devi Novianti NGO spotlight: Splash Creating a wave of opportunity in the water Sepotong Senja Pengobat Rindu untuk Anakku In collaboration with TCK Learning Centre Mother’s Day: Celebrating migrant mothers In collaboration with Pathfinders Know Your Pangyao: Will from 1ofaKind In collaboration with Impact HK
Interested to read more? Check out these published books from some of our contributors, available now on Amazon! Ody Munson: Chasing Horizons
Ron R. Lacson: Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Ailenemae Ramos: Beyond the Sunset
Bernadith Bueno De La Cruz A Call to Remember: A Journey with the Swiss
Special thanks to all our collaborators!
Domestic Workers Corner
Award-winning online migrant support group run by migrant workers
Empowering underprivileged communities with online education
Raising awareness about emotional intelligence and mental resiliency
Promoting sustainable practices in Hong Kong and beyond
Assists pregnant migrant workers, mothers and their babies born in HK
The Zubin Foundation
Improving the lives and reducing the suffering of HK’s ethnic minorities
TCK Learning Centre
Volunteer-led training and education for migrant domestic workers
A platform for migrant workers to share their creativity with the world
Transforming the lives of the Hong Kong’s homeless community
Providing opportunities for under-resourced communities to learn to swim
Migrant Writers of Hong Kong
A literary page for creative writing and a home for arts and creations
...and our individual contributors Ron R. Lacson, Edina Bueza, Aljen Dela Cruz, Ody Munson, Maria Editha Garma-Respicio, Jenieliza Martin, Sheryl Penaflor, Reynalyn Molina Vergara, Bun So, Camille Bethoux, Gaia Guatri, Rubilyn Bollion Cadao, Pia, Devi Novianti, Zach Berkenkotter and Endang Dwi Ernawati
Consul General Raly L. Tejada’s
Easter 2022 message
For Hong Kong’s Filipino community GREETINGS OF JOY AND PEACE! The Consulate General of the Philippines in Hong Kong joins the Filipino Community in celebrating the Easter season and the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the past two years, we have lived through the dark shroud of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused great suffering and has claimed the lives of millions all over the world. Our way of life was completely upended as we struggled to live as close to normal as we could, finding ways to navigate through the forest of restrictions and medical protocols instituted by state authorities, in the interest of public safety.
But through our efforts, cooperation, and bayanihan, we have seen these challenges through, and we now have a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. As we transition, hopefully, into the next phase of recovery from the pandemic, may we be reminded of the innate goodness and humanity within us, and help uplift our fellowmen, ensuring that no one will be left behind. Let us walk out of the shadow of the pandemic together as one community and step into the light of healing for both body and soul. As Christ rose from the darkness of death and despair, so may we rise to a new life of gratitude and renewed spiritual fervour.
Happy Easter to all! Mabuhay!
A special thank you to our hardworking
members ...and counting!
Join us! groups/pangyaos
CONVERSATION WITH RON
Why do we write?
When someone writes, they want to share their thoughts. The choice of the audience varies, however. For example, a writer may like to share what they write with everyone, a selected few, or even just with themselves.
When do we write?
Award-winning RTHK Pinoy Life presenter and Pangyao resident wordsmith Ron R. Lacson shares his thoughts
IN THIS ERA of the pandemic, the heightening political environment, the tension in Europe, and the ever-increasing concern about climate change, there has rarely been a time in the past when people have developed such a desire to write what they have on their minds. These days, almost everyone writes. Who could blame them? So Pangyaos, here’s a question – why do many folks write, even when it’s hard to write? My simple belief: it’s because they have something to share or wish to keep records of what they think. Written words are extensions of our thoughts. They serve as bridges in putting forth the sublime and the low; the funny and the lame; the exciting and the boring; the private and the public; the clean and the sordid. In other words – truths (or perceived truths) that entertain, hurt, inform, and teach. Written words have greater impact, as we become the words that we read; we become the heroes and heroines we imagine; we become the characters in the story and the teachers who inform. We not only become part of what we write, but we also take the form of its shape and rhythm for our amusement. Written words are the catalysts of change. 8
I value every minute of discovering an idea, a conflict, a joy, or an imagined riveting account, so I know that I need to put them in writing as soon as possible. And that is one reason why I created myself this motto:
A writer who delays the writing of his thoughts is like a man who makes a cup of hot tea after the water from the kettle cools down That’s not to say it’s an easy task; there were times those ideas and thoughts came like politicians promising long bridges and roads. And once you start to act like you want to write them on paper and record them, your thoughts and ideas will leave you like they never knew you, never to be found again – at least, until that moment you become inspired to look for them again.
Writing is powerful A piece (a story, song, poem, lecture, etc.) can be something as simple as a short, organised series of thoughts from an author; however, this could be a moving and lifechanging voice to a particular reader. But writing can be scary too, for an author may never really know the impact (positive or negative) that their piece may produce, be it on an individual or a group. Readers may interpret what the author has written based on their own experiences or their own agenda. This basic fact – an already accepted fact in the writing world – is not stopping many writers from writing what they have in their minds. The reverse is more genuine. Writers write because they want to produce impact; they want to share; they want to influence. No matter what window-dressing a writer puts in their piece, they want to tell people about it, as their words reveal a facet of who they are, that manifest their genius or their folly.
There is no pretence in writing We are what we write. The words we write depict what we think. The words we write may not be the regular words we use in our daily conversations, but they are the words that occupy our consciousness, and they matter to us. The piece we write may or may not survive the invading forces of future ideas or philosophies, but they represent who we are and serve as
the ambassadors of our wisdom at the time of writing. And our readers are the judges. Most of us are already writers in more ways than we imagine ourselves to be. A few examples: email, messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Twitter, Facebook... these are all vehicles we use these days to write. And even if we keep our faces stoic while writing, our words will still reveal what we feel. Because in writing: • we cannot control our inside smile; • we cannot fake our internal sadness; • and we cannot hide our deep excitement about the things we want to share. And because most writers articulate how they view the world and craft their piece as a tool to share their dreams and values, their success and failures, and their fears and visions, it follows that there is always hope in writing. We write not just because we can; we write because we hope, even via our scribbled words. We write because it is part of us. We write to communicate, and – whether we like it or not – what we write discloses certain aspects of ourselves. We transform our ideas into written words and express our feelings through penned sentences.
What about you? Why do you write? If you have an answer to this, write to me. Send your reply to email@example.com
More from Ron... Ron’s book, ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ is available in the Philippines at all mega-branches of National Book Store (NBS), or scan the QR code for the Amazon Kindle version!
In collaboration with
Horizons Walang pamagat
By Edina Bueza (Horizons Junior Poet)
Isang gabi pagkatapos ng aking trabaho, Sumilip sa messenger tawag bigla nabungaran. Biglang napaisip kung pwede bang papasukin, Kasiyahan kaya nila hindi bigla mabinbin. Bahala na si batman sa gagawin, Maglalakas loob makisali sa iba mandin. Nguni’t laking tuwa pagbungad pa lamang, Masasayang ngiti nakahanda na sa harapan. Si ina at mga kapatid nagkakasayahan, Magagandang ngiti at pagbati kanila’ng ibinigay. Pagpasok pa lang habang sila’y naguumpukan. Nakisaya at nakigulo na bawa’t isa, nawala ang takot dahil nakangiti sila.
Ikaw parin ang tunay na magmamahal sa sarili mo Mga panahon na lumipas at oras na nag wakas. bawat tibok ng puso na punong puno ng pangako ay bigla nalang sumuko. Sarili ay hinanap sa bawat panahong lumipas. mga taong umiwas at iniwan mga salitang kanilang binigkas. na walang iwanan hanggang sa dulo ng walang hangan. Ngunit ikaw ay nagising, sa mga tanong na bakit? bakit ako iniwan? bakit ako sinaktan? akoy nag mahal lamang ng lubusan.
Pakiramdam ko’y matagal na kaming magkakakilala, Komportable sa isa’t isa lahat ay masaya. Oras hindi namalayan mabilis na lumipas, Ngiti at saya nadama habang magkakasama. Salamat sa masayang alaala ngayon gabi, Ngiti sa labi hindi’maikukubli. Sayang nadarama sa puso’t isip ngpasigla, Nagbigay ng bagong inspirasyon upang magpatuloy, Sa mga pangarap at adhikain magtatagumpay. Katuwang si ina na sadyang mapagmahal. Igagabay at babahaginan ng kanyang kaalaman. Salamat sa gabing puno ng kaalaman, Salamat sa Diyos sa inang mapagmahal.
By Aljen Dela Cruz (Horizons Junior Poet) Panahon ang nagpakita ng iyong tunay na halaga. sarili ay mahalin bago ang iba. Dahil mula noon hanggang ngaun, ikaw at ikaw parin ang tunay na mag mamahal sa sarili mo. dahil ang tunay na pagmamahal ay nasa kaibituran ng ating puso. Respeto, pagmamahal at pahalagahan ang sarili. dahil ang taong tunay na magmamahal sayo ay kayang tumbasan kung paano mo mahalin ang sarili mo. Huwag kang matakot kung nag-iisa ka, dahil sa mata ng diyos hindi ka nag-iisa. bawat pagsubok at sakit na iyong naranasan. ay isang aral na dapat mong pahalagahan. Dahil mula noon hanggang ngayon ikaw at ikaw parin ang tunay na magmamahal sa sarili mo.
A selection of poems from Chasing Horizons, the new book from Horizons founder Ody Munson
I’m a certified Voyager Whether it be north, east, west or south. Bees to my left, angels to my right. Good judgment is my compass.
Stepping into the shoes Of their momma I carry on With the gift Of comforting grace.
By Ody Munson
I traverse all roads I bump into different souls I listen to various theories All unique and extraordinary. If I stumble as I walk I’ll push myself up, stand tall. The universe conspires with my desires, With everything in its rightful place.
By Ody Munson It’s a Chinese word meaning friend, To connect especially with the latest trend, Developing talents, we also recommend, Don’t be shy, be yourself - no need to pretend. Sharing lots of things, Give, if you got the blessing, It makes you worth remembering, Makes this life worth living. There’s lots of fun for everyone, Everybody is welcome, Join us and have fun, Free magazines – hurry, grab one! From games that surely delight, If you win, you deserve the prize, Or if not, at least you get a new friend, A new connection that brings new light.
By Ody Munson
These little angels My Achilles’ heel. I shall watch them grow From babes to wise adults. One day my service will end I hope to be remembered The nanny whose great love Never surrendered.
Flapping its wings across the blue horizon Flying with the gentle breeze The dove has the wind’s gentle caress. When weary, it finds refuge in the cottony clouds. Will my bed of roses match its purpose? It explores, no need for permission. It is welcomed wholeheartedly. Upon arrival in its destination It is greeted with a warm breath. Learning new things in every sojourn A cage for yourself was never moulded. Follow the dancing moon. It’s time for a smooth flight to your nest. .
White Dove By Ody Munson
In collaboration with
Migrant Writers of Hong Kong Rainbow’s glistening at the horizon Pulsating the prophetic vision As it breath the undying covenant Oh, so enchanting, so poignant! Luna’s silhouetting the dark sky Melodious night breeze rises up high Gives rhythm to this melancholy mood Beseeching this life won’t get screwed As the tide rises and falls Kisses the pristine sand and crawls May this life’s journey makes impact Fulfill its purpose without distract In the restoration of our planet Of this blue earth we all inhabit Like the dove that has wisdom That gives elixir healing, not phantom May the virgin tropical forest The sanctuary of wild animal Be back to its former glory Humans awake, stop mountain quarry At the bottom of the divine sea Aquatic creatures are begging to thee Suffocated by litters everywhere Bring back the crystal water, show care At dawn, appears the elusive bluebird Reminding us that we are stewards Rebuking insolences burried in the soul Beaconing us to that one goal Conserve and protect the environment Do your role, be a living testament Make this world greener than before Create a trail for your kin to explore...
Leave a trail
By Maria Editha Garma-Respicio
In collaboration with
Domestic Workers Corner Photo credit: Bun So
Hong Kong By Jenieliza Martin
Kayo ang tunay na SUPER HERO! Photo credit: Sheryl Penaflor
Bansang uso ang terminate Alam kong marami sa atin ang relate Kaya sa amo wag makipagdebate Kung ayaw mong ika’y materminate Karamihan sa ati’y inaabuso Sobra-sobra ang oras sa trabaho Sa haba ng oras ng serbisyo makakarinig ka pa rin ng reklamo Pangarap sa pamilya ang dahilan Kaya tayo dito nakipagsapalaran Gaano man kahirap ang pinagdadaanan Tayo parin ay patuloy na lumalaban Oh sadya mang kay hirap Pero laban lng para sa pangarap Nahi²rapan man tayo sa ngayon Alam kong giginhawa din tayo pagdating ng panahon gaano man kahirap ng sitwasyon Ibulong lang natin ito sa panginoon Sapagkat siya lang ang tanging solusyon Sa anumang suliraning kinakaharap natin ngayon Kaya mga kakunyang ko Nais kong malaman niyo Na saludo akong lahat sa inyo Dahil sa katatagan At dedikasyon niyo Sa inyong mga trabaho
Holiday By Reynalyn Molina Vergara Walang kasing saya, ang araw ng pahinga. Pamilya ay makakausap sa messenger na masaya. Lungkot at pagod napapawi Sa mga ngiti at halakhak nila ika’y bumabawi. Mahirap magtrbaho na malayo sa pamilya Para sa pangarap ika’y naniniwala Tibay ng loob ang iyong dala dala Gabay ng ating Dyos ang iyong sandata Mahirap ang pakikibaka May among mabait at balahura Pero wag mawalan ng pag asa Dahil bawat isa ay may oras para guminhawa. Taimtim nating ipanalangin Oh! Amang lumikha sana ay dinggin pandemyang ating hinaharap Sana ay huwag lalong lumaganap. Gayon pa man, maraming Salamat Ama dahil hindi mo pinabayaan, Kalusugan ng aming pamilya. Balang araw makakauwi ng masaya at makakapiling Ang ating pamilya na walang kasing saya lalo ang ating mga supling. 13
Coping with stress and anxiety during a virus outbreak
By Camille Bethoux, Uplifters Head of Programs and Mental Health First Aider
The current Covid-19 outbreak has had dire consequences in Hong Kong, leaving many in the Migrant Domestic Worker community feeling stressed and anxious. While you can’t control the pandemic, you can take care of your mental health – check in on others IT’S BEEN A challenging few weeks in Hong Kong, with Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) and other vulnerable groups hit particularly hard.
Show self-compassion, be kind to yourself. We have a tendency of judging ourselves harshly - Guleed Dualeh, IFRC
On top of an already stressful situation – including heavier workloads (due to employers staying home more), job uncertainty (employer relocations, visa renewals, travel bans, etc.), and increased financial burdens (from affected families back home) – there have been many cases of domestic workers facing wrongful termination of their employment contracts after testing positive for COVID-19. Many have struggled to access adequate healthcare and quarantine facilities, with some having to resort to sleeping in shelters, or worse still, on the streets. With the constantly changing situation and incomplete information available about the virus, the level of uncertainty has never been so high.
Our human brains hate uncertainty Being stressed by all this uncertainty is normal. Clinical psychologist Dr Sharmeen Shroff explains how, as humans, we are wired to feel safe and in control: “This inability to tolerate uncertainty is one of the central features of anxiety disorders – uncertainty is difficult for us as humans to tolerate”. Many report that awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test is the most anxiety provoking; not only can we not control the result, but we 14
Uncertainty is difficult for us as humans to tolerate - Dr Sharmeen Shroff, clinical psychologist
are also unsure of the next steps if we test positive. This is especially true for MDWs living with their employers or in crowded boarding houses, as the city faces a shortage of quarantine space. To better cope with this feeling of helplessness, experts advise to focus your time and attention on things that you can control, in order to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Recognise stress and anxiety, in you and others Generally, stress is a response to an external factor and subsides once the situation has been resolved. Anxiety, on the other hand, is defined by persistent, excessive worries that don’t go away even in the absence of a stressor. Its origin is internal. Common symptoms they share are irritability, anger, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping, but stress and anxiety can take various forms and differ from one person to another. That’s why it is very important to know yourself well and to be surrounded with trustworthy people who can also help you recognise signs of distress. Consider that you too can help your friends monitor their own mental health. It is important to acknowledge your feelings to better cope with the situation.
Top tip: stop struggling and show yourself self-compassion Expressing our emotions helps release the energy we often suppress inside us. Struggling against anxiety and stress will only make these emotions feel stronger. One easy way to express our emotions is to name them; it’s a key step and a great skill to have. Telling others how you feel will help them support you; most importantly, once an emotion is understood and named, it can help you take the right action. Try the 5-step process below.
Top tip: stop struggling and show yourself self-compassion There are many ways you can take care of your mental health. Start with small adjustments – they can have a huge impact on your well-being! Sleep, move and eat well: Try to live a healthy life. When we’re tired, we easily become hypersensitive; we overreact to everything that we’re presented with (a lot these days!) Practise mindful breathing: Try to step away for from your work for a couple of minutes a few times a day, just to breathe and focus on your breathing. Focus on monotasking: When you can, assign blocks of time to focus on specific tasks, rather than multitasking Cultivate compassion: Be kind to yourself and others; this increases happiness and reduces stress. Remember, it’s okay not to be okay! Keep a healthy routine: Routine helps a lot! Be it gentle yoga moves in the morning, or phone calls with your loved ones in the evening Limit social media: Keep yourself updated but do not spend too much time on social media. Try to stick with one trusted news outlet Connect with friends: Make use of your community to keep social connection. Ask for help if needed and show support. We’re all in this together!
There is light in the bamboo forest Let’s learn from each other how to cope and bend like bamboo, our own way but together.
Looking for more information on mental health? Scan the QR code for a list of related resources from MindHK, a quarantine wellness kit from HKU, and lots more! 15
Photo by Gaia Guatri
The spirit of community Before restrictions effectively put public gatherings on hold, Gaia Guatri visited Victoria Park to explore the blooming solidarity of the Indonesian domestic worker community Every Sunday, a warming atmosphere spreads out across Victoria Park – a rare green spot in the centre of Hong Kong – with groups of domestic workers gathering to spend their weekly day off, and celebrate life in its myriad forms. Bulan Hidayat, a 27-year-old Indonesian domestic worker (pictured above), gently moves her body in a traditional dance, full of beauty and mystery. She dances in the middle of a circle, surrounded by spectators in masks holding up their phones, hypnotised by her smooth moves. Hidayat’s dance communicates a sense of hope and restrictedness, a mix of conflicting emotions that many domestic workers have experienced during the pandemic in Hong Kong. 16
“Dancing for me is a way to feel spiritually connected with my community,” says Hidayat after her performance, “and reminds me that before being a worker, I am a human.” Victoria Park has become a popular weekend haunt for the city’s Indonesian population, a place to get together and share their unique cultural heritage and gratitude for life. The Indonesian migrant worker community in Hong Kong entails a patchwork of ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities, coexisting respectfully and peacefully. Despite being often overlooked in Hong Kong society, migrant domestic workers are a key part of the city’s economic backbone, contributing both socially and culturally, enriching the identity of Hong Kong with their multiculturality and living experiences.
Dancing for me is a way to feel spiritually connected with my community, and reminds me that before being a worker, I am a human - Bulan Hidayat, Indonesian domestic worker
Community leaders organise a wide range of outdoor activities: from praying and celebrating, to makeup and sewing workshops, traditional performances, and even martial arts training. The dedication towards cultivating and sharing their skills is incredibly contagious, demonstrating an enthusiasm and willingness to share their diverse culture with the wider migrant community. “Since many domestic workers live away from their families, holding performances here [in Victoria Park] is crucial for us, as it enforces our sense of community and allows us to get to know new people”, says community organiser Siswati Yozie. Before COVID-19 restrictions took hold, her group Persaudaraan Setia Hati Terate Cabang Khusus Hong Kong (PSHT HK) regularly invited groups to join traditional dance performances, martial arts training, and fashion shows in the park. Even despite current limitations, PSHT HK continues to evolve and adapt, ensuring they are there to support the community however they can during these challenging times. Indeed, organising activities in Victoria Park also presents an opportunity for Indonesian domestic workers to encounter and engage
All photos by Gaia Guatri
For many, these gatherings on a Sunday provide an opportunity to develop new skills, and share their knowledge and passion with peers in a friendly, welcoming environment.
Top: Victoria Park in Causeway Bay is a popular meeting place for Indonesian domestic workers Middle: Dancers in traditional outfits, before COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings took effect Bottom: Siswati Yozie (right) from community group PSHT HK takes part in a combat training class
with different cultures and ethnic groups – in particular the Filipino population (the largest migrant group in Hong Kong) – creating a network of solidarity throughout the migrant community. Walking amongst groups enjoying their rest day, many sheltering from the sun in tents, a line of domestic workers in charming makeup and dressed in glamorous clothes stand in a crowded circle, eagerly awaiting the start a fashion competition. On the other side of the red carpet, the jury sit behind a table with an impressive spread of prizes, ready to decide the winners of 17
BLOGS the parade. “I made this dress by myself in the past four months, learning from my friends here in the park,” says Indah Aminah, after winning the first prize of the day. “Wearing it makes me proud, and modelling gives me a sense of freedom and happiness that I did not feel in the past months during the lockdown, as I could not go out of my employer’s apartment.” During lockdown, many domestic workers have not been not allowed to leave their employer’s homes on days off, making it harder to preserve their limited free time. Amongst the 30 domestic workers interviewed in Victoria Park, almost two thirds said they stayed in the house during the pandemic and worked on Sundays, due to their employers’ worries of catching the virus on the streets. However, their weekly day off is a fundamental right (employers are required by law to give a rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours), a pivotal opportunity to recharge mentally and physically, and for many, these weekly meet ups in Victoria Park play a critical part in that process.
I love to spend the day praying and singing together with my sisters. It gives me the energy to start a new week - Buana Suryani, Indonesian domestic worker Values-based community: Pre-COVID restrictions, a wide array or events and activities took place in the park every weekend
All photos by Gaia Guatri
“I choose to come here every Sunday and teach Pencak Silat, a traditional Indonesian martial art, because I want to teach other women combat techniques and improve my self-defence, within a community that I trust”, says Istiq Omah, a teacher from Pagar Nusa, an Indonesian Islamic organisation. Sundays in Victoria Park are a time for Indonesian domestic workers to express and empower themselves, a chance to engage with a unique values-based community where individuals feel a sense of belonging, sharing experiences that enrich their lives. Buana Suryani, a 35-year-old Indonesian domestic worker, sits in a circle with friends wearing yellow hijabs, reading the Koran, and playing percussion in a driving rhythm. “I love to spend the day praying and singing together with my sisters,” she says, “it gives me the energy to start a new week.” Holding the woman’s hand next to her, Suryani looks at the sky with a smile full of energy, while a chant of traditional prayers fills the air with a puzzling sense of melancholy and hope.
A taste of home
Pangyao co-founder Aileen Alonzo-Hayward shares her take on a Filipino classic
Method Ingredients • • • • • • • •
500g pork belly, cubed 4 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 medium onion, chopped 1 can of Coca-Cola 1/2 cup white vinegar 1/2 cup soy sauce 2 bay leaves 2 tbsp cooking oil (Aileen uses Canola oil, but any vegetable oil will do) • Black pepper and salt to taste • Pinch of dried basil (optional)
Sautè the garlic and onion in cooking oil until soft. Add a pinch of black pepper and salt, along with the bay leaves and dried basil flakes. Add the pork belly to the now fragrant mixture in the pan, sauté until slightly cooked. Pour in vinegar, soy sauce and 3/4 of the can Coke. Lightly stir the pot, cover slightly and bring to a gentle boil. Turn down the heat to medium, stirring the pot occasionally to avoid the pork sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook until meat is tender and caramelised. Serve over rice. Drink your remaining Coke with some rum. Cheers!
Photo by Aileen Alonzo-Hayward
Reminiscence By Rubilyn Bollion Cadao
In collaboration with Migrant Writers of Hong Kong EVERY ONE OF us has a story to tell; from the past, whether good or bad, a story that was unforgettable, memorable, or painful. I am Red, and this is my story. Let me share the memories of my childhood, memories I’m unable to forget, as the feelings still cling deep within my heart. I grew up in a very poor family, where the old saying, ‘Isang kahig, isang tuka’ really fits. If we were lucky, what we earned in day would be just enough to see us through, but most of the time, it was not even enough to feed our entire family. We were a big family – having eleven mouths to feed was too much for a struggling household. As the fourth child and the first-born daughter in the family, I have 3 older brothers, 5 younger sisters and 2 younger brothers, a total of eleven in all. Really
big, isn’t it? Well, yeah, of course. I know that. During my younger days, kids would tease us so much about that, especially given that my father’s name is Abraham. You got the connection, right? Yeah, yeah, I know, the father of all nations. Those kids from our neighbourhood would often stand on their rooftops, looking down on our trodden house while shouting, “Father Abraham has eleven children, eleven children has father Abraham!”, or that famous line, “Abracadabra!”. Or they would simply shout, “Abraham!”, as if they were just calling to their friend. Urgh! Those brats! I can’t even remember how many times I cursed their parents in my mind – why didn’t they teach their kids good manners and conduct? And that wasn’t even the worst of it; there were times when those kids would even throw stones into our house.
If I had to compare, it’s true to say many pigpens were better than our house. At least the pigpens had fine roofs, solid walls, and concrete floors
Our home stood near the foot of a mountain slope, where the soil would easily erode and slide whenever the heavy rains came. So, there were many times when our house was almost carried away, at the mercy of the water flooding down the mountain. If I had to compare, it’s true to say that many pigpens were better than our house; at least the pigpens had fine roofs, solid walls, and concrete floors. As for us, we slept under a roof with many holes, from which water would drop whenever the rain poured down. We slept on cold, old wood, covered with just a piece of cloth; huddled together under a thin, shared blanket, we would curl up and tremble through the night. We had no doors or windows – just pieces of cloth and rugs which served as walls, flapping whenever the strong winds blew. The ground we stepped on changed with the seasons; during rainy periods, it was wet and muddy, turning to dry and dusty when summer came. I can still remember a time, when I was about 9 or 10, when a typhoon hit our home and it nearly slid down the cliff. I was only young then, but the visions of that past are still so vivid – every now and then they still give me nightmares. My father was at the edge of the cliff under that raging storm, trying his best to make stone walls, to prevent our house from sliding down the slope. We watched in tears, with my mom carrying and hugging my little siblings in her arms, and my 8-year-old sister and I carrying our
school bags, packed with clothes and a carton of milk for our baby sister. At that time, I couldn’t control my hate towards my older brothers, for they’d always run away from home and were not around to help my father. To add to that, we never received any help from our relatives – instead, we received only mockery. To think, they even wanted to drive us away from our land and home. How hateful! One time, as my younger sisters were just passing around the neighbourhood from school, they overheard my relatives saying they wanted to drive away my father, even questioning whether we could finish our studies. Can you imagine that? In fact, my sisters finished their studies with flying colours – which I’m very thankful for – even if I couldn’t finish my own, as I was busy helping my parents raise my siblings. I remember telling my uncle back then that I wanted to become a field reporter or a teacher like my cousin – his daughter. But instead of encouragement, I got only discouragement. I was too young back then, but his words hurt me so much that I still carry them deep in my heart, even now that I’m old. But as they say, these moments push us forward, and make us strive harder. I may not have been able to fulfil my dreams, but seeing my sisters having a good life is enough. Seeing my parents enjoying a better life now is more than enough. And as for the past, although it sometimes brings back sad memories, those memories remain in my heart. They may be sad, but they’ve taught me so much about life.
...although it sometimes brings back sad memories, those memories remain in my heart. They may be sad, but they’ve taught me so much about life - Rubilyn Bollion Cadao 21
JUST LIKE PHYSICAL health, we all have mental health; both are fundamentally linked and influence each other. It is rightly stated that, “There is no health without mental health.” According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point during their lives. OkayMinds is a mental health awareness and education initiative to promote the significance of mental health in everyone’s lives, to encourage people to start looking at it as an integral part of their overall health.
There is no health without mental health To cope with mental stress and disorder situations, individuals need mental strength – also referred to as resiliency – characterised as the ability to successfully deal with adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress.
Over the past few years, Hong Kong has witnessed both socio-political and public health crises. Particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to protect ourselves from mental health adversities.
All of us possess a certain level of mental resiliency; however, through proper training and support, it is likewise a skill that can be further developed.
The results of a survey of 11,500 people, conducted by HKU between February and July 2020, found that:
OkayMinds conduct workshops and training courses which include Emotional First Aid, Stress Management, Emotional Regulation and Building Mental Resiliency.
Over 70% of those surveyed showed moderateto-high levels of depressive symptoms, such as feelings of worthlessness and recurrent thoughts about death Over 40 % displayed moderate-to-high levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, such as intrusive memories and persistent feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or shame 46% of PTSD and 50% of depression cases were 24 years old or younger Co-founders Ameesh Kumar (left) and Nimisha Vandan
Workshop content and activities are tailored towards the specific needs of participants, with courses catering to ethnic minorities, foreign domestic workers, students and workplace employees, children with special needs, senior citizens and more. OkayMinds is also an advocate of reducing the stigma and stereotypes around mental health, and putting an end to discrimination aimed at those who suffer from mental health conditions. The NGO offers a range of mental health training courses
#tattooedonmymind Photo competition winners
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#WorkingMumsHK 2022 Photo credit: Polaris Norton/ Novice
As part of our #WorkingMomsHK campaign this year, PathFinders is excited to work with renowned photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani! With her mother spending most of her growing years working as a Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW) in Hong Kong, Xyza Bacani is familiar with separation, and more importantly, passionate about deepening the connection of children and their MDW mothers as they live apart. As one of the collaborating projects with Xyza Bacani, PathFinders is organising a special competition. All MDWs and their children in their home countries are welcome to submit photographs or images of drawings/letters/poems - curated by Xyza Cruz Bacani.
About Xyza Bacani Xyza Cruz Bacani (b.1987) is a Filipina author and photographer based in Hong Kong and New York who uses her work to raise awareness about under-reported stories. Having worked as a second-generation domestic worker in Hong Kong for almost a decade, she is particularly interested in the intersection of labour migration and human rights. She is one of the Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellows in 2015, has exhibited worldwide, and won awards in photography. She is also the recipient of a resolution passed by the Philippines House of Representatives in her honour, HR No.1969. Xyza is one of the Asia 21 Young Leaders (Class of 2018), the WMA Commission grantee in 2017, a Pulitzer Center and an Open Society Moving Walls 2017 grantee. She is one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World 2015, 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016, and author of the book We Are Like Air. Xyza is represented by Christine Park Gallery (New York and Shanghai) and Redux Pictures USA.
More information will be announced on Mother’s Day on 8th May!
THE HONG KONG PROFILE
Rodelia M. Pedro Nifraz Rifraz meets interesting people who are shaping the world around them in Hong Kong. Featured on our cover, Rodelia M. Pedro is a migrant domestic worker and founder of Domestic Workers Corner, a help and support platform for the migrant community which has gone on to become one of the largest migrant support groups in Hong Kong
How did you end up in Hong Kong? I grew up in San Remigio, Antique, with my mother, father and 2 siblings. My father (now deceased) was a driver by profession, while my mother owned a small store. I originally moved to Hong Kong back in August 2002 – almost 20 years ago – with the goal of financially supporting my family back home in the Philippines. Most foreign domestic workers – myself included – come to a new land like Hong Kong leaving everything behind. I have been fortunate enough to work for employers who have been really supportive; however, during this period I have also been through some tough times, such as battling depression.
What inspired you to start Domestic Workers Corner? Like many, at first I struggled to find the emotional and psychological support I needed in Hong Kong; my only way out was through the use of social media. This led to a desire to help others that were going through similar life challenges. That was really the starting point – it was an organic move that led the formation of Domestic Workers Corner (DWC). Eventually, through helping others during my free time, I was able to regain my own confidence and strength. Sometimes, you can forget about your worries when you offer help to others in distress.
All photos provided by Domestic Workers Corner Far-reaching: Rodelia founded Domestic Workers Corner in 2017, after struggling to find the support she needed herself in her early days as a migrant worker in Hong Kong. Through her selfless hard work and perserverence, DWC has since become once of the city’s largest support groups – with over 123,000 members, its presence is felt throughout migrant community
What is the purpose of the platform? DWC is an online platform which offers help to those in need. The core objective is to keep members informed of their rights [as domestic workers], encouraging them to assert these when necessary. For those in need of further assistance, we refer them to the Philippine Consulate General or one of the many NGOs [supporting the migrant community]. I also use DWC as an outlet for sharing important events, news, information, and tips relevant to domestic workers, with the aim of improving their quality of life. Today, our Facebook group alone (DWCornerHK) boasts more than 123,000 members.
What are some of the key challenges domestic workers face in Hong Kong? Mainly financial difficulties. Most domestic workers leave their families and come to Hong Kong hoping for financial freedom, a means to provide a better life for their loved ones back home.
Unfortunately once here, many find themselves facing financial pressures, such as getting trapped into a debt cycle with loan sharks. This leads to immense mental distress and even depression. The main reason for this is often a lack of knowledge and awareness – both in terms of financial literacy, but also in respect of knowing their own rights as an individual. It’s very important that we have a support system to guide and support our fellow domestic workers. I try to use my platform to bridge that gap. More recently, a lot of domestic workers have also faced significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, they have even been terminated and abandoned after testing positive. At times like these, we should all rally to help them, and to help each other.
What else are you involved in? I also work closely with a number of migrantfocused NGOs, to bring about positive change in the lives of foreign domestic workers in my capacity as an influencer, moderator and trainer. 27
THE HONG KONG PROFILE
Rodelia is an inspirational community leader, who dedicates her time and passion to support her fellow Migrant Domestic Workers.
Photo credit: RTHK
We are so proud of Rodelia, and all our incredible PathFinders Ambassadors!
- Catherine Gurtin, Pathfinders CEO Tell us more about your Spirit of Hong Kong Award I received the Lion Rock People’s Choice Award at the 2020 Spirit of Hong Kong awards. I was really moved by this recognition. [Rodelia was nominated for the award by Pathfinders, both for her work with DWC and as a Pathfinders Ambassador] The stated aim of The Spirit of Hong Kong Awards is to ‘celebrate the achievements of truly remarkable people who might otherwise be off the radar’ and ‘champion the selfless contributions of real people in our Hong Kong home’. I’m truly honored to be nominated amongst these heroes – it really encourages me to do more work for the community.
Any messages for your fellow domestic workers? It’s very important that you build a very good relationship with your employer. You have to talk to them about your challenges, needs and wants on a regular basis.
Photo credit: RTHK
In great spirits: Rodelia with Pathfinders CEO Catherine Gurtin (left) and her employer (right) at the Spirit of Hong Kong awards
Don’t keep things to yourself… Keep an open communication and try to be transparent. This simple step will solve a lot of issues – equally, they would also appreciate it.
How do you find the time to do all these things? That’s an interesting question. I think as long as you love something, you can always find the time. I’m also equally thankful to my current employer for all their support and encouragement, as I wouldn’t be able to achieve any of these things without their support.
What’s next for you? I don’t plan things. I simply go with the flow and always look for opportunities to help others. That’s my mantra!
The spring season plays host to numerous festivals and celebrations throughout Asia. Here’s a pick of a few of our favourites 1st April - 1st May
Ching Ming Festival
Being one of the Five Pillars of Islam, Ramadan is considered one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar, a time of prayer, contemplation, and self-reflection. During this period, Muslims observe fasting between two of their five daily prayers – Fajr at dawn and Maghrub at dusk. Fasting is considered to be an act of worship, which enables Muslims to feel closer to God and strengthen their spiritual health and selfdiscipline. The end of this month-long fasting period is marked by Eid al-Fitr.
Also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, Ching Ming – meaning ‘clean and bright’ in English – is a time for the Chinese to honour their ancestors and pay respects to the dead. The festival is traditionally observed in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, as well as by ethnic Chinese populations in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Customs and traditions include cleaning tombs of the deceased and the burning of offerings such as joss sticks and joss paper at the burial site.
FEATURE 13th - 15th April
Thailand’s most famous festival, Songkran is an important event in the Buddhist calendar, marking the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. It starts on April 13, Songkran Day, where processions of images of Buddha take place all around the country. A huge part of the celebrations revolve around water; crowds of people gather in the streets and throw water at each other using buckets, water pistols, hoses... even elephants get involved using their trunks!
Bisket Jatra marks the start of the new year according to the Bikram Sambat, the official Nepalese calendar. According to legend, the festival marks the death of serpents which had cursed a local princess. The most vivid festivities are held in Bhaktapur, 13km from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. The main event being a tug-of-war between the Thane (upper) and Kone (lower) part of town, whereby a chariot carrying a statue of Lord Bhairava is pulled in both directions by hundreds of people.
Sri Lankan New Year
Sinhalese New Year – known as Aluth Avurudu – and Tamil New Year – Puthandu – fall on the same day in April in Sri Lanka. Customs include cleaning the family home, the lighting of oil lamps and preparation of massive feasts; street parties see local youths taking part in a variety of games, such cart races, beauty contests, pole climbing competitions. Children also pay respects to their elders, who in turn bless them with gifts of money, considered the first financial transaction of the year.
Easter is a Christian festival in commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Easter Sunday is a culmination of the 40 days of Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday a represents a period of fasting, prayer, and repentance of sins. Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, is a day of mourning and reflection. In the Philippines, penitence (penitensya) is practiced by self-flagellation and crucifixions. These events often draw big crowds of devotees and tourists.
6th - 9th May
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the month-long fasting period of Ramadan (the name literally means ‘feast of breaking the fast’). It is celebrated for one to three days, depending on the country. Before perfoming the Eid prayer, Muslims take part in Zakat-ul-fitr, an obligatory act giving to the poor and needy in the form of food or money. Eid is celebrated around the world in different ways, but follow a common theme of feasting, celebration, worship and looking after the less fortunate.
Coinciding with the week of Buddha’s birthday in Hong Kong, Pak Tai Temple plays host to the Cheung Chau bun festival. Bustling with visitors and locals alike, celebrations include lion dances, colourful parades (in which participants dress as folkloric characters), and the festival’s main event, the bun scrambling competition. On the final day of the festival, contestants compete by climbing the 60-foot bamboo towers, collecting the sweet buns attached to the tower as they go.
Buddha’s birthday commemorates the birth of the Guatama Buddha, regarded as the founder of Buddhism. The festival is observed annually on the Sunday nearest to the full moon in May. Buddhists spend this sacred day at temples meditating, chanting prayers and offering alms to Buddhist monks. Special efforts are made to bring happiness to the less fortunate, such as the aged, the handicapped, and the sick. Some Buddhists will distribute gifts in the form of cash, or volunteer for charitable causes.
One of the most colourful and vibrant festivals in the Philippines, Pahiyas takes place in the town of Lucban, Quezon. It is a celebration to pay homage to the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro Labrador, for a bountiful harvest. In town, the streets and houses are decorated with Lucban’s best agricultural wares, such as vegetables, fruits, Lucban longganisa (Filipino pork sausage) and colorful kipings – traditional Filipino leaf-shaped wafers made from glutinous rice.
BLOGS How to be a mother or a father when you’re miles away from your kids? How do you take part in your child’s life if you choose to migrate? Does leaving your children behind make you an irresponsible parent? For an OFW parent like me, these were the questions I struggled to answer. Being a parent comes with huge responsibilities – we are the guide and the light for our kids. But for migrant workers, the role becomes even more challenging. We are often puzzled by our choices – did we make the right decision to leave? To migrate, to work away from our kids, away from our families? My name is Pia, a mother to three lovely kids. I was born in Manila but raised in Bicol. I was a product of a broken family; my parents separated when I was in second grade. Our mother left us, for reasons we may never know. Growing up, I always felt something was missing. Though our father tried his best to compensate for our mother’s absence, I still carried a sort of emptiness inside me. It is true that in every broken family, children tend to carry the burden through to adulthood. Today, all of my siblings have rebuilt their lives and raised their own families. I myself am also married with three kids. But why does my childhood still affect me? My mother’s decisions keep barging around in my head; why do I fear I might follow in her footsteps and make the same mistakes that she did?
A mother’s scar By Pia
We are often puzzled by our choices – did we make the right decision to leave? To migrate, to work away from our kids, away from our families? On June 22, 2018, I took a flight from Manila to Hong Kong. It was my first time to travel overseas – not for a vacation, but to start life as a domestic worker. I came to this decision because my husband was unable to financially support our growing family. I was totally unaware of what was waiting for me here in Hong Kong. I felt scared, but I was able to overcome that fear. I was one of those lucky migrant workers who landed a job with a very nice employer. I was so blessed that my employer was not just concerned about my future, but most importantly, about the future of my kids as well. That consoled me a lot. I decided to work abroad in the hope that I could meet all of my family’s needs, but why is it that sometimes I still feel I am not doing the right thing? Sometimes there are moments when I realise that I’m not doing my part as a mother. Why does the memory of my own mother leaving us behind, remind me of what I am doing to my own family now? Why do I feel that I’m letting my kids suffer, in the same way that I did all those years ago? As a mother, it is our role to light our children’s way, our responsibility to make sure they are walking the right path. But being an OFW, we can’t be a mother in the way that our children deserve. It’s hurting them, as much as it’s hurting us. It is tearing us apart, and breaking them in ways we
can’t imagine, or fully understand. We are their light, so when we are not around, they have to use a candle. It can guide them, but it doesn’t shine as brightly as the light that a mother can offer. But we have no choice. When we make the decision to become migrant workers, leaving our families is already a given. We have chosen this path, so we have to learn to suppress all of our self-doubt. We can’t be a parent in the way our children need us to be. For now, we can work towards our objectives. Focus on building our savings and becoming financially stable, so we can go back home for good. When planning our goals, we must set ourselves a time horizon for achieving them; we should be goal oriented, so we can still be part of our children’s lives, before they enter adulthood. Childhood is an integral part of a person’s life; as a parent, we have to impart our wisdom on them and teach the right lessons, so that in the future, they will become good parents too. As for me, the scar that my mother has left is still beneath my facade. I feel it more than ever since becoming a mother myself. Growing up, I never understood how a mother could leave her kids. And now I’m a mother as well, it’s even harder for me to justify what she did. Only time will tell when will this scar be healed. I am hoping soon. But how?
Read more blogs at pangyao.hk/blog 33
HELP & SUPPORT
Don’t suffer in silence The Zubin Foundation’s Ethnic Minority Well-being Centre offers free counselling services for ethnic minorities to talk to a professional about their struggles STUDIES HAVE SHOWN that stress levels, prevalence of anxiety, and symptoms of depression in the Hong Kong population have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented rise of cases in the past few months have further taken their toll on people’s mental health.
The Zubin Foundation’s Ethnic Minority Well-being Centre To support the mental health of ethnic minority communities in the city, The Zubin Foundation’s Ethnic Minority Well-being Centre offers free-of-charge counselling services to South Asian and Southeast Asian adults from low-income families. Counselling is provided by qualified counsellors who speak English, Hindi, Urdu and Nepali.
Understanding more about counselling – how can it help? Counselling is a unique opportunity to talk to a trained professional about any difficult
Counselling provides a safe space to explore your feelings, an opportunity to talk about anything without having to worry about being judged feelings that you might be experiencing. Counselling provides a safe space for you to explore your feelings, an opportunity to talk about anything without having to worry about being judged. Your counsellor will help you understand the situation and analyse your thoughts, emotions and behaviours, challenge any unhealthy patterns and help you find effective ways to handle various issues. Through the process, you are equipped with coping skills that help you deal with similar situations on your own in the future. All photos provided by The Zubin Foundation
Appropriate help at the right time will help to reduce the severity of the situation and your reaction to it Signs that you may need counselling: • • • • • • •
“Counselling is for them, not for me.”
• • •
There is much stigma around counselling. Some people think that others may say this about them if they seek counselling:
• • •
“Their condition must be very severe” “They are weak” “They are just seeking attention”
Feeling down or depressed Frequent crying or outbursts or anger Not able to enjoy the things you used to Lack of confidence or low self esteem Constantly worrying about certain things Feeling tense or anxious Excessive fear about a particular thing, such as being in public or closed places Fear of panicking or losing control Hand tremors Difficulty breathing or feeling of own heart beat, even without any physical exertion Feeling of being overwhelmed Irregular or disturbed sleep Feelings of worthlessness, thoughts of self-harm or suicide Abnormal eating patterns Increased consumption of alcohol or use of addictive substances
And so on. But actually, none of this is true. In fact, anyone may decide to go for counselling – it is simply a chance to talk to someone privately about your situation or your feelings.
The Zubin Foundation is a non-profit organisation that strives to improve the lives of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong by reducing suffering and providing opportunities.
You may be facing a major life issue or trauma, but likewise, you may also just be bothered by issues in your daily life, such as family or relationship conflicts, work, studies, etc.
Aside from counselling services, the Ethnic Minority Well-being Centre also offers free one-to-one check-up services and awareness talks to help ethnic minority individuals to understand their state of well-being.
You do not have to be suicidal or extremely depressed or anxious to seek help. In fact, appropriate help at the right time will help in reducing the severity of the situation and your reaction to it.
The Zubin Foundation also runs the Call Mira Helpline, Care Box giving campaign and other projects to support the ethnic minority community.
Please note: The Zubin Foundation does not provide services to migrant domestic workers due to limited resources; please refer to our important contacts section on page 47 for details of similar services catering to the migrant domestic worker community.
For more information on counselling services:
Free well-being check-up service:
zubinfoundation.org/wellbeing 9682 3100 @zubinfoundation 35
“BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, one of our biggest beach clean-ups was at Shek Pai Wan beach on Lamma Island; we had over 100 volunteers show up, and most of them were migrant domestic workers (MDWs)”, says James Marlow, the 29-year-old founder/ director of Green Hour. “MDWs are amazing, I admire their determination whenever we do our cleanups. Sometimes I need to stop and take a rest, while they just continue on. So much energy!”, he beams.
MDWs are amazing, I admire their determination whenever we do our clean-ups... So much energy! - James, Green Hour founder/director
What started as James’ New Year’s resolution back in 2018, Green Hour now has an army of over 2000 volunteers, of which around 300 are MDWs. Through more than 160 hours of beach clean-ups, recycle stations and plogs (a Swedish trend of picking up litter while jogging), James estimates they have picked up around 21 tonnes of garbage between them. The organisation’s main goals are to promote sustainable practices, fight climate change, and support grass roots society. Aside from the regular beach clean-ups, they also organise weekly Bun Runs – aimed at distributing surplus food items from bakeries around the city to those in need, at the same time reducing food waste. Green Hour has built a family of volunteers from all walks of life, and has been a great way for like-minded individuals to meet up
FORMING GOOD HABITS “You can always help by picking up rubbish when you’re out on hikes or at the beach. Start with easy stuff like not littering, bringing your own shopping bag or coffee cup” - James, Green Hour founder “I stopped buying things I don’t need. I save water and electricity by turning off lights or faucets when not in use” - Rusmidah, volunteer “Start at home by separating trash and taking recyclables to places like Green@Community centres, where items are properly separated and sent for recycling. Practice recycle and reuse” - Joan, volunteer
All images provided by Green Hour
Photo credit: SCMP
Above: Green Hour has a growing team of over 2000 passionate volunteers, dedicated to keeping Hong Kong’s beaches clean. Rusmidah (second from right) is an Indonesian domestic worker who volunteers for beach clean-ups on her days off, doing her bit to help the environment Left: James Marlow founded Green Hour in 2018, after setting himself a New Year’s resolution to raise awareness about Hong Kong’s plastic problem. An environmental activist, he is a strong believer that our individual actions and choices make a huge difference to the world we live in
You can start with the small things, small changes in your lifestyle - Sanday Chongo Kabange, Green Hour volunteer
It is the moral obligation of every human being to care and protect the environment - Joan, Green Hour volunteer
and do something together for the good of Hong Kong’s natural habitat. “It is good for the Earth,” says Joan Gazella from the Philippines, of her reasons for volunteering with the organisation. “It is the moral obligation of every human being to care and protect the environment.” This sentiment is echoed by Rusmidah, a domestic worker and volunteer from Indonesia, who learned about Green Hour from Facebook, “What inspired me to join is the dedication this community has for helping the environment”, she says. Sanday Chongo Kabange, a HK-Zambian who spends most of his free time 38
volunteering for various NGOs and charities, says he joined Green Hour because he tries to live an eco-conscious life, and wants to help nature in every way he can. His advice: “You can start with the small things, small changes in your lifestyle. Then your home, your community, then society. Change for the betterment of the environment requires everyone’s effort.” Scan the QR code to find out more about volunteering or donating
Aileen Asks... Equal Opportunities Commission Pangyao co-founder Aileen Alonzo-Hayward helps to answer readers’ questions about living and working in Hong Kong. In this issue, Aileen speaks to Devi Novianti, Equal Opportunities Officer at the Equal Opportunities Commission
Can employers hire domestic workers based on their race? ISSUES OF RACE in Hong Kong are governed by the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO), an anti-discrimination ordinance which prohibits discrimination, harassment, and vilification on the ground of a person’s race in prescribed areas of activities, including employment, education, provision of goods, services and/or facilities, etc. Under the RDO, employers of foreign migrant domestic workers (MDWs) are allowed to make hiring decisions based on their race. Racial harassment is any unwelcome conduct towards another person on the grounds of his or her race. Once hired, the RDO prohibits the employer and other household members (including family members and other MDWs) from engaging in unwelcome conduct on the grounds of a MDW’s race. Such examples may include (but are not limited to): an oral or a written statement containing derogatory remarks or insults; racial jokes, banter, ridicule or taunts; using offensive tone when communicating with people on the grounds that they belong to certain racial groups; selectively imposing excessive workload on people of certain racial groups; name calling; or unnecessarily picking on individuals from particular racial groups Such provisions in the RDO are applicable from the moment the employment contract takes effect, which may be the point at which the MDW enters Hong Kong (in cases where the MDW has to wait for their employment visa outside of Hong Kong), or when the approval to
work is issued by the Immigration Department (in cases where the MDW is not required to leave Hong Kong while awaiting visa approval from the Director of Immigration). It is worth noting that the RDO applies even when a MDW has to perform their duties outside Hong Kong for a short period of time, such as when the employer takes them along to work during an overseas holiday. The RDO gives the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) the function of eliminating such discrimination, harassment and vilification on the basis of race, as well as promoting equality and harmony amongst people of different races. By law, racial harassment cases may be considered regardless of whether the original intention was to harass. If the MDW feels offended or insulted by a certain act on the grounds of race, in circumstances where a reasonable person would have anticipated that the MDW would be offended, humiliated or intimidated, the act is considered racial harassment. In conclusion, while employers may choose the race of their MDWs before hiring, once the employment contract is signed, the RDO protects MDWs during the application process and employment.
eoc.org.hk firstname.lastname@example.org 2511 8211 (EOC hotline) 39
A splash creates a wave
By Aileen Alonzo-Hayward
“THE MOST CHALLENGING part was to overcome my fear of the water,” says Fely Dalauidao, one of the numerous migrant domestic workers (MDWs) who have signed up for a Splash course. Splash is Hong Kong’s only charity dedicated to providing swimming and water safety lessons to adults and youths from lowincome communities, at no charge. Like Fely, many students start out feeling anxious and afraid of the water. “There was a time that I was crying, I felt like quitting during the set,” she adds. “But once Coach Kat [Kat Nguyen – Splash Programme Manager and certified coach] told me, ‘it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop’, I was so proud that I turned that negative energy into positive energy.” Splash has a mix of volunteer and certified coaches who have taught thousands of MDWs and under-privileged children the fundamentals of water safety and how to feel comfortable in the water. Maricel Somera tells us, “I didn’t know how to swim or even float, and I have a fear of deep water, that’s why I was interested to join.” Starting out as a student, Maricel is one of Splash’s many success stories, progressing though their programme to subsequently become a volunteer Splash Captain herself, helping her fellow students to achieve their goals in the water. 40
Overcoming one’s trepidation for swimming is not easy; on the student’s part, it takes courage and determination, while on the coach’s, it requires patience and understanding. However, once students overcome their initial worries, the reward of learning how to swim is invaluable. Participants not only learn a skill that might save their lives one day, but also develop confidence in conquering their fears, as well as benefiting from enhanced mental and physical wellbeing (swimming offers many meditative qualities). They are also provided with the opportunity to become part of a motivating and supportive community. Like most Splashers – as their students are affectionately called – both Fely and Maricel heard about Splash through friends. “A friend told me about Splash,” says Fely, “it is a great opportunity for me and other domestic workers. The coaches are really nice and they really help us throughout the process.” Likewise, their classes are always very sociable events, with many new friendships having been forged in the water. Splash co-founders, CEO Libby Alexander and Chief Development Officer Simon Holliday, are driven by the belief that everyone should have the right to learn how All photos by Zach Berkenkotter
Face your fears. Fear is temporary. The fears we don’t face become our limits - Fely Dalauidao, volunteer Splash Captain to swim. Their concept is simple: connecting people who know how to swim with people who wish to learn. This straightforward formula has been the key to their success; founded in 2015, they have built up a vast network of professional coaches and trained volunteers, providing a wealth of opportunity for both migrant domestic workers and Hong Kong children from low-income families. But with swimming pools closed due to current COVID-19 restrictions, it has been a challenge keeping their Splashers active and fit. However, the organisation has continued to come up with new and creative ways to engage with their students during this period. “We made plans to provide dry land classes and upload informative videos online,” Libby tells us on a recent call. Maricel elaborates: “We do 30 minutes of dry land training over Zoom; body rotation, standing freestyle, core exercises, and other skills that could be translated into the water later.” At a time when physical and mental health is more important than ever, these sessions are not only designed to keep students motivated, but also offer a chance to socialise and engage with others, something with has been increasingly difficult for many MDWs who are asked by employers to stay home during rest days.
Millions of people in Asia can’t swim. Why? Often it is simply because they have never had the opportunity to learn, through school or otherwise. Even in adulthood, for many, swimming lessons are simply financially out of reach. However, lack of exposure to such an essential life skill can often manifest itself as deep fear or anxiety in the water. It is such fears that Splash aims to help their students overcome. For those wanting to learn how to swim but still feeling apprehensive, Fely offers these words of encouragement: “It’s okay to be scared, being scared means you’re about to do something really brave for yourself,” she says. “Face your fears. Fear is temporary. The fears we don’t face become our limits. Once you overcome that fear you will gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience. Just remember if it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. So push yourself to something beyond.” Splash adult programmes are funded by Fu Tak Iam Foundation, Macquarie Group Foundation, and many private donations.
splashfoundation splashfoundation.org 41
Sepotong Senja Pengobat Rindu untuk Anakku By Endang Dwi Ernawati
In collaboration with TCK Learning Centre for Migrant Workers DAG..DIG..DUG.. detak jantungku. Hari telah tiba, ya hari yang kutunggu-tunggu selama 2 tahun ini . Masa melepas rindu untuk keluarga kecilku, persiapan yang telah lama aku rencanakan. Pertama kali cuti, sengaja aku tepatkan kepulanganku di hari spesial pangeran kecilku. Ibu akan tepati janji, anakku! Ibu pulang merayakan ulang tahunmu yang ke-4 walaupun cuma 2 minggu. Sesampai di airport Hong Kong, aku bergegas check-in barang bawaanku. Aku pun lega – check-in, boarding pass dan paspor sudah beres dan akupun sudah berada di dalam gate ruang tunggu pesawat. Supaya tenang dan masih ada waktu, aku telpon suami dan anakku. Anakku yang menerima telpon kulihat senyum ceriamu terpancar jelas di layar handphoneku, ibu merasakan betapa senangnya hatimu, sampai lonjak-lonjak kulihat kamu begitu gembira. Ibu pulang.... ibuku pulang...(kudengar suara kecilnya). Tak lama kemudian, ada pengumuman untuk masuk pesawat. Aku minta do’a suami dan anakku, semoga selamat sampai Surabaya. Kurang lebih 5 jam perjalanan di udara akhirnya mendarat di Juanda Surabaya. Alhamdullillah akhirnya aku bertemu keluargaku. Akan tetapi, anakku tidak terlihat. Suamiku bilang Tule (panggilan sayang kami ke anak kami) tidak jadi ikut, dia takut mabuk kendaraan (sama 42
sepertiku mabuk kendaraan). Perjalanan 5 jam telah kutempuh dari Juanda ke desaku. Sesampai di rumah sudah subuh, kulihat kamu masih tertidur. Kudekap tubuhmu - tak lama kamu membuka mata. Ini ibu, sayang - mungkin seakan mimpi ya, seolah-olah tidak percaya ibu sudah di dekatmu setelah sekian lama kita tidak bertemu. Dari umurmu yang masih balita 1,5tahun, ibu pergi merantau dengan harapan bisa mengubah ekonomi yang di era ini sulit mendapatkan uang, karena gaji buruh suamiku pas-pasan untuk kebutuhan sehari-hari. Hari itu kamu juga melepaskan rindumu; kurasakan itu dan kami berpeluk erat, sedikit malu-malu terpancar di senyumanmu, anakku. Anakku saying, anakku cinta. Ulang tahun yang sederhana pun tiba, teman-teman dan sanak-saudaraku berkumpul ikut merayakan. Alhamdulillah berjalan sesuai harapan. Liburan di sekitar rumah di pantai Sine, Kebonrojo, makam Bung Karno, kampung coklat tidak terlewatkan. Senang rasanya bisa bersamamu! Kami menikmati waktu Bersama selama aku di rumah. 2 minggu terasa begitu singkat, waktu yang sekejap. Pagi itu, semua terlihat sibuk di dapur. Ada yang mencabuti bulu ayam, menggoreng bawang merah, kentang, tahu dan ada juga yang membuat jajan dll. untuk acara selamatan di rumahku. Tetangga,
sanak keluarga berkumpul bercanda ria memenuhi dapurku. Sekilas berlalu-lalang kulihat pangeran kecilku - dia bermain dengan teman sebayanya, sesekali ke dapur mencuri perhatianku. Kulihat senyum tulus ke arahku. Kubalas juga sembari memanggil nya “Tuleeeeee…”, dan disahut semua orang yang berada di dapur ikutan memanggil nya “Tuleeeeee…”. Ha ha ha haa kami terbahakbahak bersamaan. Aku rasakan waktu cepat sekali berlalu; lauk pauk, nasi, jajanan, sudah matang semua. Waktu sudah menjelang sore tinggal aku sendiri membersihkan peralatan dapur ditemani pangeran kecilku. Aku memulai bertanya ke anakku: Aku: Tule... Tule pintar sudah besar, kalau sekolah yang pintar, nggeh, ndak boleh nakal sama teman, nurut sama ibu bapak guru.. . Tuleku: enggeh, Bu… Temanku Azka, dia baik gak nakal kok… Tuleku: Ayah belum pulang kerja, Bu. Temanku pulang semua, aku sendirian (mimik wajahnya terlihat sedih) Aku: Bentar lagi paling ayah pulang, Le. Kita makan dulu ya, ibu suapi… Tuleku: enggeh, Bu... Dan aku pun mengambil makan dan menyuapi anakku. Tuleku: Bu… Aku: dalem, Tuleku… Tuleku: Di rumah temanku semua punya ibu, rumahku tok yang gak ada ibunya… Ayah: Ibu kan merawat simbah. Kalau ibu di rumah, simbahnya siapa yang merawat. Kan
kasihan simbahnya. Suamiku yang pulang dari kerja menyahut mencairkan suasana karena aku terbeku menahan tangis dan akupun mengangguk saja sambil menyuapi anakku. Aku: Sekolah yang pintar ya, nak - nurut sama ayah… Tuleku: Iya, Bu. Aku: Anak pintar! Kemudian aku beserta suami dan anakku ke kuburan mengirim do’a serta pamit ke almarhum ibu mertua dan leluhur - minta do’a restu supaya lancar perjalananku. Setelah itu kami pulang ke rumah. Tetangga, sanaksaudaraku kembali datang ke rumah. Acara selamatan akan di mulai; pertanda aku harus kembali. Ya Alloh, waktunya aku harus berpisah dengan anakku, dua minggu serasa kemarin sore - terlalu cepat berlalu. Setelah acara usai, semua mendo’akanku selamat sampai tujuan... Waktu menunjukkan jam 11 malam, aku pun pamit ke suami dan anakku.. Anakku ternyata tertidur di pangkuan bibiku, dan aku menggendongnya sebentar. Kuelus, kuciumi, kuusap usap rambut tipisnya, kubisikkan kata batinku… Anakku, Tuleku, sayangku… jaga dirimu baik-baik, sayang. Ibu bersamamu dan selalu menyatu di jiwamu. Aku pun berangkat untuk kembali bekerja. Rasa itu masih terukir jelas di mata... kutatap langit senja dan kulihat wajah lugunya. Anakku, walaupun kita terpisah oleh jarak, namun batin kita menyatu. Sepotong senja seakan mengobati rasa kangenku ingin kuberteriak: Tuleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.............!!!!!!!!
Going the distance Celebrating children and migrant domestic worker mothers
APRIL AND MAY are abuzz with important celebrations across Asia, though such occasions can be bittersweet for migrant workers in Hong Kong who are unable to be home to celebrate with their families. Many migrant workers are mothers. For mothers, not being able to see our children on these special days can be particularly tough. “It’s difficult to express how I’m feeling,” says Cik Haditiningsih, when asked about celebrating Ramadan away from her children, “[it’s] a mix of emotions: sad but happy too. I’m raising them from afar and I’m happy that they are independent and strong.” Hong Kong has opened its doors to migrant workers since 1974. For 47 years, many mothers have taken a leap of faith and made the difficult decision to be away from their children to create a brighter future for them. “I left my children to work as a migrant worker in Hong Kong when they were still toddlers,” Mulyani Yunus (Yani) shares.
A mix of emotions: sad but happy too. I’m raising them from afar and I’m happy that they are independent and strong - Cik Haditiningsih (on spending Ramadan away from her children)
Heart to heart connection
“As a mom who is away from their children, I need to find mental strength, including overcoming the pain/hurt of awareness that I should be by their side while they are growing. “I believe this is uneasy for most moms. The sense of responsibility and hope for their brighter future gives me energy. Whenever I felt tired and thought about giving up, thinking about their dreams helped me [with] living and working in this foreign country.” Long-distance parenting is not easy. What are simple plans mothers can put in place to raise our children successfully from afar, and build a bond that can go the distance?
The sense of responsibility and hope for [my children’s] brighter future gives me energy
- Mulyani Yunus (Yani)
1. Entrust our children with responsible guardians who share our values Caring, trustworthy and like-minded guardians in one’s home country play an important role in supporting mothers who work overseas. They provide nurturing care and guidance to our children. Selecting the right guardian will give mothers assurance and peace of mind that their children are in safe hands. Migrant domestic worker (MDW) Luzviminda Lupian tells us: “My niece, a school teacher, checks on my two teenage children everyday. She is very strict and makes sure they do
Mama, please don’t go away again - Niña Elisha (10 years old)
After working as a Migrant Domestic Worker in HK for 4 years, find out how PathFinders’ former Ambassador Elena Verzosa connects with her daughter Nina upon her recent return home to the Philippines.
Cik Haditiningsih with her children Razigh (now Luzviminda and her children RJ (now 22) and 10) and Erianthe (now 7) Bridget (now 17)
Yani (middle) and her daughters Lia (25) and Tika (23)
My niece, a school teacher, checks on my two teenage children everyday. She is very strict and makes sure they do their homework and complete their daily responsibilities - Luzviminda Lupian their homework and complete their daily responsibilities such as washing their clothes. “She also checks to make sure they don’t spend too much time on their mobile phones. If they don’t complete their tasks and spend too much time on the phones, she will take their phones for the day.”
2. Connect regularly and deeply Go beyond questions such as, “Have you eaten?” or “Have you done your homework?” on video calls. Be curious about your children’s lives: ask them who their close friends are, and invite them to share stories about what happened in school. “Parents working overseas have their own unique way of performing duties and responsibilities. Often, they hide the real situation to protect their children and show they are strong,” says Love Lee, another MDW working in HK. “I choose to be different. Apart from ensuring they have a comfortable life, I want them to realise that life overseas is not always as smooth as what they see on social media, or as happy as what is shown in my pictures. “I phone them whenever I feel tired, hungry, exhausted, or even during their bedtime, and tell them that their mom is still working. As a result, I have witnessed they are growing to be independent, contented and appreciative. They are grateful for the life
that we have instead of complaining. They never demand especially material things. Whenever they need something, they will ask first if we can afford it.
Often, [parents] hide the real situation to protect their children and show they are strong - Love Lee
Beyond their academic excellence, what makes me even proud is seeing them keep the values that I am trying to instil. Despite the distance, time and gap that separate us, I have my voice heard by my children, I have their respect. These are the values that I was carrying while growing up away from my parents.” Connection truly goes both ways. Many mothers don’t want to show our vulnerabilities to our children. As our children mature, try to engage in age-appropriate heart-to-heart conversations with them. Be open and honest about our challenges and feelings as a MDW. This can draw us closer to our children and strengthen their character. Today and everyday, we celebrate all migrant moms and their children – for your courage, strength, resilience, and your effort each day to connect, despite the distance. In collaboration with Pathfinders pathfinders.org.hk 45
KNOW YOUR PANGYAO In association with homelessness charity ImpactHK
Shop master at 1ofaKind 1ofaKind, Shop 8, G/F, Man Wai Building, 18 Man Wai Street, Jordan, Kowloon, HK A tall, gentle man, Will is the shop assistant in our buzzing sample store 1ofaKind – an initiative from homelessness charity ImpactHK – located in Jordan. Overseeing all retail and customer service duties, Will is loved by all our neighbours and has even become something of a local celebrity – during our interview, an old man passing by even grabbed him for a photo! Seeing the natural interaction between Will and our customers, it’s hard to believe he was once exceptionally reserved and quiet. Years ago, Will lost his job and started his journey on the streets. Being half-Malaysian and half-British, he found it more difficult to interact with others and withdrew, becoming increasingly isolated. As one of our earliest friends at ImpactHK, Will has progressed through our programmes step by step, culminating in him joining the 1ofaKind team as a store assistant. “I now have friends and responsibility”, he shares with a beaming smile. Asked about his about his plans for the future, Will pauses for a moment. “I am not gonna stay here forever, right?” he says, grinning, “Maybe going back to the UK, maybe New Zealand, maybe staying in HK… I don’t know where to go yet, but anyway, it’s moving forward!” 46
Try this on, we have more options here. You will look great in this outfit! 1ofaKind store offers brand new, high quality clothing and accessories (including designer brands!) at low prices. Pick up a bargain today, while doing your bit to help Hong Kong’s homeless community! Want to do more? Scan the QR code to donate or explore volunteering opportunities! impacthkcharity / 1ofaKINDhk impacthkcharity / 1ofakindhk impacthk.org / kindnessmattersshop.org ImpactHK
Crime & emergency services Emergency Hotline (Police, Fire, Ambulance) 999 Police Hotline 2527 7177
HK Government departments & agencies Hong Kong Immigration Department 2824 6111 Hong Kong Labour Department 2157 9537 Consumer Council 2929 2222
Consular services Consulate General of the Philippines in Hong Kong Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Hong Kong Royal Thai Consulate General in Hong Kong Consulate General of India, Hong Kong Consulate General of Pakistan, Hong Kong Consulate General of Nepal, Hong Kong
2823 8500 6345 9324 2866 0640 3651 0200 2521 6481 3970 9900 2827 0681 2369 7813
Non-Governmental Organisations International Social Service Hong Kong (ISS) 2834 6863 HELP for Domestic Workers 2523 4020 Pathfinders (Hotline for Migrant Workers) 5190 4886 Christian Action Centre for Migrant Domestic Workers 2382 3339 Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women (RainLily) 2375 5322 Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge 2721 3119 Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong (ATKI-HK) 9587 8317 Mission for Migrant Workers 2522 8264 Refugee Union 9828 7176 The Samaritans Hong Kong 2896 0000 Enrich HK 2386 5811 Uplifters 9731 9713 TCK Learning Centre for Migrant Workers 2510 0442 The Zubin Foundation 2540 9588 Equal Opportunities Commission (General Enquiry Hotline) 2511 8211 Equal Opportunities Commission (Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline) 2106 2222 Mind HK 3643 0869 ImpactHK 2448 0011
Other useful contacts Hong Kong International Airport Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Hotline MTR Lost Property Office
2181 8888 2508 1234 2861 0020 47