Did you know that Hong Kong is home to more than 340,000 foreign domestic workers? Majority of the domestic workers come from the Philippines and Indonesia, while a small percentage come from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Madagascar.

Many of these foreign domestic workers come to Hong Kong to find better job opportunities, so they can support their families in their home countries. Their jobs include tasks such as taking care of children and elderlies, managing households, driving, etc. However, many of them suffer from discrimination, forms of physical and verbal abuse, wage theft, debt bondage and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many of them who suffer from these problems are unable to escape and they are stuck in a constant cycle of abuse and exploitation.

For my CAS week, I am volunteering in an outreach programme called HELP For Domestic Workers. Founded in 1989 by a group of lawyers who worshipped in St. John’s Cathedral, the organization serves to empower domestic workers through assistance, advice, education and advocacy. Here at HELP For Domestic Workers, they provide free advice to helpers on how to solve their problems. Legal assistance is also given to those who aren’t exposed to the services of a private lawyer, which allows them to gain access to justice and equal treatment before the law. Since 1989, they have assisted more than 25,000 workers in distress.

I have been given the task to write an article about my thoughts on the organization as a student. To gather information for my article, I am shadowing the workers and volunteers in the organization. I’m being given an insight into the different ongoing case studies. Amongst the different case studies, I’ve been able to meet one of the domestic workers and talk to her about the challenges she is facing. Her case made me realize the unfairness and discrimination they face on a daily basis and how we take the domestic workers for granted.

Furthermore, I writing a letter to the immigration department regarding one of the case studies. Although most of the work is office based, I learning a lot about the problems domestic workers face and what the organization is doing to help them. It’s making me consider on my actions as a future employer, as well as my role as a student to raise awareness for this issue.

Julianne Tan