Kenneth Lee was an Access to Justice (A2J) summer intern who has interned at PathFinders twice. He is in his second year of his Juris Doctor degree at the University of Hong Kong. Thank you Kenneth for working with the team again and for all your hard work and enthusiasm!
What have you learned from this internship?
I once overheard someone saying that it was difficult to describe what PathFinders does in a nutshell. And it’s true. PathFinders’ clients can be in extraordinarily complicated matrimonial, employment, and immigration situations. But that is a reminder that when migrant domestic workers come to Hong Kong and become indispensable pillars of care for tens of thousands of households in this city, they are not merely workers.
During my internship, it was heartwarming to see so many people in Hong Kong advocating for the wellbeing of children born here to migrant mothers. Like every other child born here, these babies deserve to have an identity and access to healthcare, education, and opportunity.
What activities have you been participating in?
During my time at PathFinders, I drafted documents and legal research notes for the Access to Justice team. The process made me realize the various flaws Hong Kong law and policy has with regards to employment, immigration, and children. I shadowed weekly meetings with case managers, where I got a sense of how they worked with clients and what were the recurring issues that clients would face.
Furthermore, I assisted with PathFinders’ public consultation initiatives at LegCo, attended a press conference on a report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Hong Kong and China, and drafted talking points for a conference hosted by the Equal Opportunities Commission.
I was also put on the spot many times when I called government agencies such as the Hospital Authority and the Labour Department to follow up on the progress of inquiries and documents for clients. At times I got to accompany clients to the Immigration Department to offer emotional support. This provided me an opportunity to chat, know the clients better on a personal level, and to experience first-hand the difficulties they encounter and the worries they face when interacting with government agencies.
The most memorable task I did was helping case managers assemble racks and organize baby boxes and clothes! It certainly increased a huge amount of floor space in the PathFinders’ office and I hope it helps our clients more easily access the supplies they need!
Having interned at PathFinders twice now, what kind of change in society do you hope for?
Aging demographics and dual working households mean that the number of people on foreign domestic helper visas is expected to rise to 600,000 in the next thirty years. Hong Kong should carefully consider how best to ensure that these workers are properly treated and protected.
And while NGOs like PathFinders and compassionate Hongkongers do their best to be a stopgap for now, the Hong Kong government should work now to plug the existing social welfare and other gaps experienced by this ultra-vulnerable population of babies, children and women in our city before the numbers become overwhelming.