Blog

Noah’s Ark with Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs Community Teamworks volunteers partnered with PathFinders for a day of fun at Noah’s Ark! Small groups of volunteers and beneficiaries, migrant mothers and their children, aged 0 to 3 years, set out to explore Noah’s Ark. Through this event, volunteers showed our beneficiaries a different side of Hong Kong, helped our beneficiaries to learn about different people, opportunities and culture, and brought fun and laughter to their lives!

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Confidence through Information

Maria worked in Hong Kong for seven years to support her widowed mother and younger sisters back in the Philippines. Having given up so much for her family, when she became pregnant she was elated that her dream of being a mother was about to come true. Her excitement is short-lived once her partner abandoned her and reality set in: her pregnancy may jeopardize her employment and means of supporting her family. Having heard about PathFinders from a friend Maria picks up the phone…A PathFinders caseworker meets with Maria soon after her call, providing emotional support and working through Maria’s options with her. PathFinders educates Maria about her maternity rights and discusses childcare plans for her unborn child. With PathFinders’ support and assistance, Maria gained the confidence to reach out to her employer to discuss her pregnancy. Maria’s employer granted her the maternity leave she was entitled and to Maria’s surprise, was willing to keep Maria as a domestic helper, even after her baby is born.With no family or support network here in Hong Kong, PathFinders helped Maria to arrange for her mother to come to Hong Kong during the final stages of her pregnancy. During the last weeks of her pregnancy and the first weeks after giving birth, Maria, emotionally and physically exhausted from being a new mother is grateful to have a loved one by her side. Maria and her mother stay at the PathFinders shelter and remain there after the baby is born through to the end of her maternity leave.With PathFinders helping with necessary documents and travel arrangements, Maria and her mother were able to return to the Philippines with the baby. Maria then returned to work for her employer.

Maria’s son remains in the Philippines, in the care of his loving grandmother and aunts.

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A Treacherous Path to Adoption

PINA, close to 20, was trapped in an abusive relationship when she discovered she was pregnant. Not sure how to care for the unborn child and scared of her boyfriend, Pina went into hiding and planned to give her unborn baby up for adoption. After giving birth and meeting her baby, whom she named Kira, for the first time Pina changed her mind. But the demands of motherhood were not what she expected and she was also about to run out of money. Her abusive boyfriend re-entered the picture and Pina’s life spiralled out of control. Baby Kira was neglected, left in the care of acquaintances, who called PathFinders a few days after Pina went missing…Baby Kira was seriously ill. PathFinders caseworkers found the baby living in poor sanitary conditions and showing signs of being neglected. The ladies caring for Baby Kira were undocumented workers who are scared to reach out to authorities or to bring the baby to the hospital.

PathFinders arranged for Baby Kira to receive medical care from a pro bono doctor and our caseworkers finally find Pina. She was bruised, beaten, and defeated. Crying, she told our caseworker, “I don’t know what to do.” PathFinders helped her to find shelter at a domestic violence shelter, Harmony House, and provided her with counselling and support.

After numerous counselling sessions, PathFinders helped Pina to gain a vision for her future. PathFinders supported Pina so that she could separate herself from her abusive boyfriend and worked with her to rebuild her life. Pina reclaimed guardianship of Baby Kira and decided to choose adoption for her. Working with partner agencies such as the Social Welfare Department and Mother’s Choice, the wheels were set in motion for Baby Kira to be adopted to permanent loving parents in Hong Kong.

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Celebrating Mandela Day

In celebration of Mandela Day, members from the Southern African Association of Hong Kong were inspired to make a difference in lives of migrant women through teaching them to sew.

Initiating their teaching through a ‘making it’ party where our beneficiaries learned to use sewing machines as they made simple and stylish over-the-shoulder bags, the members also arranged for Melanie from The Sewing Lounge to teach a series of ongoing classes focussing on basic machine sewing skills.

The objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to change the world for the better, and in doing so to create a global movement for good. Check out the events held on Nelson Mandela International Day 2012.

Check out pictures of the event on our facebook page.

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Desperate to Make Changes

Mira was barely able to survive with her two children, living in a rundown room in a New Territories village house when she came across a copy of the Indonesian newspaper, that her sister had given her. There she saw an advertisement for PathFinders.An overstayer for many years, with two unregistered Hong Kong born children and a partner who no longer provided financial support, she and her children were facing the threat of eviction and had no money for food. Mira had reached the end of her rope. She dialed the number for PathFinders and asked for help. A PathFinders caseworker went to see her the next day, bringing food and much needed emotional support. That day, Mira and her children were accompanied by PathFinders to surrender to the Immigration Department and become documented. ‘I was too afraid to do it on my own,’ said Mira through tears of relief because over not being imprisoned, which was her greatest fear.PathFinders invited Mira to live in their shelter, helped her apply for food aid from the Kwong Wah Hospital Charity, Food For All, and introduced her to a support network of women who had faced similar challenges in life. After several discussions with a PathFinders counsellor Mira began to feel that the changes she wanted to make in life were within reach. Her eldest daughter Ika, almost 6, blossomed as she devoured the books and drawing supplies she was given although nothing could compare to the delight in her eyes as she received her first princess outfit; a dream come true, so she wore it to bed that night.

After a long process involving multiple meetings, letters and discussions with the immigration department, the birth registry, the Indonesian Consulate and the hospital that Mira’s children were born at, PathFinders has obtained birth certificates for her children and travel documentation to return to Indonesia. Mira is planning to return home to work in her family’s business and her eldest daughter will finally be able to attend school.

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Radio Interview

Local Hong Kong celebrity Crystal Kwok interviews PathFinders on RTHK radio:

For our most recent interview on 8 March 2013 interview, please click here.

For our 26 January 2013 interview, please click here.

For our interview last year, 29 February 2012, please press play below:

Listen to Hong Kong Radio Interview