Many of the migrant mothers we work with are rejected by their families and communities, and stand facing a marginalised and impoverished future when they return to their home country with a mixed-race child born out of wedlock. We work with our clients to encourage them to take charge of their lives by making positive, brave and wise decisions when they return home.
In early September, our team (Carmen Lam – Director of Community Education and Outreach, Medina Spears – Programme Officer, HCIP and Gellin Byatt – Programme Officer, Outreach) as well as Board Member Lara Fabregas, traveled to the Philippines for in the field research relating to the “Home Country Integration” programme we offer our clients.
In just five days the team visited 9 local NGOs and one ex-PathFinders client. In addition to engaging with the local community in the Philippines to raise awareness and provide home integration assistance for returnees, we also work to develop social, financial and emotional support mechanisms for returning migrant worker mothers and their children in the fragile first few months after returning to their home country. We want to encourage our beneficiaries to build their own lives, connecting with local resources and community partners, once they return to their home country.
The team returned from the productive trip with several new local NGO contacts including Haven for Women, Home for Girls and NORFIL Foundation and is excited about what the future holds regarding potential partnerships with these well-respected charities.
Please find a short video of the trip here.
Last month, PathFinders welcomed volunteers from PVH, one of the world’s largest apparel companies, to prepare maternity supply packs for the mothers and babies that PathFinders helps.
The afternoon started with a short video and introduction to PathFinders services, giving PVH employees a chance to learn about the problems PathFinders’ clients face.
After the presentation, it was time to start preparing the supply packs. These packs are essential for new mothers the first few weeks after giving birth. Volunteers were given a check list of supplies to include and were tasked with presenting the pack as a gift.
To complete the supply packs PVH volunteers wrote caring, supportive personal messages congratulating the new mothers and wishing them and their new babies well.
A huge thank you to all the PVH volunteers for their enthusiasm and skilled packing techniques – we could tell they brought their fashion retailing skills with them! Thanks to their efforts, 20 new mothers and their babies will now have everything they need in the crucial first few weeks after birth.
If you are interested in helping to provide and prepare baby supplies boxes or are looking to hold a similar initiative at your office or school, contact us at email@example.com to find out more.
Please also visit our new volunteer site here to find out how else you can help and sign up to one of our volunteer opportunities.
ABOUT THE FUNDRAISING & EVENTS TEAM
PathFinders’ Fundraising & Events (FR&E) team is responsible for managing donor relations, sourcing new funding and support for our services, and coordinating fundraising and CSR events. The FR&E team is seeking enthusiastic and pragmatic interns to work closely with the wider PathFinders team on various fundraising initiatives and events. This is a unique opportunity to experience non-profit management and gain significant exposure to frontline client programmes.
ROLE & RESPONSIBILITIES
● Research local and global corporates, foundations and other potential donor organisations, to identify new funding sources and partnerships
● Prepare funding applications, donor reports and fundraising communications materials, including slide decks, newsletters, social media and blog
● Support and coordinate fundraising, CSR and community events
● Provide administrative support to the FR&E team
● Support other PathFinders projects as needed
NECESSARY SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS
● A demonstrated interest in the social sector, philanthropy, NGOs, corporate social responsibility,
fundraising or events. Previous experience is desirable
● Able to work independently with limited supervision, and in a team environment
● Strong research, organisational and administrative skills
● Fluency in English, with excellent verbal and written communications skills
● Your own computer, with Microsoft Office (or compatible) suite
● Knowledge of Cantonese, Bahasa Indonesian and/or Tagalog would also be an advantage
● Design or graphic design skills would also be an advantage
● Be comfortable with, and committed to, operating within PathFinders’ core values:
non-judgmental, respectful, passionate, courageous, empathetic, discreet, collaborative; and
● Hold a HKID, valid visa or be eligible to apply for a working student or training visa. Students who are not permanent Hong Kong residents should refer to the conditions for taking up employment in Hong Kong. A breach of any condition will render them liable to prosecution and removal from Hong Kong under the Immigration Ordinance.
● This is a full or part time position, with a minimum commitment of 20 hours/week for 6 weeks
● Applicants should be willing to work flexible hours to accommodate events
● The internship will be based predominantly at PathFinders’ offices at Worldwide Centre, 123 Tung Chau Street, Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Travel within Hong Kong is expected for events and to attend various meetings
● This is an unpaid internship unless the applicant falls outside the exceptions in the Minimum Wage Ordinance. Reasonable travel expenses while on PathFinders’ business will be reimbursed
● Interested applicants should send a Letter of Interest, Curriculum Vitae and availability (dates) by email, with the subject “F&E Internship Application: [full name]”, addressed to Harriet Beavis, Development Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org
● Shortlisted candidates will be notified by email and invited for interview
● If you do not back from us within 4 weeks of submitting your application, please assume your application has been unsuccessful
PathFinders is a committed equal opportunities employer. PathFinders Limited is non-partisan and non-religious.
Many of our clients have had their employment illegally terminated when their employers find out they are pregnant. Our Access to Justice team assists on these types of cases to make sure the client is not discriminated against. For many, this involves suing the employer in court and that process is long and full of obstacles. For others, the employer might agree to rehire the client. This first half of the year, three of our clients have been reinstated as domestic workers shortly after their termination due to the intervention of the Access to Justice team.
For foreign domestic workers (FDWs), losing their job when they are pregnant doesn’t just mean losing their only, and often main, source of income for their family back in their home country. It also means they lose their employment visa and access to subsidized healthcare, meaning giving birth can cost up to around HK$100,000. They might also become homeless.
A FDW who has been terminated due to her pregnancy can bring wrongful dismissal and sex discrimination claims in the courts. However this process often takes months, or even years, and in the meantime, she has no income and no access to subsidized healthcare for the birth.
Reinstatement might not be suitable in all cases because it requires both the employer and FDW to agree to it. However, it could be pursued where the parties’ relationship was previously good or where there was some misunderstanding around the termination and the FDW’s rights.
The unique nature of an FDW’s job, being required to stay in her employer’s residence, means that rehiring an FDW is not always possible. Sometimes the relationship would have deteriorated to such an extent that reinstatement is no longer feasible.
But when it is, it means not only that the client stays employed and continues to receive her salary and maternity benefits, but also that she has access to subsidized healthcare in Hong Kong for her delivery — which is often the best result for the client in what can otherwise be a very desperate situation.
The Access to Justice team has a tricky job acting not only as advocate for the client to protect her interests, but also as conciliator to come up with an arrangement that is mutually acceptable to both the client and her employer. Our legally trained team members meet with both sides to explore whether reinstatement is feasible and if so, work out issues like where the worker will spend her maternity leave and where the baby will live.
When Janice,* a Filipino domestic worker, told her employer she was pregnant, she was forced to sign a resignation letter. Later, she went to a Pathfinders education session held at the Philippines Consulate. At that session, she met a member of our Social Welfare team who explained that what her employer had done was illegal.
PathFinders’ Social Welfare and Access to Justice teams worked together with Janice to have her reinstated.
Ideally reinstatement must be achieved in just two weeks. This is because the law in Hong Kong says that a foreign domestic worker is only allow to remain in Hong Kong for two weeks after the date of the termination of her employment.
While it is possible to request a reissuance of a new employment visa, the policy is opaque, and our experience is that the Immigration Department has a lot of discretion on whether or not to grant this.
Whilst the case handlers are tasked with a seemingly impossible task, it is heartening that we have had three successful reinstatement cases this year. Prior to that, there have only be two cases since Pathfinders was founded in 2008.
Moreover, a recent change in the law might mean that we see more cases like these going forward. From October, the Labour Tribunal can order compulsory reinstatement in the event of unlawful termination where the employee agrees to it and it is “reasonably practicable.” Whilst it remains to be seen whether it is practicable or sensible to follow the new Labour Tribunal route to reinstatement in FDW cases, the new law will hopefully help to add to the debate around issues of unlawful termination of pregnant FDWs and the practicality of the live-in rule during FDWs’ maternity leave.
Upon reinstatement, Janice took her maternity leave, initially in Hong Kong before giving birth. Thereafter we assisted the baby to stay three weeks at the hospital until her travel documents were issued as Janice’s employers did not allow the baby to stay in their residence. Thereafter the mother and her baby returned to the Philippines where Janice spent the rest of her maternity leave.
When Janice got back to Hong Kong after her maternity leave, she worked out the duration of her existing contract and has since begun work with a new employer. Today, both Janice and her baby are thriving.
*Names changed to protect privacy
Last Sunday, PathFinders hosted an outreach booth in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. This was part of Pesta Rakyat, a community event organised by the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia to commemorate the 73rd Anniversary of Indonesian Independence.
Despite the heat, over 500 women came along to speak with our team and learn more about PathFinders’ work. We also distributed information kits containing further educational materials for crisis prevention.
With the number of migrant women living and working in Hong Kong increasing on a daily basis, an important part of PathFinders’ work is to raise awareness about the rights of migrant workers and to ensure that all women know who they can turn to for help should they find themselves in need.
In an effort to reach out to all areas of the migrant community, PathFinders holds outreach events like this on multiple occasions throughout the year and in various locations around Hong Kong.
Thank you to the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia for inviting us to be a part of such a successful event, and to all the women who took the time to speak with us!
To provide for our clients’ basic needs, PathFinders holds bi-weekly supply collection events. Our clients, vulnerable women and their children, are invited to collect essential maternity and baby supplies, such as clothing, blankets, pushchairs, diapers, formula, and toiletries.
This year, PathFinders has been overwhelmed with your generous donations, and has so far distributed over 1,600kgs of supplies to almost 300 people in need!
Thank you to everyone who has donated and helped to coordinate these events.
If you are spring cleaning and would like to donate supplies, please email Nabina.Pun@pathfinders.org.hk for details.
Given the current hot weather, PathFinders is particularly in need of the following items;
- Maternity and baby (0-2 years) clothes suitable for summer
- Lightweight or sun-protective clothing (rompers, rashguards, board shorts, onesies etc)
- Lightweight summer shoes
- hats for babies and children
- Suncream suitable for children
- Lightweight electric fans (many of our clients do not have AC or fans)
In May 2018 , PathFinders was one of seven community organisations invited to host an educational booth at Hong Kong Academy’s Service Learning and Sustainability Fair. The event aims to introduce students to local NGOs and raise awareness of the social issues they are tackling.
Approximately 300 students aged 9 to 12 attended the fair. PathFinders taught students about children’s rights and some of the social issues children can face in Hong Kong. Students engaged in various activities to learn about the particular troubles faced by children born to migrant mothers, and the work PathFinders does to ensure every child has a fair start in life.
We are very grateful to Hong Kong Academy for having us, and to all their students for their creativity and curiosity at PathFinders’ booth!
Between February 2017 and February 2018 PathFinders’ Access to Health team has referred 38 children for screening by the Child Development Centre(CDC). Our Case workers flagged these children as those who potentially need additional developmental support. Of these 38 children, 5 have received follow-up care from the Child Development Centre in the form of an ‘Early Intervention Group’ which is held in both English and Cantonese. The group teaches crucial skills needed for learning and participation in school and social settings including:
Listening and responding
An individual teaching and therapeutic programme for each child
. Thank you, CDC for your ongoing support of PathFinders’ children.
Since May 2017 The Matilda International Hospital has partnered with PathFinders to help our pregnant clients who are not eligible for public healthcare to receive structural ultrasound scans and antenatal blood work. A healthy and well-managed pregnancy is the first step in ensuring a child’s well-being. We are so grateful to the Matilda Hospital for helping our babies get the best start in life.
This week, Rebecca and Gellin from our Community Outreach team had the pleasure of attending a screening of The Helper Documentary followed by a panel discussion on human rights, hosted by the Chinese International School (CIS).
CIS hosted the event for their students as part of the school’s Service Education Programme. Rebecca and Gillin sat alongside Mark Daly from Daly Ho & Associates, a law firm with expertise in human rights law. The speakers discussed the work PathFinders does with migrant women and their children and in particular their maternity rights and protections in Hong Kong.
This event is one example of the many initiatives PathFinders’ Community Outreach team supports in order to raise awareness of Foreign Domestic Workers’ rights among the general public.
A special thank you to Mala at CIS for the invitation to this event.