To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are delighted to announce that we have been chosen as the charity beneficiary for Liza Avelino‘s next mountain climb! Liza is a domestic helper from the Philippines who shared her story and passion for climbing in The Helper Documentary and will be climbing the highest peak in Iran, a 5,671 metres volcano called Mt. Damavand, in July 2019.
Find out more about Liza (and her brutal training regime!) in this Q&A and please pledge your support and share your encouragement by donating here.
Thank you Liza for being an inspiration to so many and for dedicating your climb to our beneficiaries!
#IWD #climb #climbing #mountain #peak #beneficiary #helperdocumentary #FDW
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:
My name is Liza Avelino and I am 48 years old and originally from the Philippines. I arrived in Hong Kong in 1996 to work as a domestic worker. It was the first time I travelled outside of my country. Hong Kong in the 1990s was a prime destination for foreign domestic workers. It offered a better working environment and higher salary compared to other countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. I was one of the thousands of hopeful and brave people flocking to the city to earn a living to support families back home.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MOUNTAIN CLIMBING?
Hong Kong’s beautiful hiking trails motivated me to become a mountain climber. But it started a long time before I moved to Hong Kong. You see, growing up, I was so poor that I couldn’t finish secondary school. But I am a dreamer and I had big dreams. That dream was to travel the world and see places, people and cultures. When you’re ten years old and penniless, those dreams seem hopeless. But then it didn’t cost me anything, so I kept on dreaming.
I’m an avid reader and love to read anything I can get my hands on – old books, magazines, pieces of newspaper, etc. It was this habit which took me to the library one Sunday during my day off, after I started working in Hong Kong. In 2004, instead of sitting at the square doing nothing, the library soon became my shelter from the sun and rain. There I found a book – Discovering Hong Kong’s Cultural Heritage by Patricia Lim, which described self-guided walks of the WWII defense of Hong Kong.
On my next day off, I set out on one of the trails mentioned in the book that leads up to a hill overlooking the city, and the hiker in me was born. I have been hiking every weekend since, I joined a local hiking group and later became a volunteer hike leader. In 2010, I started to participate in the 100km HK Oxfam Trailwalker to challenge myself. During my vacations, I did short hiking trips to Mt Pulag, Mt Guiting Guiting, Mt Hibok Hibok, Mt Kanlaon and Mt Arayat in the Philippines, Mt Yarigatake in Japan, Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia, and Mt Hallasan in South Korea. Those short trips made me realise that I am living my childhood dreams.
With a boost in my confidence and a strong belief in myself, I figured I could do longer trips and higher altitudes. I summited Nepal’s Everest Base Camp and Island Peak Base Camp in 2015 and Everest Base Camp and Island Peak’s Crampon Point in 2016, summited Mt Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa in 2017, and summited Mt Dafeng and Mt Erfeng of the Siguniang Mountains in Sichuan, China in 2018. When I’m standing at the summit I feel a sense of freedom. It makes me feel closer to heaven, literally.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAINING REGIME FOR THE UPCOMING EXPEDITION TO IRAN?
I go for long, four-to-five-hour hikes over the hills carrying a 15kg backpack on the weekends. After I finish work, I walk up and down the staircase of our 21-storey residential building with a weighted backpack for one hour every other day. I also do a 45-minute bodyweight workout three times a week on weekdays. I join a one hour bodyweight workout hosted by Pherform at Tamar Park before going to dragon boat water training with my team every Sunday morning. It takes a lot of training, but it’s worth it to be able to reach the summit of a challenging mountain and see how far I’ve come in my life.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR OTHER FDW’s LOOKING INTO TAKING UP A HOBBY? OR TIPS FOR PEOPLE TAKING UP HIKING/ MOUNTAINEERING?
My advice to fellow domestic workers is to determine what hobbies and activities most interest you and don’t be shy to ask around and interact with people, or do some research over the internet. There are lots of online forums for hobbies. There are so many activities that are available in Hong Kong for FDW’s, there are team sports like Touch Rugby, Cricket, Trail running, Painting, Hiking, Volleyball, Swimming, and Dragonboating.
Mountain climbing can be an expensive but rewarding hobby. Start conditioning your physical fitness and try hiking on easy trails to gradually level up to more strenuous routes. You need stamina and a plan. Planning your climbing destination should be a priority. You can make it a goal by saving for it, cutting unnecessary spending, working overtime, and even trading your public holidays if necessary to earn extra money. Buy gear one piece at a time, put up a photo of your target mountain next to your bed, make it a screensaver on your phone and laptop to serve as photo motivator to remind you of your goal. Stay focused and work towards your climb. Then off you go and make it happen.
DO YOU PLAN TO CLIMB ANY OTHER PEAKS OVER THE COMING YEARS? WHICH?
I am always fascinated by Mt Everest. Two other mountains that I put on my list are the
‘7thousanders’ Mustagh Ata in China and Lenin Peak in Tajikistan. Although the time and resources it’s needed seems impossible to achieve right now, I am not giving up on my mountains. I am keeping the dream alive at the back of my heart, for now. Someday, I will be able to climb them.
Those are big dreams, and I know the challenges can sometimes kill the spirit, so to keep my hope alive, I also have a list of smaller peaks that is possible for me to realize. After Mt Damavand, I plan to climb Mt Kazbek in the Caucasus mountains of Georgia.
WHAT TRAITS DO YOU THINK ARE IMPORTANT WHEN CLIMBING MOUNTAINS?
For me it is important to have:
Patience- you need to give yourself time to learn and develop your skills
Discipline- having the self-control and the motivation to complete your task in realising your goal, it can also help you maintain focus when facing problems and obstacles, also it helps you keep calm and collected in dangerous and unexpected circumstances
Determination- this is extremely important to your success. If you don’t have the desire, or the drive to do something, then you simply won’t do it.
WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO DONATE FUNDS RAISED FOR YOUR CLIMB TO PATHFINDERS?
I have always been very supportive of organisations who help the less privileged groups in our society, especially women and children. I watched the film The Helper Documentary where PathFinders helped and assisted the helpless Nurul and her daughter in their terrible circumstances in Hong Kong.They helped her get back her dignity and find her way home to Indonesia. Without the PathFinders’ assistance, I don’t know what would happened to her or others in similar situations.
For that, I am thankful for everything PathFinders does to help vulnerable women and children in our society. I want PathFinders’ mission and vision to continue and I would like to contribute whatever I can to show my support to PathFinders advocacy.
Please come with me in spirit and support my journey to the roof of the Middle East by donating to PathFinders and together let us make a difference we want to see in the world.
This month we have partnered with Habitat for Humanity, an NGO that helps families build and improve places they call home, on their Women Build initiative. In celebration of International Women’s Day, Habitat for Humanity volunteers donated their time and skills to provide essential renovation services to the living spaces at our shelter for migrant mothers and their babies. Thank you Jo Hayes and the team at Habitat for Humanity!
Natasha Mather, our regular supplies donor, recently organised a Knitting For A Cause Campaign in collaboration with Yarn In The Works, collecting knitted baby items for PathFinders’ beneficiaries. The campaign is being led in conjunction with Kids4Kids as part of their Action for a Cause initiative. Knitting workshops will be held where both advanced and beginner knitters can make baby blankets which can be donated later in the year ahead of the colder months!
Thank you Natasha for all your support. Please support her campaign by visiting her instagram page – @knittingforacausehk
This short, touching video captures how PathFinders works with clients to ensure that their children are visible and afforded the respect, protection and fair treatment that every child born in Hong Kong deserves.
We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it!
We were excited to launch a series of client portraits at our 10-year anniversary fundraising dinner in Hong Kong on November 2nd. We worked with esteemed photographer Julia Broad to create an intimate, heartfelt and uplifting series of photographs showcasing the journey we embark on with our clients from when they first find out they’re pregnant to when their baby is born because #allchildrenmatter.
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!
We are always excited when developing a new community partnership. This month we are delighted to share news of our new partnership with KidsDressSmart (KDS), an online social enterprise selling high-quality second-hand children’s clothes to raise money for worthy causes.
Do you have new, nearly new or gently-used children’s clothes you no longer need? KDS is collecting and selling children’s clothes on PathFinders behalf to raise much-needed funds.
Either drop them off at PathFinders collection points, or schedule a pickup with KDS and select PathFinders as the beneficiary charity. Clothes should be for 0 to 10 years old, and designer or desirable brands. We hope you will share the KDS vision as we do!
KDS also allows you to sell your unwanted children’s clothes yourself and benefit local charities. KDS has committed to donate 10% of each sale to charity, and you can opt to increase this to 60% for a charity of your choice. Just make sure you select PathFinders!
PathFinders’ Annual Report is released!
2016 was PathFinders’ busiest year ever – we supported 900 new babies and women. We have now helped over 4,800 of Hong Kong’s most vulnerable people.
The babies’ mothers are typically current or former foreign domestic workers and almost 90% of their fathers are in Hong Kong.
We could not do our work without significant support. Thank you for all that you do to help Hong Kong’s most vulnerable babies and their migrant mothers.
The Macquarie Group Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Macquarie Group, has selected Kay McArdle, Chief Executive Officer of PathFinders, as the 2016 Hong Kong winner of the David Clarke Social Innovation Fellowship.
Ms McArdle proposed to understand and to benchmark established, innovative and proven organisations providing access to justice; to learn how most effectively to bridge the gap between the NGO and legal sectors; and to learn how to best leverage technology platforms without compromising client support or confidentiality.
She will receive a grant of $HK150,000, to fund a research trip that will allow her to observe best practice in a number of global cities, including Alabama, Bangkok, London, Melbourne, New York, Singapore and Sydney.
The access to justice gap for PathFinders’ clients is acute, as evidenced by our burgeoning access to justice and legal case loads. The Fellowship is a timely and very welcome development. It will enable us to benchmark world-class access to justice models, and to learn how best to bridge the gaps without needing to start from scratch. It is good for PathFinders’ clients and ultimately also good for Hong Kong,” said Ms McArdle.
Ben Way, Chair of the Macquarie Group Foundation Committee in Hong Kong, said: On behalf of the committee and our judges in Hong Kong, we are impressed with the high calibre of submissions received this year and I would like to commend all the organisations and individuals who submitted a great range of nominations.
â€œI personally congratulate PathFinders and Kay McArdle, as well as all our outstanding finalists for their commitment to continuing to develop innovative programs that address social needs and long-term community problems. We particularly liked Kay focus on collaborating with other organisations within Hong Kong.
The David Clarke Social Innovation Fellowship, established in 2012 in memory of the Macquarie Group Foundation founding Chairman, David Clarke AO, seeks to encourage individual social innovators to visit and research best practice innovation around the world. The Fellowship is presented biennially and since it was established, the Macquarie Group Foundation has awarded 10 David Clarke Social Innovation Fellowships to non-profit CEOs in Australia, Hong Kong the UK and selected cities in the US.
After receiving a record 1,900 applications from 110 countries around the world, Epic Foundation has selected us as one of their 10 new Epic Portfolio organizations!
PathFinders will be added to a list of now 30 organizations that are making a difference for children and youth around the World – and that donors can choose to support through Epic. We are thrilled to join Epic’s amazing community!
Read more here: http://bit.ly/2fGNaHe