At PathFinders, we’d like to send a big THANK YOU to our donors and partners for supporting our vision and mission of every child in HK receiving a fair start in life! We’re looking forward to all the ways we can do even more for the children and women we serve in the year of the rat!! We wish all families a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!
In this new year, PathFinders will continue to strengthen collaborative work with ALL stakeholders – FDWs, employers, employment agencies, policy-makers, academics, the community, mass media and other partners. To see the number of children and women falling into crisis decrease, we need to increasingly focus on prevention by raising further awareness, providing education and offering practical guidance to both FDWs and employers. Below is a highlight of the THREE NEW PROJECTS we are focusing on this year.
Train the Trainers for Foreign Domestic Workers
After more than a decade of meeting the needs of mothers, babies and children in crisis, we are increasing our focus on trying to prevent the root-causes of crisis. We are continuing to deliver education to the FDW community with our key strategic partners – like the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Indonesian Consulate and Philippines Consulate.
In addition, to establish a sustainable community outreach model that is led and delivered by FDWs for FDWs, we are empowering FDW community leaders through our Train the Trainers workshops with knowledge, information and skills training to expand our outreach, amplify our messages and sign post our services.
Our Train the Trainers workshops empower and mobilise FDWs as trained Ambassadors to educate other FDWs about Maternity Protection and the importance of making well-informed life decisions whilst working in HK. Each Ambassador is provided with bespoke training to enable them to professionally deliver PathFinders’ messages with confidence, accurately, confidentially and in a way that is culture sensitive. Ambassadors are then mobilised with tailored materials to hold outreach events and workshops within the community, and required to regularly update their PathFinders Manager on sessions conducted, numbers of participants reached and to provide evaluation highlights. Collectively these new Ambassadors can reach wider and deeper than the PF team within the FDW community, helping us to scale our outreach.
Employer and Employment Agency Outreach
Although pivotal, employers and employment agencies have been relatively unreached by PathFinders over the past decade, as we primarily needed to focus on meeting the needs of those in crisis. Now, with Client Services well established and recognising a need to offer practical guidance to employers on how a FDW’s pregnancy should be successfully managed in the best interest of the child, we have launched a 3-Step Guide in partnership with Helpwise.
When a FDW’s pregnancy is discovered or announced, often an employer’s initial reaction is one of shock, betrayal and confusion. Their minds race with multiple questions and concerns. She came here to work, why did she get pregnant? My husband and I work full-time. Can she cope with caring for my young children when she is pregnant? How will we manage when she is on maternity leave? These are all very real concerns that without careful thought and planning can result in a FDW being terminated and ultimately her child falling into crisis.
Finding out their FDW is pregnant can create a unique challenge for employers. Both the FDW and their employer are likely experiencing an array of emotions about the future. It often takes a lot of bravery for a FDW to tell her employer she is pregnant. For those whose pregnancies were planned, it can be a joyous anticipation. But for many others, love scams and the lack of reproductive health knowledge can lead to a FDW’s unexpected pregnancy. When that happens, the FDW may share the employer’s feelings of confusion or anxiety. ‘My Helper is Pregnant’: 3-Step Guide For Employers, our practical step-by-step guide seeks to support employers through their emotions and onto a path that gives them, their helper, and their household the solutions they need.
Home Country Integration Programme
For many FDW mothers, returning home as a single, unemployed mother with a mixed-race child can be a daunting prospect. To avoid the fear and potential persecution of returning home, some choose to overstay – becoming a hidden part of our society with no access to public services. Others seek asylum to access very minimal social welfare support, but an uncertain future for themselves and their child.
Currently in Hong Kong there are hundreds of children born to former FDWs who are seeking asylum. Some of these children have been in HK for many years while they wait on the appeal process. This process is likely to speed up in the near future. With less than 1% of asylum cases being approved, these children, who have never visited their mother’s home country or speak their mother’s tongue, will, sooner or later, face deportation often with little notice.
To identify, support and assist the mothers and children who are swept up in this process and ensure they are physically and emotionally equipped to make their journey home with confidence, we are further expanding and strengthening our relationships with key strategic partners. We are collaborating with the UNHCR and multiple HK based NGO partners to identify and assist these mothers and their children while they remain in HK, and with the IOM and in-country NGO partners to provide assistance and services on their return home, such as temporary accommodation and family mediation.
To find out more, or to get involved in our existing and new projects, please get in touch at info@PathFinders.org.hk.
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.