Say hi to Meryviel Daleon in our very first “Ambassador Takeover”! Meryviel is from Davao City in the Philippines and she has been a PathFinders’ Ambassador ever since our inaugural Train the Trainers Programme in 2019. As PathFinders’ Ambassador, Meryviel actively speaks at various workshops to raise awareness about maternity rights and protections to her fellow Migrant Domestic Workers. Through outreach, Meryviel can put her public speaking skills into action because she aspires to be a teacher when she returns to the Philippines.
1. What is your name and the name(s) of the organizations you are part of?
I am Meryviel Daleon. I am an Ambassador of PathFinders, Mission for Ethnic Minorities’ Sexual Health, which is a part of AIDS Concern, and Equal Opportunities Commission.
2. Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I have been in HK for more than five years. During my day-off, I usually stay in the library if it is open and study. If not, I attend workshops, volunteer, or go to church. I go to the library because I am currently taking an online course in AMA University in the Philippines for a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education (BSEd). Even though Bachelor of Science in Nursing was my first choice, education is my second choice. During high school, I was the friend who helped my classmates with their assignments. I hope to pursue teaching in the Philippines when I go back. At first, it was difficult to balance my studies while working, but now it is manageable because I can decide how many subjects I want to enroll. I really want to finish my studies—that is the reason why I came to Hong Kong to earn money. I am now in my second year and I will graduate from my studies in three to four years from now.
3. When did you join our Ambassador team?
I am part of the first Train the Trainers batch, so I joined the Ambassador team in August last year. I actually found out about PathFinders through attending a joint event that they conducted with Equal Opportunity Commission about pregnancy discrimination and labour protection.
4. What inspired you to become a Pathfinders Ambassador?
This is actually my second time working in Hong Kong as a migrant worker. My first time was in 2009, but I experienced some unfortunate times: I stayed with my employer for three months but then I left and went to the police for help because I was emotionally and physically tortured. That is why I really wanted to involve myself in community service—to help educate our rights as migrant workers. In the Philippines, I like to volunteer and be active in my community. Now in Hong Kong, I want to encourage those who do not have the courage to speak up for themselves. I want to help them fight for their rights, especially now I know that there are a lot of migrant workers who are pregnant and don’t know what to do. I have already met many pregnant migrant workers who just left their employers’ homes, so I really want to help them fight for the rights to speak up because of my personal experience. There are a lot of organizations that can help migrant workers. When I came to Hong Kong the first time, I didn’t know that there was an Overseas Workers Association and the Philippines Labour Office in Hong Kong. When my employer abused me, I went to the police because I read my employment contract and the Employment Ordinance so I knew what to do when my boss treated me unfairly.
5. What did you learn from the Train the Trainers Programme?
I learned more about maternity rights and our general rights as migrant workers. I also learned that PathFinders has many services they can offer to those who are pregnant, like basic prenatal and postnatal care.
6. What kind of support and resource does PathFinders provide you?
PathFinders is very supportive whenever I do outreach. When I was one of the administrators of the migrant workers’ Facebook group Domestic Workers Corner (DWC) and I would receive messages from domestic workers who have pregnancy-related issues, I will refer them to PathFinders and Equal Opportunities Commission. PathFinders is very responsive and approachable to any of the pregnant migrant workers I refer them to.
7. What type of outreach have you engaged in the past few months? Have you encountered any difficulties during any outreach?
I am the administrator of a Facebook page called “Pregnancy Discrimination Awareness” and “Dare to Care” where I post helpful information related to pregnancy and maternity rights. This year, I spoke at Enrich’s Lunch and Learn workshop with PathFinders about maternity rights and protection to other migrant workers. Last year, I also spoke at a talk for migrant workers with PathFinders in Hang Hau. I like public speaking because it helps me develop my self-confidence, especially since I want to teach in the future. The greatest difficulty I encounter is when people will ignore us. Sometimes, migrant workers won’t listen sometimes because they think that I am selling things to them. Even though this still happens to make quite a lot, I’ve done outreach many times before so I am familiar with how to deal with this situation.
8. What is your aspiration?
One of my aspirations is to finish my studies. I also dream to go back to the Philippines to personally take care of my three children, they are seven-, twelve-, and thirteen-years old. They were still young when I came to Hong Kong for work so I really want to finish my studies, then return and have a stable job in the Philippines. It is very different to take care of your own children.
9. Do you have any advice for fellow migrant workers?
The very first thing I want to advise migrant workers is to read the Employment Ordinance and their employment contract in Hong Kong. Right after you land in Hong Kong, migrant workers will receive a booklet, which includes the employment ordinance that is written in Tagalog. All the information is written there. I met many workers here who don’t know about their rights, even though they’ve been here for a long time. It is important to educate them about it. If you just spare time to read it, then you will know how to defend yourself, even if you don’t go through any training or workshops, like which department or which NGO to go to for help. Just what I did before when I first came to Hong Kong, I didn’t know what organizations there were but I was able to protect myself just by reading the Employment Ordinance.