Not only is Alyson Hau a talented DJ and radio presenter, she is also a highly supportive and caring employer.
Sitting in a coffee shop in Olympian City alongside her longtime Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW) Agnes Miraflores, the care and affection that Alyson showed towards her was obvious and reciprocated.
Agnes came to work in Hong Kong 24 years ago, leaving her home on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Incredibly, she has cared for Paul, Alyson’s husband, since he was a child and has watched him start his own family with Alyson; she now cares for Paul’s own children!
Having spent two generations working for Paul’s family, Agnes has an extremely special bond with them. When asked about what has motivated Agnes to work with them for so long, Agnes cried when talking about Paul’s late father, her original employer, remembering the interminable compassion he showed towards her.
Agnes also has her own children, an eleven-year-old son and a ten-year-old daughter currently living in the Philippines. Agnes stated that the opportunities her work brings for her children has propelled her to keep working in Hong Kong. She shared “My children are my treasures and I always tell them that the sacrifices I make as an MDW are for them and their future. They understand this, even though sometimes it is hard because I am not by their side when they are achieving their goals.”
Like Agnes, Alyson is a working mother. When asked how Agnes has helped her to manage her career and domestic responsibilities, Alyson readily responded “in every single way!” Indeed, Agnes has been a constant and integral part of her and Paul’s lives even before they were engaged. Agnes even helped prepare the wedding engagement, something they will always remember fondly!
Alyson and Agnes both beamed as they described what started off as a cooking competition between the couple, turned into the basis of a proposal: unbeknownst to Alyson, Paul and Agnes had secretly worked together to prepare an intricate three-course dinner for the night. As Paul proposed, there stood Agnes in the corner of the room recording the precious moment!
Undoubtedly, both families provide invaluable support to the other. Alyson shared that Agnes’ experience as a working mother enables her to pass on her indispensable expertise and knowledge to Alyson, something she greatly appreciates as a mother of two young children. Often, they work together “to keep the home exciting” for both Agnes and the children whilst Alyson and her husband are not at home, planning activities that everyone will enjoy. The trust that Alyson places in Agnes is indisputable: she described feeling incredibly secure and confident in leaving the children with her.
When asked about some issues other working mothers may have with their MDWs, Alyson notes that ‘mother jealousy’ is quite common: “Often, the children spend a lot of time with the Aunties and therefore might prefer the Aunties comforting them to their moms.” In this way, Alyson emphasised the importance of viewing the MDW as “an extension of the family, not as a stranger”.
In particular, Alyson and Agnes excitedly shared their plans to bring Agnes’ two children to Hong Kong from the Philippines, a plan sadly delayed by the pandemic. They are delighted that their children will eventually meet and hopefully will form long-lasting friendships. When told that this is not a very common gesture made by employers, Alyson seemed surprised, noting that it felt like a natural thing to do.
During their annual family holidays, Alyson and Paul usually arrange for Agnes to go home to visit her children. However, this did not happen without its fair share of problems. Alyson and Agnes both laughed while recalling the time Agnes had a delayed return to Hong Kong, and the family checked in with her every day as they couldn’t wait for her to return!
To better support MDWs, Alyson believed that having good communication is key, particularly in order to understand and cater to the needs of the MDW. She mentioned that many MDWs have been struggling during the pandemic, and so being open to providing some extra support can go a long way to make MDWs like Agnes feel less isolated while being apart from her own children.
The empathy and mutual support that Agnes and Alyson show towards each other through their roles as working mothers, is a true encapsulation of PathFinders’ #WorkingMomsHK campaign as well as our values of collaboration and respect. By caring and working for all of their children, they are an excellent example of PathFinders’ vision “for all children to receive a fair start in life.”