Christian Action, headed by Sai Kung’s Cheung-Ang Siew Mei, has joined a campaign to have the law on domestic helpers changed. Siew Mei said they want helpers to be able to live outside their place of employment and for the two-week rule that forces girls to leave Hong Kong after they’ve lost their jobs to be relaxed.
The campaign is headed by a human rights lawyer. Christian Action is backing the effort with statistics on abused domestic workers and case studies.
Siew Mei, a Ho Chung resident and singer at Resurrection Church, has led Christian Action for 23 years. It is one of the largest unsubvented charities in Hong Kong with 300 full-time and 200 part-time staff plus thousands of volunteers. CA looks after the poor and disadvantaged with an emphasis on displaced persons, helpers and migrants.
For abused or needy helpers CA offers two hostels with 24 beds, legal advice and training centres. Siew Mei said the charity helps about 1000 domestic workers a year in one way or another. The hostel beds are 80 per cent occupied. Cases range from a Philippine girl whose employer had burned her with an iron to two helpers with terminal cancer. “It’s a big blow for them to have to go back to the Philippines where they can’t afford medical care,” she said. CA has lobbied for them to stay and be treated here. In one of the cases Hong Kong’s care has been successful and the cancer has been stopped.
Christian Action has 3700 refugees and asylum seekers registered on its books. Many have fled wars in Africa and SE Asia. About 500 are actively supported each month at CA centres in Tsimshatsui, Jordan and Tuen Mun. CA provides therapists and psychologists, case workers to advise people in difficulty and training courses in English and vocational skills.
In Qinghai on the Tibetan plateau, the charity co-manages five children’s homes plus the province’s first hostel for disabled youngsters. It also builds winter homes for the poor — over 500 so far — rural clinics and schools as well as providing scholarships.
If you wish to support Siew Mei and her team in their admirable efforts, you can donate money or goods, which they can sell in three shops. www.christian-action.org.hk