Date Posted: 30/12/2021
Pathfinder charity for pregnant helpers
People in Hong Kong lead hectic lives and rely heavily on domestic workers. But when the domestic helpers do get pregnant, they are often fired illegally. In most cases, employers do not know the rights of employees and, since they need someone to replace the helper during maternity leave, they do not hesitate to terminate the contract of the employee to hire a new helper.
The problem becomes serious for domestic workers and also for their future children. No income, no housing, no medical care, the list goes on. So when they get their contracts terminated due to a natural cause such as giving birth, they lose everything. When these helpers give birth to their children, they are undocumented, making them subject to trafficking. Many innocent lives have been lost. The downside of the law is that even if domestic workers bring their children to Hong Kong, a birth certificate attesting to the permanent residence of the newborn will not be issued. Only the mother's visa status will be displayed. But there is a charity called PathFinders that has helped these pregnant helpers and their children live with dignity.
What is the role of PathFinders Charity in all of this?
There are currently around 385,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong. Most of that number is made up of young women from economically backward countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Getting fired from their jobs destroys their world because, in most cases, the domestic helper's income might be the only income source of her family. When she is made redundant, her family in her native country suffers.
This is not the same in other areas where women benefit from maternity leave. But when it comes to a domestic helper, the scenario is difficult. Despite legal protections in Hong Kong (the right to paid maternity leave), many of these women are unlawfully dismissed once their pregnancy is announced or discovered. PathFinders works with migrant women and pregnant mothers to help them become self-reliant and plan for their future in the best interests of their children. They help beneficiaries access the available services that they may not be aware of. They also invest resources to fill critical health, care, and social services gaps and help beneficiaries return home and support reintegration.
Pregnancy is perhaps one of the happiest times in a woman's life, but that isn't always the case with foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Sometimes they are treated with contempt and cannot exercise their pregnancy rights. Taking a job puts your future at risk. In most cases, these helpers are subject to various forms of criticism and abuse due to pregnancy. When domestic workers are fired illegally, they are also deprived of all the benefits, including health care that they have received due to their employment.
This makes these women ultra vulnerable. PathFinders is responsible for providing shelter, support, and food for these women. They can also provide legal support. Founded in 2008, this organization has been helping mothers and children ever since.
What actions are the PathFinders taking?
Some of the actions taken by this charity for pregnant women and children are:
PathFinders support is diverse and includes advice and support on social protection, humanitarian support (e.g., food, shelter, and clothing), access to health care, immigration and legal aid, community education, and prevention. When the team has time, they also lead policy and systemic changes across all levels of government, legislature, and UN committees. Its purpose and mission should inspire more people, including employers, to give foreign domestic workers the rights they deserve and are entitled to.
You can contact them at Unit 11C, Worldwide Centre 123 Tung Chau Street Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon.
Phone number: +852 5500 5486
Customer service: +852 5190 4886