Stories of Peacemakers: Hong Kong, SAR, P.R. of China
Mission For Migrant Workers Ltd. (MFMW) in Hong Kong, SAR, P.R. of China, works with Indonesian and Philippine Foreign Domestic Workers, a group of nearly 300,000 women who migrate to Hong Kong for work to support families still at home. One main program of MFMW is to train the workers in their legal rights and responsibilities. During a training session that included a segment on illegal recruitment practices, one woman shared her experience, a story repeated by nearly one third of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. This woman was a single mother of a one-year-old boy when she applied with an agency to become a domestic worker in Hong Kong. The employing agency required her to pay a $680 placement fee to receive a job. After she had signed all of the paperwork, she was then required to sign a loan for $1360 and was told she would pay the loan back in her first five paychecks. Going into debt was a requirement for obtaining the domestic worker job. Once on the job, the mother received a monthly paycheck amounting to $482, of which $423 was to be deducted for the loan payment for five months, which included the interest on the loan. She sent home the remaining $59 each month, leaving nothing to care for her own personal needs. Friends pointed her to the MFMW seminars where she began to learn about both lawful and unlawful practices of agencies employing domestic workers. The loan she had signed was fraudulent and the placement fee was illegal. MFMW worked with her to file a case against the agency which she won, and she received a settlement of $1290 from the agency and a complete waiver of the loan.
United Methodist Women believes that all people are worthy of respect and honor as all were created in God's image. The director of MFMW Ltd. guides this organization, which receives support from Mission Giving, based on verses 8-9 from Proverbs 31: "Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy." (NRSV)
God of all Voices, speak to us, defend our stand for the rights of those who cannot speak. Speak through us and guide our work as United Methodist Women so that we have both courage and faith to stand with Jesus and proclaim release for the captives caught in worldly webs of deceit. Speak with us that we never stray from those who need us most of all.
Carol Van Gorp is the executive for international ministries, United Methodist Women.