NGO Spotlight: Pathfinders

  26th Sep 21


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Overview

For Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) - required by law to live with their employers during their tenure - becoming pregnant in Hong Kong can seem like a daunting prospect. For many women finding themselves in that position, it can often lead to feelings of confusion and vulnerability.

Pathfinders was founded in 2008 to address these challenges, driven by the belief that all children deserve a fair start in life. Providing a range of services, including care and counselling to mothers and children in crisis, Pathfinders has since developed into one of Hong Kong’s leading NGOs, offering support and resources to almost 8,000 babies, children and women since its inception.

The NGO is also a key source of information, helping MDWs understand their rights and empowering them to make well-informed life decisions while living and working in HK. Pathfinders provides education not only to MDWs, but also to employers and the wider population, aiming to break the social stigma around MDW pregnancy through better insight and understanding.

Most recently, their #WorkingMomsHK campaign has focused on establishing greater empathy for MDWs, many of whom are mothers too and spend most of their children’s lives away from home, saving for their education and future. For those wishing to support this cause, for a minimum $300 donation, you’ll receive an exclusive Pathfinders face mask to celebrate and show support for all working mothers in the city. Through a programme called ‘Train the Trainers’, Pathfinders appoints Ambassadors, MDW community leaders tasked with empowering their peers. It now has a total of 126 Ambassadors, who between them helped Pathfi nders achieve a 31% increase in MDW engagement last year. Check out our Know Your Pangyao section at PANGYAO.HK, where we’ve been talking to several Pathfi nders Ambassadors about their experiences and motivations.

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Did You Know?

    • There are over 370,000 Migrant Domestic Workers in Hong Kong, many of them women of childbearing age
    • It is legal for MDWs to be pregnant in HK
    • MDWs employed for at least 40 weeks are entitled to 14 weeks maternity leave, just like all working women in HK
    • Employers do not need to cover their workers’ pregnancy-related expenses
    • A MDW’s baby, if born in HK, does not necessarily become a HK permanent resident

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Stories of Strength

As part of the International Domestic Workers Day (IDWD) Outreach Programme, Pathfinders Ambassadors Ellie and Yayuk met with Migrant Domestic Workers around Hong Kong to share stories of strength and resilience.

Pathfinders Ambassador Ellie

"I’m hugely proud of these women; they’ve overcome many challenges faced with their employers, the Labour Department, and other social issues" - Ellie

Jeannette: As a single mother, Jeanette’s 12-year-old daughter remains her constant source of strength, despite the challenges of keeping in touch (her daughter lives in a remote area of the Philippines without access to Wi-Fi).

Jenny: Jenny got pregnant during her employment in Hong Kong and is now the mother of a 4-year-old child. The sole breadwinner, she also takes care of her husband on dialysis, so feels the need to remain strong for the sake of her family.

Jackie: Jackie stays positive while working away from her family due to a supportive husband, who helps take care of their children and ensures they always keep in touch.

Pathfinders Ambassador Yayuk

"I’m moved by talking to our fellow MDWs. Beneath their elegant, beautiful, friendly and cheerful appearances, many have sacrificed a lot to achieve their dreams and goals" – Yayuk

Juvilen: Initially battling homesickness and the emotional struggles of separation from her daughter back home, Juvilen credits talking with friends, going to church, and thinking positively about her child’s future, as key factors in managing her feelings and coping with these challenges.

Nafsiah: Nafsiah moved from Indonesia 19 years ago to secure a stable future for her children. She’s faced many challenges, including being underpaid and poorly treated by past employers. However, she has since found a good and stable employer, and her struggles have not been in vain; her eldest child recently graduated and her youngest is working on his college thesis, which makes her both grateful and proud.

Novi: Novi’s strength comes from knowing she can provide a better education for her children, one of which has already graduated and become independent. She is now focused on her own savings and investments, which include future plans to build a business with her husband.


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