Dr. Michael Manio
Program Director and Co-Founder, EmpowerU

Added 29th Jun `20

What is your name and the organisation you represent?

Dr. Michael Manio, Program Director and Co-Founder EmpowerU (formerly Domestic Workers Empowerment Program, DWEP).

Tell us more about your group’s advocacy.

EmpowerU is an educational and empowerment platform that originated at HKU as part of a CEDARS knowledge exchange project. Founded by Dr. Michael Manio, EmpowerU (originally called the Domestic Worker Empowerment Program, or DWEP), initially provided domestic workers with lessons on subjects like practical health and nutrition, basic rights and empowerment, nature appreciation, physical fitness, and performing arts. The aim was to upgrade their knowledge and skills for their respective jobs, help them assimilate to life in HK, and to help prepare them for life after HK. 

With the help of Mr. David Bishop from the Faculty of Business and Economics and Ms. Lindsay Ernst from the Law Faculty, DWEP has now been rebranded as EmpowerU and aims to become Asia’s largest education platform for migrant workers.

EmpowerU aim to scale-up the impact, educating and empowering thousands of migrant workers in HK, and expanding their courses abroad. EmpowerU is collaborating with various government, NGOs, and corporate stakeholders to create and deliver its course content. To date, several major corporations like WiFa, Bloomberg, BnP Paribas, Bank of America- Merrill Lynch, and others have expressed support and interest in working with EmpowerU. 

How do you enrol for a class at EmpowerU?

Domestic workers can enrol on our 3-year tailored made curriculum (In-class or Online Platform).  Please visit our website or email us  for more info!

What social issues would you like to see improve in Hong Kong?

One of the social issues that we want to address is access to quality education. Build an empowering educational platform for workers to uplift and upgrade their knowledge and skills (CPR and AED use, Fire Safety and Prevention, Health and Nutrition, Know Your Rights, Public Health, Business and Finance, Entrepreneurship, Elderly Care, Basic Computer, Public Speaking and others) while in Hong Kong. 

Create the region’s first in class and online learning platform focused on disadvantaged groups, thereby alleviating poverty and social exclusion through enhanced access to quality digital education. 

What is your advice for migrant workers here in Hong Kong?

There were so many times that people judge our domestic workers, unruly, uneducated, loud, uncivilized name it. But we conquered others by educating ourselves, constantly learning for us to improve, to grow, and become the best version of ourselves.  We need to surround ourselves with positive people, who will uplift us, who will support us, and mentor us to be our best. Your family, friends and employers will be your backbone and your safe place. 

I believe God sent me here in Hong Kong, because I have a purpose.  Knowing the history, challenges, struggles of the domestic workers here in Hong Kong, I thought of the OFWs in sitting at the cardboard boxes in Central and I think of you, your family, your kids and your loved ones. 

I may only be one person, but now I have the opportunity to serve domestic workers, and I knew that I was doing this for all the domestic workers who aim to improve their lives and be reunited with their families.  Inside each and every one of us is a leader with the ability to conquer the world, whatever that may be for you.

For some migrant workers, Hong Kong may be a temporary place, a stepping stone for a bigger dream, or a layover to explore and discover what we really want in life. Remember your purpose why you are here in Hong Kong. 

Always set a realistic goal, be SMART and make yourself relevant.  Challenge yourself that you can do more, believe in yourself and remember education is for all.

Be safe, be healthy and be kind to all.