Concerned expat a helper for the helpers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 March, 2004, 12:00am

In Hong Kong, families are afforded an extra luxury - help - in the form of a hard-working amah (usually from the Philippines). Even the single expat has one part-time to iron his shirt collars. And when you roam the streets of Mid-Levels during the day, amahs are wandering around the streets with baby strollers in tow.

One expat wife who felt inspired to help the much needed population of domestic helpers was Julie Jacobson. Born in the UK and raised in New Zealand, the advertising executive arrived in Hong Kong in 1989 and left 13 years later. After her baby girl was born, she decided to give up her job.

'Having packed up my career I needed something to stop me turning into a gin and tonic-soaked expat tai tai,' Julie said.

Her idea came from the many complaints she heard about the helpers and what they were not doing right.

'The constant complaints I heard from friends and acquaintances about their helpers' shortcomings led me to believe that most employers did not have the time or inclination to train their helpers.

'There was obviously a need, and as there was little to nothing available in the way of training helpers, I wrote Helper's Helper, a how-to book, with my helper Melly. But before the book was launched I had to move to the US and Sars hit as well, so I have not been back,' she said.

Helper's Helper is on sale at Bookazine for $99.