Maids' centre hits right note

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 December, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 December, 1994, 12:00am

FILIPINA maids who gathered at the first of the new Sunday centres yesterday have voted it a success.

About 100 domestic helpers tried out the centre, organised by the Bayanihan Trust, at Clementi Middle School in Fortress Hill.

Trust director Robert Corpuz said: 'It is a great success. You can see from their faces they are very happy.' He said the centre cost about $10,000 to operate yesterday, covering the cost of hire of chairs and a public address system. It will give maids a chance to learn new languages, attend seminars and enjoy entertainment such as singing contests.

Maids said it provided a welcome alternative to Sundays spent fighting the crowds in Statue Square, and a chance to meet old friends and make new ones.

'This is a great idea, now we have some place to go on our days off,' said Joy. 'It is the first place we have to get acquainted and have social interaction with other Filipinas.' She said she would be spreading the word among her Filipina friends to come to the centre next Sunday.

'This centre is a good idea,' said Celestina. 'We have enjoyed ourselves very much because this is our own space.' Her friend Pean said: 'Normally after we go to church we just have to roam around on our days off.' Another maid, Asuncion, said more centres were needed so all domestic helpers could benefit.

President of Filipina group, the Associacion Negrense, Teresita Gaspar, said: 'It is good because it is not as crowded as Statue Square but the only problem is it is not quite as convenient for those of us who live somewhere else.' There were no complaints from residents, and Bayanihan trustee Antony Marden said he did not expect any further opposition, such as that which has plagued the establishment of a centre in North Point.

Four more centres are due to open before March at the Ho Tung Technical School for Girls in Causeway Bay, the Jockey Club Government Technical School in Kowloon Tong, the Kowloon Technical School in Shamshuipo and the Po Leung Kuk Yu Lee Mo Fan Memorial School in North Point.

The deputy director of Home Affairs, Philip Chok, said a steering committee, comprising members of district boards and representatives of the police, the Urban Services Department, the Transport Department and the Education Department as well as representatives from the Trust, and parent-teacher associations would oversee the running of the centres.

They are financed by the Bayanihan Trust, which has so far raised about half of the estimated $10 million required.

Mr Chok said the community should acknowledge the valuable contribution made by domestic helpers by providing activities for them on their rest days.