Hong Kong’s foreign domestic workers are its unsung heroes, and deserve better
Domestic helpers are the unsung heroes of Hong Kong: they do the housework, and take care of babies and the elderly, so that local men and women can stay in the workforce and earn a living. A case in point is my post-surgery 89-year-old grandfather, who requires the daily care of a helper to live a decent life.
On their days off, all helpers are looking for is a chance to put up their feet and meet their peers. Given the limited space in the city, they have no choice but to occupy the parks, footbridges and roadside areas.
The fact is, domestic helpers just don’t have many places to congregate in during holidays. To suggest that they are an eyesore and a nuisance is nothing but a complete affront to their character and blatant disregard for their contribution. After all, it is because of their dedication to local families that the economy here can continue to flourish.
Don’t forget that they leave behind their families in their home countries to take care of ours. Plus, with their meagre monthly salary, where else can they hang out with friends? They need an open space to just rest, enjoy some snacks and perhaps listen to some music. Of course, they should not leave rubbish behind or cause too much noise pollution.
A practical solution would be to open abandoned school campuses to the helpers. That way, not only can they relish the time spent with their peers, they don’t have to worry about noise levels or disturbing other people either. Of course, there is the issue of managing these premises, which can be solved by recruiting part-time security guards and cleaning workers. This will also create new job opportunities for locals.
Sometimes, a little understanding goes a long way towards building a more inclusive society. Foreign domestic helpers do not deserve the disrespect, ridicule and discrimination that they are subjected to from some quarters. We should be more humane towards our dedicated helpers.
Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai