Empower Her: Liza Avelino

On March 6th, Enrich organised a panel discussion on the empowerment of migrant domestic workers as part of Bloomberg’s month-long calendar of International Women’s Day events.  Our panelists provided varied perspectives on the empowerment of women and in particular, migrant domestic workers. We will share their three contributions to the discussion, starting with Liza Avelino, Mountaineer and Domestic Worker:

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International Women’s Day commemorates the struggles of women to achieve gender parity in all spheres of work, home and life and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. We are grateful to Bloomberg for giving us the opportunity to address these topics in relation to our work and cause of empowering migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong through financial and empowerment education.

Liza Avelino, Mountaineer and Domestic Worker

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Liza Avelino is a seasoned hiker, having completed two Trailwalkers, summited the 3,180-meter Mount Yarigatake in Japan and Mount Kinabalu (4,095m) in Malaysia, and trekked to an elevation of more than 5,300m in the Himalayas [Article in the South China Morning Post: here].

Liza is the first in the domestic work profession known to trek to such elevations. Facing poverty in her hometown of Davao in the Philippines, Liza came to work in Hong Kong in her twenties. Like many migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong, this was seen as the best option available to earn a living and support family. She had the childhood dream of being able to travel the world but this seemed impossible because there was never the time or money. It was not until several year later that Liza came across Enrich’s financial education workshops and began to see the possibility of that dream. She is one of Enrich’s early students and from Enrich she learned the need to prioritise goals and the importance of being clear and assertive in managing family’s expectations of financial support from her. Empowered with this new perspective on herself and her finances, coupled with her love for hiking, Liza her on the path to achieve her dream of traveling and achieving a feat that even the most adventurous of us wouldn’t dare!

Liza’s story of empowerment does not stop there – she has taken her story to inspire and empower others. Liza raised HK$10,000 for Enrich, empowering other migrant women to find financial stability and achieve their dreams. After experiencing the 2015 earthquake in Nepal herself [Interview in Coconuts: here], she has also gone back to support needs there. Most recently, Liza is organising hikes with the Clean Up Hong Kong Trails initiative – preserving the beauty of our hiking trails in Hong Kong, whilst sharing the opportunity feel the sense achievement at the top.

Liza’s motivation to achieve her goals is an inspiration to many. Her message to fellow migrant domestic workers: “I’m asking you to take this first step: invest in yourself. Review your dreams everyday and say to yourself – I will not give up until I win. You can live your dream.”

Liza will be leading a fundraising hike for Enrich, the Empowerment Hike, on April 9th 2017. Join the Empowerment Hike and help Enrich reach 10,000 migrant domestic workers through our financial education workshops and outreach initiatives. SIGN UP here.

Stay tuned for the discussion contributions by Joanna Bowers, and Christina Kautzky. 

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