Enrich was featured in an article, ‘Hong Kong domestic helpers’ dreams dashed by debt,’ that appeared in the South China Morning Post’s Magazine in June 2016.
The article is a comprehensive look into debt and the financial conditions faced by migrant domestic workers, highlighting the plight of those locked in a vicious cycle of poverty, caught between employment agency fees, spiralling debt and family pressure.
One story that really struck us was that of Jorial Funtaniel, a 32-year old migrant domestic worker with four children under the age of 12, who has recently started a new job in Hong Kong. Her hopes, like so many migrant domestic workers, are universal: to fund her family’s day-to-day life and her children’s education, as well as to save for the future.
“My goal is to educate my children and to save for their future,” Funtaniel tells the Post. “I need to pay off my debts and pay for food for my family. Then I also have to pay for my parents and siblings. I would like to stay for two contracts – four years. I hope that will be long enough.”
Jorial has attended two Enrich workshops so far, including Moneywise for Newcomers, focusing on budgeting exercises to help balance the books and address the demands on new migrant workers, as well as help set achievable money management goals and an action plan. “Before I came here, I thought I’d have lots of money left for me,” she says. “Now I realise that there is nothing after each remittance.”
Jorial is at the beginning of her journey of migration, and like so many before her, has come to the realisation that she may have to stay for longer than she anticipated in order to go back with adequate savings for her family’s future. According to the recently published Farsight report, “Modern Slavery in East Asia,” only 6% of migrant domestic workers return home because they feel they have saved enough money.
Often, when migrant women are interviewed in their home country the biggest priority is saving for their future, and when the same question is asked in the foreign country where they are working, this has shifted to supporting their families. This is a subtle change, but an important one, where the day-to-day demands outweigh the long term aspirations for a secure future.
As the leading Hong Kong charity promoting the economic empowerment of migrant domestic workers, we empower migrant domestic workers to invest in themselves through financial and empowerment education. Our workshops equip migrant women with the tools to save, budget, and plan for greater financial security. Since our establishment in 2007, we have welcomed more than 7,000 participants to over 400 workshops with 28,000 family members in home countries impacted.
To read the full article, including extracts from the Post’s interview with Enrich’s Executive Director Lenlen Mesina and Director of External Relations Emily Halsall, click here.
Read more about economic migration of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong: here.
2017 is Enrich’s 10 Anniversary year. For 10 years we have been educating and empowering migrant domestic workers to change the ways they and their families manage money to achieve a more financially stable future. Join us as we reach our next 10,000: here.
Photo and Illustration Credit: South China Morning Post