23 July 2011

Getting Acquainted with Hong Kong

The last few days I have been wandering Hong Kong, learning the routes to and from stores and the places I will be working.

Four days I will be at the Mission for Migrant Workers, located at St. John's Cathedral on Hong Kong Island. Two days during the week I will be at the Bethune House, a shelter for women located in Kowloon (close to wear I live). I have had a little training so far, and a history lesson about the Philippines as well, but I have so much to learn!

Spencer left for home yesterday and I was sad to see her go! She was an amazing guide and gracious hostess during my first week (and her last week!) here. If not for her I would be so lost! So I am wishing her lots of success as she heads to law school in DC this fall.

Services at the Cathedral are amazing. I have been at the 9am sung service the last two Sundays and I just adore it. The basic format of the service is the same as it is back home-- songs, readings, prayers, Eucharist-- with some variations. I learned today that the Intercessors write their own prayers (and the congregation responds en masse, Lord, have mercy or something similar), which I think is such a lovely idea. You have to get here early for a seat though---services fill up quickly! They have a Filipino service in the afternoon as well. I am so looking forward to being a part of the spiritual community here.

My friend Christian was here for a few days with his mom and sister. He attended the YASC discernment weekend with me in February but chose to defer for a year. It was so good to see him again!! I hadn't seen him since then (except for a brief Skype conversation that we had with him during the orientation in Toronto), but it was good to spend time with him. We went on some tours around Hong Kong and had our fortunes told on Temple street. So interesting!

Learning about the plight of migrant workers here in Hong Kong has been particularly interesting (and important for the work I am doing). People come from the Philippines (and other countries), some of them have university degrees and have been nurses or teachers, but the pay is so much better here as a domestic helper that they leave behind families and loved ones to come here and work. Unfortunately, they cannot just become direct hires, they have to go through Recruitment Agencies, and often these agencies charge exorbitant--and illegal--fees. I will commend to those interested in learning more to read the following articles:

Overseas Filipino Workers : article from a blog by the Central Philippine University

Mission for Migrant Workers : The Mission I am working for has a great newsletter with many articles about current events going on in the migrant community.

A video documenting the experience of a migrant worker with the Philippine Labour Attache to Hong Kong Romulo Salud:

Please feel free to comment with any thoughts or questions. The internet at my apartment is down so I have to go elsewhere for a connection, but once it is fixed I will upload the photos I have taken so far. Thanks for all your support!

Grace and Peace,

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