Working on that project I saw a lot of numbers. Normally I flee from numbers like the Israelites from Egypt (with hopefully a bit less grumbling) but because this was such an important part of the work that the Mission does I did my best to examine the data and see what it showed. I calculated percentages and made pie charts and graphs and highlighted numbers of this or that type of case.
But what is so important, and this is something Rev. Catherine always reiterates when we are talking about statistics like this, is that each of those numbers represents and individual.
We hear so many devastating stories. Women who face seemingly insurmountable odds as they try to provide for themselves and their families, as they try to survive in a world where everything seems stacked against them. They persevere. They smile. They laugh. They show gratitude. Fellow missionary Joy recently posted about an experience with some of her clients; very moving, and something that is all too common.
Of the 2,382 migrant workers served in 2011, MFMW observed the following:
--78% of our clients were Filipino, 21% Indonesian, with another small percentage of other Southeast Asians
--86% are sending money back to their home countries to support family
--Average age was 35
--40% have at least a college education
The Mission handled a variety of cases regarding mostly Agency and Labour issues, along with smaller percentages of police or debt related cases.
Working Conditions remain hard for migrant workers, with an average of 16-17 working hours in a day (they are required to live in their employer's home, so they are basically on call 24 hours a day)... They have no space of their own, often sleeping in closets or laundry rooms or wherever they can find space.
Each of those numbers represents individual women, with their own stories to tell.