Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the transnational hubs of the East. Being one of the first Asian cities facilitating collaboration of the East and West, Hong Kong is marked by its rapid economic growth in the industrial and service-sector. In turn, it attracted a substantial flow of international workers from all professions. Among these mobilizing workers, one group permeates the city but is often hidden behind the limelight – domestic helpers.
Domestic helpers are economic migrants who come to Hong Kong to work as housemaids. Due to the city’s high cost of living, Hong Kong households often have two – rather than one – breadwinners. Hence, live-in domestic helpers are hired to primarily assist with childcare, meal preparation, and household chores. Although the salary offered is substantially lower than Hong Kong’s minimum wage, it remains an attractive option for Filipinos, Indonesians, and people from other less developed regions in SE Asia. It offers an economic stability that is unfound in their home countries. As of 2016, there are more than 350,000 domestic helpers in Hong Kong.
What role does these domestic helpers play in the Hong Kong society? What are the opportunities gained from this experience? What are the challenges they face? How do Hong Kong locals perceive and interact with the locals? What are the injustices that they face – in the process of their migration, and in their daily lives in Hong Kong?
Our internship program explored the above questions through a two-week immersion experience.