NGO eyes health-related programs for migrant workers

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Filipino domestic workers in Central

NGO Mission for Migrant Workers is set to initiate health-awareness programs for foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong in 2018.

Cynthia Tellez, Mission general manager, told Hong Kong News that recent cases that they handled showed the need for more health-related programs for foreign domestic workers in the city.

“While we continue addressing immediate problems and those what we think are unacceptable policies such as the mandatory live-in policy, what we are doing now is to contact service providers that give training for practical physical health condition,” Tellez said.

She noted that with limited space in Hong Kong, the live-in policy brings about health problems for foreign domestic workers who would be made to sleep in kitchens, cupboards, and sometimes even balconies.

“Kasi kapag ang higaan mo very limited ang space may epekto iyan sa kalagayan mo. Kung wala tayong magagawa para maiba ang kalagayan ng mga domestic workers, kahit paano maibsan naman ito. It’s about time we pay attention to their health,” Tellez added.

She said most domestic workers think pains and aches were normal part of aging, but the pace of deterioration of their physical condition is alarming.

“They come here to consult employment-related problems, but then we discover they suffer hand or back pains. They also become forgetful and it is because of stress. That’s why for 2017, our popular programs include exercises or training for mindfulness and stress reduction.

The Mission had helped distressed domestic workers in Hong Kong recover an average of $2.5 million in illegal fees every year.

This was one of the findings of the first ever impact evaluation of its operations to various stakeholders in the territory.

According to the report “Summary of Impact Evaluation Report 2004-2014”, under MFMW’s Labour and Employment Assistance Program (LEAP), the organization’s clients who were able to claim benefits and recover illegally-collected or overcharged agency fees, amounting to an average of $2.5 million a year.

Besides monetary claims, MFMW also helped in cases resulting in waiving of fraudulent loans; closure of some erring recruitment agencies; imposition of administrative sanctions to misbehaving government officials and; waiver of fees in hospitals for residents of temporary shelters.

Meanwhile, clients that sought the assistance of MFMW through LEAP rose from 1,000 to an average of 4,400 in 2013 and 2014.

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