PathFinders shine a light on our achievements: Lorna Pagaduan, OFW, PathFinders Ambassador at the 15th anniversary celebration
Lorna Pagaduan, an OFW ambassador for PathFinders Limited, an organization that serves migrant workers and their children in Hong Kong, gave a heartfelt speech last night, 26 April, during the organization’s 15th-anniversary celebration held at the Foreign Correspondence Club.
Within the past 15 years, PathFinders Limited ensures that the most vulnerable and unsupported children in the city receive the protection and respect that they deserve. The organization also helps and empowers migrant mothers to pave a brighter future for themselves and their children.
With Pagaduan’s permission, HONG KONG NEWS has decided to publish her speech for other ambassadors who were unable to attend the event could read what her speech was about.
Her speech was edited for clarity purposes.
It’s my honor to be here this evening to speak on behalf of my community – and to say thank you for your care, support, and empowerment!
Being an MDW is not easy. One can just imagine working away from your loved ones, your family, in a foreign land.
The fact that many of us have university degrees and qualifications, but we chose to come to HK and be MDWs to work, with the goal and dreams of better life. Also, to be able to financially support our immediate and extended families.
Thus, it is so significant for employers to recognize domestic work is work. Just like any other job, it has job descriptions, and so with that being an MDW is not something to be ashamed of!
We are not “just” a maid/helper. We are far more than that.
Success isn’t defined by others. It shouldn’t be. But success is sweet because we sweat for it.
We should be the ones who is defining our own success.
The joy that we are enjoying every day, no matter how tiny achievements and goals we have, it should be celebrated because we have sweat for it.
We’ve achieved it amidst all the pains and struggles.
The majority of the 340,000 MDWs currently employed in Hong Kong are of childbearing age – as we can see that many are also mothers who have left their own children behind to take care other children.
Often, social and cultural norms in our home countries don’t encourage comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and/or gender equality [programs].
It is still a very sensitive topic in public.
This means that many of the women in our community are not aware of their maternity rights, and if they are aware, they lack the confidence to stand up for themselves.
There is also a widely held misconception that all children born in Hong Kong will receive permanent residency or citizenship status. It is a false bait of information that attracts many.
I am very proud to say that I am one of 229 professionally trained PathFinders Ambassadors.
Through the PathFinders training [program], my peers and I, are empowered as community leaders and equipped with the knowledge, information, and skills training to expand PathFinders’ outreach and signpost Crisis Intervention Services.
We provide bespoke training that enables us to professionally deliver PathFinders’ messages with confidence, accuracy, confidentiality, and in a way, that is culturally sensitive.
As Ambassadors, we are [encouraged] to create materials and to hold outreach events and workshops within the community even during the Covid-19 pandemic. It didn’t hinder us from exercising our passion – thanks to technology.
We [have] regularly shared updates with PathFinders’ Crisis Prevention Officers on the number of sessions and participants that we have reached as well as any evaluation highlights and recommendations.
“Yes, in Pathfinders, we have a voice and we are being heard!”
As Ambassadors, we feel enormously valued, respected, and cared for by PathFinders. As I always tell myself: “We can’t pour from an empty cup.” Pathfinders fill our cup with nutrients so for us to be able to pour them into others’ cups.
You can see here from one of the care packs that they gave us during the Covid-19 fifth wave, it was particularly difficult [period] for our community.
They have also created an online Open House – Mental Health Support Sessions for all Ambassadors that have enabled us to share our experiences and support each other.
What I particularly appreciate is how the PathFinders team regularly seeks out platforms to shine a light on our achievements that allow us to amplify our voices.
I personally have been:
- Involved in media interviews;
- Invited to publish a chapter in a book entitled MyVoice Volume 3 that became an Amazon Bestseller;
- Nominated for an AmCham Women of Influence Award;
- As well as for a Resolve Fellowship to expand the reach of my own charity;
- The Filipino Nurses Association of Hong Kong, and
- Lapis at Papel in the Philippines.
I have been regularly invited by PathFinders to join opportunities like this to represent my community. Just like in December 2022, I joined the TEDxTinHauWomen conference.
On behalf of all PathFinders Ambassadors, a huge thank you to each and every person here tonight,who has supported this wonderful program: whether with funding or training services, you can’t possibly imagine, how grateful we are for the opportunities your support has enabled us.
Likewise, thank you to the team at PathFinders. I’m grateful to be part of a program that so clearly represents your core values of respect, empowerment, care and collaboration.
Again, thank you to all!
By Lorna Pagaduan