Sunday, 19 September 2010

Picture of the Day: Sundays in Central

Filipino domestic helpers spending their Sunday at the HSBC headquarters in Central
For most 140,000 Filipinos working in Hong Kong as domestic helpers, Sunday is their only day off.

A number of them go to church, while the rest of them hang out in a variety of places all over the city.

It seems the majority of them descend on Central, where the authorities have even closed off Chater road in between Alexandra House and Prince's Building for these maids to socialize with their friends, play poker, get hair cuts and even perms, manicures and pedicures, or sing songs and dance.

Those seeking shelter from the elements choose the passageway at the HSBC headquarters. They pull out blankets or cardboard sheets to sit on, bring food they've made from home and have a giant picnic. Today I saw some Southeast Asian men trying to sell jeans, walking from group to group holding several pairs, but seeming unsuccessful in their sales pitches.

It is disappointing the Hong Kong government isn't doing more to give these people a more comfortable place to rest and relax, as they provide what has now become an almost essential service to millions of families in the city.

They cook and clean, do the laundry, walk the dogs, pick up children from school, drive cars and whatever else their employers want them to do for six days a week for less than HK$4,000 a month.

But they manage to save most of that money every month and remit it back home, where they are able to use it to send their children to school, rebuild their house or buy a car.

However, as a New York Times story says, sometimes money doesn't really buy happiness, resulting in fractious relationships between parents and children, resulting in a lack of good grades to become more upwardly mobile.

Nevertheless, these migrant workers play a vital role in Hong Kong's economy and they should be given more recognition for it.

1 comment:

  1. don't blame the government. there is just no more space left in hong kong for this coordinated influx of humanity into such a small space on sundays.