One village house in a rural area of Hong Kong’s New Territories is not only a place for a group of Filipino domestic workers to gather together, rest, sing and dance on Sundays but also a temporary shelter for those who have nowhere to go when their employment contracts get terminated.
This place is called the “Beautiful Ladies’ Club.”
On January 8, news website HK01.com published a feature story about Witni, a 50-year-old Filipino domestic worker who founded the club.
Witni has been working in Hong Kong for 26 years. Some 18 years ago, her employer rented a village house for her to enjoy on her rest days.
“I want to help other domestic workers but I don’t have [many] resources. This place is the only thing that I could provide,” Witni said.
Eight years ago, the village house started to be used as a temporary shelter for maids who had lost their jobs.
According to Hong Kong law, if a contract is terminated by either the employer or the domestic worker, the worker must leave Hong Kong within two weeks unless a new employer can be found within that period of time.
Witni has helped more than a hundred Filipino domestic workers by offering them a place to stay while they look for a new employer. She has even lent them money to go back to the Philippines if they could not find a new employer within the two-week period.
Some domestic workers have called Witni “Auntie,” as in Filipino parlance, that word is used for mother-like figures. They think Witni has been like a mother in the way she helps them solve their problems.
Witni met her partner Tatang seven years ago in Hong Kong. The couple are just like parents as they take care of every maid they meet, talking to them and sharing both their happiness and their sadness.
“This place is just like our village in the Philippines, I feel like [I’m] at home,” a maid named Vel said. “Our family is far away from us but here in the Beautiful Ladies’ Club, Witni, Tatang and other workers are just like my family.”
However, as the government is planning to retake possession of the land where the village house is located, Witni said it’s uncertain whether they will be able to find another place to continue the club.