Domestic workers in Hong Kong gather on a day off. Photo: Asia Times
Domestic workers in Hong Kong gather on a day off. Photo: Asia Times

For 32 years, one place of refuge in Hong Kong has served as a temporary shelter for domestic workers in times of crisis.

Now, due to lack of funds, the future of the shelter is at risk, and the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge has launched a public appeal for financial support to avert a crisis that threatens it with closure, news website reported.

Existing funding will only allow the shelter to operate until the end of June. Domestic workers who have in the past received support from the refuge have joined the appeal for public support.

Ariane, a Filipina domestic worker who is a single mother with two children, stayed in Bethune for six months while awaiting a court case with her former employer.

Ariane’s employer expected her to work from 6am till 3am the next day, attending to a four-storey villa, and she was repeatedly subjected to foul verbal abuse.

Ariane could not stand the abuse and resigned. On the same day, her employer reported to the police that Ariane had stolen jewelry, causing her to be detained for a day before later being released due to insufficient evidence.

Ariane decided to go to court and seek compensation from her former employer. But she had to do this at a time when she had no money, and no place to live. Thanks only to help from the Bethune refuge, she was able to pursue the case.

Many other domestic workers who have received support from the Bethune charity joined the appeal to the people of Hong Kong for support.

Bethune House is funded through donations from local churches, migrant organizations, service institutions, and concerned individuals in Hong Kong and overseas. It receives no government subsidies.

The charity provides shelter and food and counselling to around 30 domestic workers a month.

The Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge’ Facebook page