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Project 3:  Hong Kong

A Weekly Celebration of Community

By Gordon Klco

          It was a Sunday; the island of Hong Kong was void of the hustle and bustle of weekday traffic but jam-packed with the lively conversations and singing of the city’s migrant workers.  The Filipino community is Hong Kong’s largest migrant worker community.  The majority of these migrants are women.  The affluent families of Hong Kong employ these women as maids and nannies for cheaper salaries.  Every Sunday these Filipina workers gather in the city parks and have a day long picnic on their only day off.    
    The day that I was on Hong Kong Island it had been raining.  That did not disrupt the festivities.  Instead, it made the party seem larger.   The many Filipina picnickers were huddled under any cover they could find.  There were hundreds in the subway, under building awnings, anywhere that was dry.  All the groups of women had their blankets spread out and were eating, playing cards, reading or conversing.  They sat and eat while listening to music over loudspeakers that were setup throughout the downtown area.  Along with the picnicking, there was dancing and singing going on.  The atmosphere was fun and light.

    As I walked through groups of hundreds of women it became very clear to me what an amazing sense of community this weekly celebration gives to the workers.  As Constable found, most of the Filipina workers are severely discriminated against by their employers.  They are thought of as less than and stupid.  Working in such a hostile environment must be hard for these women mentally.  Also, many of these women have families back in the Philippines who they don’t see for months at a time.  These picnics seem to help support the women and recharge them for the next week of work.  To have a community of other women in a similar situation must make their situation easier to deal with.  Being around that community opened my eyes to the amount of support people can get if they just look around.  You always have a community no matter where you are.
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