Pinay maids feed homeless in Hong Kong
MANILA, Philippines - Despite a proposal by two legislators to ban the hiring of Filipino maids in reaction to alleged government inaction on the 2010 hostage tragedy that saw eight Hong Kong tourists killed in Manila by a dismissed policeman, Filipino workers spend their weekly day off volunteering at a program to feed the homeless in Hong Kong.
Every Sunday at the Cornerstone International Church of God in Sham Shui Po, over 30 Filipino maids start cooking rice in the early morning hours, to be packed into over 100 rice boxes together with dishes brought over by the owner of a nearby restaurant, a Filipino known as Ming Gor.
By early evening the maids and about a dozen Chinese volunteers bring the food boxes, plastic tableware and chairs to the space under the Tung Chau Street overpass, where many elderly homeless people – known as street sleepers in Hong Kong – wait for the free meal.
A South China Morning Post report said the Street Sleepers Registry kept by the Social Welfare Department listed 595 homeless people. But according to the Society for Community Organization, the number is more than double that citywide. About half of them are in Sham Shui Po.
Filipino pastor Daniel Miguel Villa said: “It’s a great blessing to all, not a burden, though we are not a rich church. It brings joy to our sisters – we are not just here to be helped by the Chinese, we are also able to help them back.”
The church’s feeding program started with distributing bread donated by fastfood chain Maxim’s. Then Brian Cha, a fitness trainer who earlier this year broke a Guinness World Record by hitting 8,000 golf balls in 12 hours, volunteered to raise funds for the food boxes, at a cost of HK$10-13 each.
Now Cornerstone serves over 100 meals every Sunday, plus bread-sharing outreach programs in Victoria Park and Sha Tin.
They are not always welcome though. In Sha Tin last month, when the Filipinos were distributing bread, an old man shouted at them in Cantonese: “You all go home, go back to the Philippines.”
Pastor Villa said the outburst hurt, but added, “I can’t blame him because those bad things happened,” referring to the hostage tragedy. “But I hope there will be a little bit more mutual understanding.”
Tommy Tam, one of the church’s few Chinese members, agreed. “If we can entrust them with our most valuable possession, our children, we can be more compassionate.”