Seen on Sunday: Migrants Health Matters

At one booth domestic helpers could check their blood pressure

Sharing health-related matters was the central message at the Migrants Health Matters event.

A volunteer is asking a domestic helper what HIV stands for: A. Human Infection Virus B. Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The Indonesian women looks confused and asks, rather than answers, A? The volunteer looks at her and asks: “are you sure?” The Indonesian helper looks at her friend, who is equally confused, and shrugs her shoulders. The volunteer sighs, shortly explains that it is B and moves on to the next question.

At one booth domestic helpers could check their blood pressure
A Filipina volunteer checks the blood pressure of a domestic worker

Hundreds of domestic helpers came to the Migrants Health Matters event, organized by PathFinders, Christian Action and St. John’s Cathedral HIV Education Centre. It was the second event organized purposefully on a Sunday, the day when most domestic helpers are off from work.

“We are here to educate the helpers so that they can protect themselves,” said one of the volunteers. “They have many misconceptions about AIDS and HIV. Many think, for example, that you can get HIV from mosquitoes. But this is not the case.”

All domestic helpers received information on health
A volunteer from St. John’s HIV Education Centre gives some information to two Indonesian domestic helpers

The Migrants Health Matter day was free for domestic helpers. Helpers could learn about basic medical treatment, about how to protect themselves and where to get tested for STD’s. Workshops were held in Bahasa Indonesian and English for those interested. And perhaps most welcome were the free massages, offered by a team of Filipino domestic helpers.

The location, in Choi Hung, made the event less accessible, but it also meant the helpers that did attend could ask more questions. Helpers are often worried that they lose their jobs if they tell their employers about feeling unwell or wanting to have a medical check-up. The event offered them a free solution.

Migrants Health Matters
Migrants Health Matters Banners

At another booth, Enrich Hong Kong was promoting an altogether different concept of health. Financial health to be precise. The focus shifting from HIV contraction to how to manage one’s finances and debts.

Domestic helpers at the Migrants' Health Matters
Domestic helpers received information packages and snacks at each booth

Most helpers left in small groups of friends giggling and laughing about some of the new information they had received. As such the event did what it intended to: share knowledge and offer an enjoyable and free afternoon.