The HelperChoice team was at the premiere of the documentary The Helper at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, Hong Kong on 14 May 2017. The documentary was framed in Hong Kong and features beautiful scenes shot in the Philippines and Nepal.
Have you ever wondered what the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ is? Well, The Helper is all about that (but also so much more). There are more than 350,000 domestic workers – also referred to as ‘helpers’ – in Hong Kong. We interact with these ‘all-in-one’ workers every single day and get to see them laugh, dance and sing during weekend gatherings, yet few of us really know them. The Helper follows some of these strong women and takes us through their life journeys while giving us the opportunity to appreciate the huge sacrifices behind the smiles.
Analyn’s story is similar to that of many other helpers in Hong Kong. She migrated to Hong Kong many years ago to support her sons back in the Philippines so they can have a chance at a successful future. While longing for her family’s presence she must deal with resentment from her elder son who does not understand the choices she made nor the distance that she had to put between them. For many of us, working abroad is an exciting chapter in our life; a wonderful experience we are looking forward to and above all a choice – but few of us have to leave their family back home during that time abroad.
Liza was lucky enough to find herself working for a supportive family who encouraged her and talked her into hiking during her rest days. She proved courageous and willing to conquer her fear. After a first failed attempt and strongly determined to prove she could do it, Liza successfully climbed the Everest. Nurul, an Indonesian helper, was sued by her former employer. Even though she was found not guilty, Nurul went through many ups and downs, especially after finding out that she was pregnant. Helpless, she found herself isolated until she met with PathFinders who supported her through her rough patch. Nurul’s case is not unique. Unlike other female workers in different industries helpers tend to face discrimination from their employers when they found out that they are pregnant.
Unsung Heroes – a choir of about 40 to 50 helpers – was launched by a music teacher to give them the opportunity to use their voices as a way of expressing their struggles and overcoming their fears. In 2015, the choir performed at Clockenflap – the largest music festival in Hong Kong. In their song “I Wish I Could Kiss You Goodnight”, they voice their sorrow after many years of separation from their children. The leader of the choir confessed that the first time they played the song ‘I Wish I Could Kiss You Goodnight’, almost all the members cried; we sure take her word for it as we – and so did the audience – couldn’t help shedding a tear every now and then as their stories were overwhelming.
The Helper reminded us that we often do not cherish what we have as much as we should. The power of the documentary resides in the perspective adopted by the directors who subtly humanize and celebrate these strong women. The documentary achieves its goal perfectly by taking us ‘behind the scenes’. It was refreshing – and moving – to focus on those unsung heroes’ strength and positive energy rather than the many abuses they face every single day.
For more information about The Helper please drop us an email or visit https://helperdocumentary.com/.