CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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It ain’t just about money

HONG KONG (SE): “It ain’t just about money” was the strong message coming out of a certificate presentation ceremony for graduates from two basic seminars on financial literacy, as well as those who had been through an entrepreneurship course at Bayanihan Centre on January 31.

CARD MRI Hong Kong, which operates under the auspices of the Philippine micro-credit organisation the Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development, conducts seminars on basic financial literacy for migrant workers in Hong Kong on a regular basis.

To date, over 1,500 have gone through the basic course and research carried out by the organisation in 2013 reveals that although it is money that attracts migrants to Hong Kong, there are often far more basic issues that need to be dealt with as well.

The survey shows that they often have to deal with failed relationships back home, problems within the family, dependence on others to look after their children, illness of loved ones and the dependency of others on them, all of which taxes their meagre income.

But most importantly, the survey notes that unless families back home have a good understanding of the goals that migrant workers are trying to achieve, the sailing will never be smooth, and one common way that this is manifested is in the accumulation of uncontrollable debt.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the president of CARD Hong Kong, Rex Aguado, pointed to the worrying suicide rate among migrants in the city that are debt related. He said that this points to the importance of having a good grasp of how to use money well and constructively.

One graduate told the Sunday Examiner that she has been involved with many activities in Hong Kong, but has never had the type of opportunity to talk about her own life as meaningfully as she has in the financial literacy course that she took.

Staff from CARD in The Philippines visit the families of migrant workers who have locked into the ongoing Hong Kong programme to try to give them a better understanding of their situation. 

However, experience shows that unless they have a good understanding of the Hong Kong situation, even this is not adequate.

Nevertheless, progress in being made.

Learning about money is learning about life and especially family life. Many respondents to the survey said that their life styles have changed since they graduated from the financial literacy course, as they have learned how to involve their husbands, children and relatives more effectively in their long term plans.

Even seemingly simple things like re-accessing the meaning of the word need was mentioned and the necessity of distinguishing between need and want.

It adds that graduates reported that the course helps them to be more vocal with their husbands back home over the handling of money and enables them to discuss more effectively with them about financial priorities.

One said that it increased her teamwork with her husband and also gave her the courage to employ more tough love with her children, getting them to understand a bit better how hard it is to earn money in Hong Kong.

Most also reported that they have begun teaching their children to save money from an early age.

While financial literacy is about money, it recognises that there are a whole range of life issues that need to be addressed as well if it is to be successful.


But with a bit of determination and a few hints from the trainers, life in all its dimensions can become a whole lot better and the possibility of going home for good with a concrete plan for the future can become more than a vague dream.

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