CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Getting serious about upgrading skills

HONG KONG (SE): The Domestic Workers Empowerment Project, held at the campus of the University of Hong Kong, entered its second stage in February this year with more diversified subjects included in the programme.

To encourage participants to put more effort into enhancing their knowledge, those admitted into the programme had to meet some qualifying requirements to take part in the second phase.

At a graduation ceremony on September 27 last year, marking the end of the first stage of the project, migrant workers who had attended the full round of six talks conducted over a period from December 2014 on various health topics, including hypertension and varicose veins, diabetes, menopause, gout, breast cancer and sexually-transmitted diseases, were awarded a certificate.

Michael Manio, from the Faculty of Medicine at the university, who leads the project, explained that the second phase will feature monthly classes incorporating three components, My Health, My Law, Nature, Food and Hygiene.

The event kicking off the second phase was a tour around the campus of the university on February 21. Over 200 people took part.

The first class was conducted on February 28 on how to open an email account and use its functions, as they will be the main avenue of communication among members as the programme goes on.

While most migrant domestic workers are happy using Facebook for their daily communication with friends and family, Manio said it is not a formal way of communication with employers or any organisation.

He pointed out that Facebook has big limitations and, in addition, many people simply do not have an account.

He described the feedback from the 250 participants on day one as being really positive, with some saying that they never thought of opening an email account. 

Although others already had one, they did not know how to use all the functions, like including an attachment, carbon copy (cc) or blind carbon copy (bcc). 

The next event, scheduled for March 13, will be on sustainability and waste reduction. The afternoon talk that day will address the human body and common diseases.

Participants may need to put in a bit more effort to receive a certificate this time.

While the first phase only required attendance, the second phase will feature quizzes, projects and presentations. A certificate will be awarded only to those who meet a minimum requirement in all areas and have at least an 80 per cent attendance record.

Manio said the requirements are meant to help participants understand the value of the programme, while at the same time getting a taste of how studying at university feels.

The group projects and presentations will also foster group work ability and commitment among the participants.

He admitted that some people are not receptive to new ideas, but he told them during the orientation that they need to look more to what is new and upgrade their skills.

“The true mission of the programme is not to scare people off, but learn things the proper way,” he said.

Above all, he believes many migrant domestic workers have the potential to do better at learning and achieve more.


“We want them to be the best despite their status. We believe that while in Hong Kong they can learn new things that are relevant and meaningful to them. When they come home, they can tell their friends that they did not only clean the house while in Hong Kong, but also learned at the University of Hong Kong,” he said.

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