CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Asian Youth Day is a call to intercultural living

HONG KONG (SE): The priest who led the Hong Kong delegation to Asian Youth Day in Indonesia, Father Anthonius Reynolds Balubun, said he hopes that the experience for the young people who made the journey will enable them to better accept different cultures after their return home.
Father Balubun, an Indonesian who has been in Hong Kong for nine years, told the Kung Kao Po before the Asian Youth Day that he hoped he can help young people to know more about the culture of Indonesia, an Islamic majority nation.
However, he also pointed out that it is not necessary to travel to another country for young people to learn about other cultures, as there are numerous people from other lands living in their own backyards.
Father Balubun added that he hopes that having been granted a privileged visit to Indonesia the group will pay more attention to the Indonesian community living and working in the city, which he describes as being made up of business people and their families, as well as the more numerous domestic workers.
At present, the pastoral needs of the Indonesian Catholics are taken care of by the Indonesian chaplaincy. A Mass is celebrated in Indonesian at Christ the King Chapel every Sunday and in addition, two are celebrated at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos in Central every month.
Father Baluban said Indonesian Catholics in Hong Kong actively take part in different religious activities, while parishes often invite them to put on performances to encourage them to get involved in parish life.
He strongly encourages the Indonesian workers to spend more time at prayer, join Church activities and attend Mass, which he said he believes can help relieve their homesickness.
He explained that he often refers workers with employment problems to social workers where necessary.
Westley Man Siu-chun, a social worker from the Caritas Asia Migrant Workers Social Service Project, said both Hong Kong employers and Indonesian workers need to understand more about each other’s culture in order to form better relationships to ease the tension that arise from the variance in everyday customs, eating habits and religious practices.
She pointed out that she has heard of workplace disagreements happening due to the employer’s lack of understanding of the customs of the holy Islamic fast of Ramadan, which the Indonesian employee follows faithfully.
She has also heard that some employers ask their employees to work on their day off, offering to pay extra in lieu of the legal demand of an alternative day off within a few days.
However, she said that she does not believe that this is good employment practice, as the denial of holidays only wears people down in the long term.
Man believes that Indonesian workers have received better treatment in Hong Kong in recent years, but they still run into difficulties with social integration.
She has heard that some Indonesian workers have been turned away when they tried to use the facilities at a clubhouse, because their employers did not accompany them to the rest room.
She hopes that people from different religions and nationalities can be respected, rather than discriminated against.
Father Balubun believes that the young people who ventured to Indonesia for Asian Youth Day would do well to come to understand these frustrations, as they are a local example of the difficulties of intercultural living.

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