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Enrich graduates increase

22 March 2017

The graduates proudly wave their certificates, in a photo op with guests (from left): Isabelle Ensarguet, Chair of the Board, Enrich; Jalilo dela Torre, Philippine Labor Attache; Bernardita Catalla, Philippine Consul General; Bapak Tri Thatyat from Indonesian Consulate; Tim Carey, Director of Enrich; Lenlen Mesina, Executive Director of Enrich and Maggie Lee, Professor from the Depapartment of Sociology at HKU. 

By Cris Cayat

Enrich, one of the leading financial education providers for migrant workers in Hong held its second graduation ceremony on Mar 12 at Hong Kong University, with 105 Filipino and 60 Indonesian women receiving certificates of completion.

The graduates completed 28 hours of Enrich’s financial and empowerment seminars.

This year’s graduates were nearly three times more than last year’s batch, which numbered 65.

Keynote speaker, Eni Lestari, chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance, spoke of the role of Enrich in transforming migrants’ lives so they are able to achieve their goal of having a progressive future.
She said her fellow migrant workers need to plan their goals based on their capacity, and ensure that the family they left behind learn to manage the money that they send.

Lestari said that the money that migrants earn here is very symbolic because it shows their desperation to earn, despite facing many struggles and having to cope with the separation from their families.

Speaking for the graduates, Liezl Mercado recalled how her enthusiasm for learning prevailed over the hardships she had to face. She said that the challenges made her even more determined to pursue her goals.

Using her own money, she took driving lessons and eventually got a license that helped her become more financially secure. She also continues to learn culinary skills in the hope of putting up her own restaurant when she returns to the Philippines soon.

Mercado said the free Lunch and Learn investment seminars of Enrich taught her how to put into action the knowledge she gained in preparing her own business plan.

She quipped that “I was much more interested at first in the free lunch” but later realized how important it was that she was learning something valuable.

Apart from the knowledge she acquired from Enrich, Mercado said she feels doubly blessed because the NGO has helped her secure a job on her return home as a trainer at a training center for departing OFWs in Manila.
Consul General Bernardita Catalla was there to applaud the graduates and laud Enrich for its mission to empower migrants.

“What Enrich does is to ferry us to return to our respective families, to our countries, so that we can help develop our own communities,” Catalla said

She was quick to counsel migrant workers that it is not being selfish not to send everything that their families back home want. But at the same time, they must not spend all that they earn on themselves; instead they should save for their future needs.

“Be willing to focus and train your sights on the future, she advised.

Given the number of migrants graduating, Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre said he was hopeful of a positive impact on their lives by the Enrich programs.

He cited the successful collaboration between Enrich and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office together with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and said he is looking forward for more such ties in the future.

Enrich executive director Lenlen Mesina advised the graduates to create a timeline of their stay in Hong Kong so they can better prepare for their return home.

“Knowing that we are not staying here forever, we should follow our goals in our time line,” said Mesina. “Remember, our theme is ‘empowered to achieve’ “.

She also said it is important for migrants to be on the same page with their family members when they plan so the targets are achieved on time.

Enrich supporter Sunil Kasyap gave a quick launch of a new mobile app for migrants to track down their expenses. It is hoped the app will serve as a reminder to migrants, and will supplement Enrich’s money wise workshop.

Also present were representatives from the Indonesian Labor office who gave inspirational talks and extended best wishes to the Indonesian graduates.

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