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The SUN contributor shines as Resolve 2019 Fellow

12 November 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap
Image may contain: 2 people, including Marites Palma, people smiling, people standing
Palma with Resolve founder and CEO Victoria Otero
  
Filipina domestic worker Marites Palma, a longtime contributor of The SUN, has received special mention for her output as one of this year’s fellows of Resolve Foundation, which aims to nurture leaders among marginalized groups in Hong Kong.

Palma joined 19 other Resolve Fellows from diverse backgrounds at recognition rites held on Nov 9 at The Hive in Sheung Wan, to mark the end of the year-long program which focused this year on ending gender-based violence (GBV).

The 2019 Resolve Fellows. Hidalgo (in black) stands beside Palma
Palma, who is known as “Tekla” among people at the non-government organization, was cited for having started a Facebook group called Social Justice for Migrant Workers, which has been providing help to distressed Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.

She started the group only five months ago, halfway through her Resolve Fellowship, but it has now more than 2,800 followers and is run with the help of some of her friends who act as co-administrators.
More importantly, it has extended help to migrant workers in a number of emergency cases, either through referrals to concerned agencies, or by direct intervention.

Devi Novianti of Equal Opportunities Commission who acted as Palma’s mentor in the Fellowship, said that if social responsibility was to be used as a measure of achievement in the program, the Filipina helper was “way up there.”
Novianti with Palma

“Tekla works very long hours, but with the remaining hours that she has, she helps her fellow migrant workers in Hong Kong, and (even) family members of her fellow migrant workers,” said Novianti.

“It’s really a humbling experience to be your mentor, it’s amazing what you do.”

Palma says she plans to educate her fellow migrant workers about GBV through social media and workshops as her five-year social justice goal.
One other Filipina domestic worker made it to this year’s roster of fellows in the highly selective program. Lee Ahn Hidalgo plans to use her photography skills in documenting GBV among various groups in Hong Kong, not just migrant workers.

Another fellow, a PhD student in law, is half-Filipina and half-Chinese. Shelley Leung, who was represented by her parents at the ceremony because she had already left for her studies in Britain, said in her composite profile that she plans to remain active in the human rights community wherever she may be.

The fellows also include Kristine, a local lawyer who extends legal help to anti-government protesters; Ali, an asylum seeker who has just won a scholarship grant at the University of Hong Kong; Ming, a transgender medical student who plans to extend help to her peers once she becomes a full-fledged doctor; and many other social activists keen to put their Resolve experience to good use in the future.
Resolve founder and CEO Victoria Wisniewski Otero said that each year, fellows are asked to focus on an issue relating to social justice as theme. Last year, it was racial equality and inclusion. This year, gender-based violence was chosen because of figures showing its high prevalence in Hong Kong.

The local NGO, Rainlilly, for example, found that one out of seven women in Hong Kong has experienced sexual violence. A United Nations study also showed Hong Kong, along with Japan, has the highest rate of female homicide victims, at 52.9%.

She said fellows are asked to draw up a five-year social justice goal, then “assess where they are in that journey.” With help from mentors, they are then helped to plan how they can go from one point in that journey to the next.

But beyond providing them lessons on rights and inclusion, leadership and public speaking, fellows are also given tips on how they can mobilize resources and use existing networks to pursue their projects and goals.

“In the long term, we seek to contribute towards increased well-being of marginalized communities, more inclusive public attitudes and improved policy and legislation,” said Otero in her printed welcome message at the event.

“We do this by investing in people – which is always the starting point and driver of transformative social change.”

Those who want to know more about Resolve, or are interested in applying as one of their fellows for next year, may check their website: https://www.resolvehk.org/


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