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Bethune House urgently needs help to raise $600k for expenses

27 August 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Bethune House does not get government support in providing for the needs of migrant workers in distress

Bethune House, a refuge for distressed migrant women workers, is urgently trying to raise $600,000 until the end of this year to cover its operational expenses.

The shelter operated by the Mission for Migrant Workers, a church-based charity, is again in dire straits because of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has made fund-raising difficult for nongovernmental organizations.

Bethune’s two shelters, one in Sheung Wan and the other in Jordan, are now full with 17 distressed domestic workers who have either been fired, are pursuing labor claims against their bosses, have pending cases in court, or are ill and undergoing medication.

The charity is also supporting five other terminated helpers who are chasing their employers but are staying in hostels because there is no more space in the shelter.

“Hirap kaming mag-fund raising dahil limited ang opportunity sa mga fund-raising activities dahil sa pandemic. Kaya may emergency appeal kami ngayon,” said Edwina Antonio, executive director of Bethune House.

The emergency appeal started in August and received a boost from Bethune House’s inclusion in the #BridgeTheGap HK campaign, a fund-raising endeavor by a group of charitable foundations and private entities to address the funding shortfall.


#BridgeTheGap was launched after a May 2020 survey by Hong Kong Council of Social Service of 110 non-subvented NGOs showed 89% of them have funding shortfalls of $100,000 or more from April to September 2020. Of those who need immediate help,  half said they have six months or less of cash reserves.

Antonio explained that every $1 donation to a chosen charity, say, Bethune House, will be doubled or matched by the participating foundations.
Antonio (with glasses) juggles raising funds for the shelter with ensuring the safety and comfort of her wards 
She said the economic impact of Covid-19 has forced others in the NGO sector to streamline. But streamlining is difficult for Bethune because its beneficiaries are people, including cancer patients and those with court cases.
Antonio said her wards who can’t work while their cases are unresolved or are too weak to do so, need to be fed and assisted in their various problems.

She said Bethune is still reaching out to big-hearted donors to achieve the shelter’s fund-raising target by December.

With both its shelters full, Antonio said Bethune has stopped admitting new wards in the meantime due to the government’s social distancing protocol to help halt the contagion.
She said the shelter continues to appeal for food, masks and toiletries, while it allows its wards go out, especially if they need to follow up their cases, as well as to pick up goods at the groceries and markets.

Bethune has also resumed its collection of daily meal donations from sandwich shop Pret ả Manger, a regular donor to the charity for the past several years.


“Mahalaga na sa pagbalik ng bawat isa ay naliligo agad at inilalagay sa plastic ang maruming damit kung di muna malalabhan dahil walang sampayan,” Antonio said.

Other safety measures in the house include requiring everyone to wear a mask all the time and to maintain cleanliness, especially in the toilet and kitchen, she said.
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