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Group that never says ‘no’ to migrants in need appeals for cash aid

09 April 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao  

Migrant workers can join Mission's online anniversary gala this Sunday, for only $30 

Mission for Migrant Workers, a Church-based charity that is the succor and refuge of distressed foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with an appeal for financial help.

The MFMW says it needs at least $200,000 a month to continue operating and maintain the level of assistance that it is extending to a growing number of clients. 


The economic stagnation that stems from the prolonged coronavirus crisis that began early last year is having an impact on possibly every Hong Kong home, thus directly affecting the migrant helpers who are employed by those families.

Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, general manager of the Mission, said funding from their long-term corporate supporter and a smaller corporate sponsor for events that has come aboard lately could not meet all its financial requirements. Thus, the Mission has decided to tap local donors for additional funding.


Tellez said the number of workers who have sought help since Covid-19 began has increased hugely. Last year alone, she said, around 2,000 stranded or displaced migrant workers sought help from Mission.

Tellez says the Mission helped some 2,000 migrant workers amid the pandemic

They included workers who were summarily fired by employers; those abandoned by bosses who had gone home to China and other places without formally dismissing them, and those who failed to find new employers and could not get a flight home.

Pindutin para sa detalye

“An additional 2,600 migrants sent inquiries through our center phones, emergency hotline number, and messages through email, website and social media accounts even after office hours,” MFMW said in an anniversary letter posted to supporters.

Tellez said on Apr 7 on “The SUN Interviews” online show that in the latter part of the Mission’s 40 years of service, an average of 1,000 migrant workers had sought their help. She reckoned that the number tabs on cases the NGO is currently handling are now in the 21,000 range.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Tellez said distressed workers approach the Mission for a range of problems, from shelter to visa extension cost, to labor claims against their employers and many other issues, and the charity group has always found ways to help them.

“Those who our two shelters can’t accommodate we refer to other shelters, or we send them to boarding houses that we rent for them,” said the Mission head.

Tellez with Erwiana, who was helped by the Mission to file cases vs her abusive employer

“Sometimes we ask them if they need money for their expenses and help them. We don’t say no to anyone,” said Tellez, who helped set up the Mission in 1981. Back then, there were only about 10,000 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong, but they were already facing many challenges.

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There was another shelter at the time run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, but it closed down after its house mother went to Canada, Tellez said.

As a young social worker in the Philippines, Tellez was sent by religious groups to Hong Kong in 1980 to look into the possibility of extending help to the growing number of Filipino migrant workers there.

Three months after she submitted her report, she was asked to move to Hong Kong to work on the project she suggested, which included setting up a shelter for distressed migrants. She agreed, but on the condition that she would move here with her husband and three young kids.

The displaced or stranded workers are apart from newly arrived workers in mandatory 21-day hotel quarantine who appeal for food, water, clothing and other basic needs they can’t obtain in isolation or couldn’t afford to buy before flying to Hong Kong.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong 

Tellez said its volunteers respond to SOS calls from those in hotel quarantine, delivering packs of food and other stuff to them. Sometimes, the Mission taps other community groups to help out in this activity.

Mission staff assist workers left stranded when their flight to Manila was cancelled

Recently, the NGO approached the Consulate to ask for help in meeting the needs of distressed OFWs, especially those who lack shelter.

Tellez said Consul General Raly Tejada agreed to the idea and a working committee that included the Consulate, the Mission, Philippine Overseas Labor Office, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and some Filcom leaders was formed to address this issue.

Covid-19 has drastically increased the workload of the workers, such as ensuring higher household cleaning and hygiene requirements, as well as cooking for the family when dine-in was banned, and helping their wards in online learning at home.

As a result, more than 90% suffered from long working hours, with 7 out of 10 working 11 hours a day and 3 out of 10 working over 16 hours. Due to social restrictions, 1 out of 2 workers seeking help say they either don’t get regular rest days or work on that day, the MFMW said.

As the MFMW celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, the organization said it would continue to help the workers fight for their basic rights, such as providing them decent accommodation, regular rest days, better treatment and to combat contract violations.

The NGO complements the struggle by educating and training volunteers via online seminars, who in turn extend the knowledge that they received to fellow workers, especially those who are in need.

Those who wish to donate directly may check this website:

Or you may use the Mission's QR Code here:

You may also transfer money to their TNG account:



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