Etchos lang ang title. Here is the real story:
They say charity starts at home but it can also go TO a home. Especially to those without one.
Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge is a temporary shelter for domestic helpers in distress. It is a charitable institution that not only houses but provides a home for those who have no place to stay while they have ongoing cases in HK.
You see, migrants who have filed cases against their employers are not allowed to work for the duration of their case. Length of case resolution varies from three months for simple labor matters to years for the more complicated ones such as rape and physical abuse.
So the obvious question is: how can one survive while the justice system takes its time to decide?
Back in the 80's, the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) has already noticed such a problem when they saw DHs with terminated contracts sleeping in parks or under footbridges and flyovers. Thus they created the Alternative Shelter Scheme – which, for a painfully obvious reason, took the acronym ASHES instead - wherein individual friends of the Mission take in and host homeless DHs for a particular period of time.
But it came to a point wherein those in need could not be accommodated by MFMW friends anymore. There were just too many of them compared to the number and capacity of those people willing to open their homes to strangers. Thus the Bethune House was born in 1986.
Currently, Bethune House has 50 residents though there are only 20 beds. As one of its volunteers said, you can't put them away when they knock on your gates lugging their striped bags and other belongings.
While its main service is giving food and a roof, Bethune House also does paralegal assistance to its residents. There are also volunteers who give seminars and trainings from basic Cantonese to cooking.
Though Bethune House is in HK, it doesn't mean that it is drowning in funds. Charity for the migrants is not that popular for the biggie foundations here. So Bethune House has to approach churches, women's organizations, migrant's groups and kind-hearted individuals for its sustained operations. It ain't a stroll in the park to raise about HK$12,000 for food alone in a month.
Thus, the above invitation to celebrate its anniversary together with an auction for charity. To be auctioned off are paintings like Kik's portrait that takes cubism as inspiration or my own face painted as abstract art. Kidding! Some Filipino HK-based artists have contributed their works for the auction while others are still being wooed to do so.
Ok, so this post is not really a story but an appeal for support to the shelter - attendance, donations, spreading this invitation, contributing an item for auction like your grandma's false teeth, or any other thing you can think of.
The real stories are in the shelter and its residents. Stories of travails, happiness and yes, even inspiration.
If you want to hear the stories, join the HK-wide Search for Ms. Charity on September 20. And yeah, it's tax-deductible and tax-free.