The Help

It was a lazy Saturday for me, and I’m perfectly okay with that! I watched two movies today, Contagion and The Help. Both were completely different movies, though both were thought-provoking. Hong Kong has been a hot spot for viral scares in recent years, and Contagion clearly reflected it in spite of being a fictitious movie. I don’t think there’s a way for me to really prepare for such an epidemic, so I think I’ll just accept my fate and do my best to survive if that time comes. I’d rather not live in paranoia while I’m perfectly healthy.

The crazy take-away from Contagion: Humans touch their faces between 2,000 and 3,000 times per day. Whoa.

'Concrete Picnic' photo (c) 2007, J Aaron Farr - license: much as I liked Contagion, I was way more impacted by The Help. I was stirred inwardly (slightly more manly way of saying I was a touch emotional) by the struggles that the women went through. Racial conflict ran so deeply for so many years in the United States that it’s no wonder many citizens still have problems to this day.

Even though race is a still a hot topic in the US, I’m quite surprised that it’s not talked about more in Hong Kong. In fact, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a book or movie written in a similar fashion to The Help, but based in Hong Kong. I’m pretty sure there are almost 300,000 helpers living in HK. That’s about 4% of the current population, and a huge percentage of people who’s story is not getting told.

'IMG_1235' photo (c) 2008, Ines Yeh - license:’m not the expert by any means, but I know many of the helpers in Hong Kong are not treated well, particularly by the local Chinese population. Though there are helpers from many backgrounds, most are primarily Filipino and Indonesian. And although so many are well-educated, their respective countries are rather poor and have fewer job opportunities than a place like Hong Kong. For example, a trained teacher or nurse from the Philippines or Indonesia often earns MORE money as a helper in Hong Kong. That is crazy and messed up.

In spite of so many well-educated helpers who are simply trying to squeeze out a respectable living and lifestyle, they are regularly looked down upon, viewed as inferior, and often mistreated. Even their living spaces are as small as their salaries. For more details, check out this well-written blog entry, Maid in Hong Kong.

I hope that someday the HK helpers’ stories will be told and widespread change will occur to improve their treatment and conditions. In the meantime, I hope that I can personally be moved to be kind and outgoing to the helpers here. I know I’m not an instigator of oppression, but I also hope I can be an instigator of change for at least a few helpers, even if in small ways.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18


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