Amahs in Hong Kong & Relief Effort for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Kim Minichiello

 This is a view of just a tiny portion of Hong Kong where I lived.  Imagine there is likely an amah in each apartment in these towers.

There are things you don’t know about places in the world until you visit or live there.  One such thing is how important an amah is to some citizens in Hong Kong.  When we knew we were moving to Hong Kong, I had a few people ask me if I was going to get an amah while we were there.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  It wasn’t until we were looking for apartments some furnished and some not, that in every one there was a very small room, and a separate small bathroom for live in amahs.

An amah is a live in domestic helper whose duties involve everything for taking care of a household and beyond:  cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, taking care of children, taking children to school, and even washing cars and carrying golf cubs.  You name it they do it.  Many become permanent members of the family and are with them for years.  In some families, they are loved like family members and in some are treated more like employees.  I didn’t have an amah while living in Hong Kong but got to know a few of them in my building and while shopping in our local market.

Sunday is their only day off and Hong Kong transforms itself on this day when all the amahs meet each other in parks, and line the sidewalks of major streets with blankets. They visit, have picnics, sing, dance, play cards and enjoy themselves.  It literally feels like a crowd lining up for a major parade.  The noise in the air is so intriguing with a mix of their native language, music and laughter.

The majority of the amahs in Hong Kong are women from the Philippines.  Many leave their own families, including their children,  behind  to be cared for by family members in order to earn more money in Hong Kong to support them.  With the recent devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, many still don’t know if family members are still alive or safe.

 

www.kimminichiello.comHong Kong Happy Hour, Limited Edition Print Available on My Web Site

I would like to invite you to help in any way that you can support the relief effort for those in the Philippines!  I will be donating a portion of the proceeds for all sales of prints and note cards on my web site for this relief effort through the Red Cross for the rest of this month and December.  You can visit my print shop on my web site by clicking here.  You can also make donations directly to the Red Cross relief effort by clicking here.

Thank you for your interest in my work and your support!

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