Their stories are well documented and their presence cannot be ignored by their sheer number.
But for the most part, Hong Kong domestic helpers are invisible in their own surroundings.
Filmmakers Joanna Bowers and Tony Verb think they shouldn’t be.
They’re planning to produce a documentary, called The Helper, which will pay tribute to these women and highlight their lives.
The film will explore the individual stories of the women who sing in The Unsung Heroes, a choir made up of domestic helpers.
It will follow these women as they prepare to leave their homes thousands of miles away in the Philippines and Indonesia to travel to Hong Kong and the everyday adversity they face in their jobs.
In parallel, the film will document choir members as they rehearse for Hong Kong’s largest music and arts festival, Clockenflap, where they will sing about their untold stories of sacrifice on a global stage.
An overwhelming majority of the 330,000 migrant domestic helpers in Hong Kong are mothers.
“The Helper is a tribute to migrant domestic workers and will show the maternal sacrifice they make through the perspective of individual helpers, their own children, and the children they help to raise in Hong Kong,” Bowers said.
Tony, and Grammy Award winner Steve Sidwell will direct the Unsung Heroes’ live performance.
Everything hinges on a fundraising campaign to get the the documentary off the ground.
The crowdfunding effort was launched on Kickstarter on Aug. 17.
Donations start at US$5 and offer a number of gifts for individuals who are instrumental to making the documentary.
These gifts include an invitation to The Helper premiere and co-producer credits.
“Ideally, we hope we can change the way in which these hardworking ladies are perceived by giving them a platform and highlight their very real stories to the world,” Verb said.
About 51 percent of the profit from the documentary will go to non-governmental organisations that serve the interest of migrant domestic workers.
These are PathFinders, an organisation that helps vulnerable children of migrant domestic helpers born in Hong Kong; Mission for Migrant Workers which provides services to Asian migrants; and Enrich, a group that trains foreign domestic workers on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and communications.
– Contact us at [email protected]