It recently occurred to me that I’m not sure if I’ve discussed exactly what I do here and the various organizations that I work with in HK. So here’s hopefully some insight that will clarify things:
Officially, I work at the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), however, I also am heavily involved with two organizations here in HK: the Mission for Migrant Workers and Bethune House.
The Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) is a sister organization to APMM. MFMW provides a walk-in center for migrants in distress. They receive anywhere form 10-70 clients per day. These clients are foreign domestic workers from primarily the Philippines and Indonesia who have experienced labor violations and would like to file a claim a labor tribunal. Most of the claims involve over charging by employment agencies, underpayment of wages or non-payment of wages, and unfair termination. Volunteers, staff, and interns help these clients fill out paperwork, determine the amount of their claim, accompany them to labor tribunal, the agency or the police station if needed. My fellow MI and apartment-mate, Beth, is a case worker here.
APMM and MFMW also run a shelter for migrants named Bethune House (BH). If a client of MFMW requires a place to stay, she can stay at BH. Most women stay for about a month at the shelter, and most cases involve the same labor violations listed above. However, some experience extreme emotional, physical or sexual abuse and decide to pursue these cases in a criminal court. The shelter has two locations in HK and can hold about 35 women at maximum capacity.
Since APMM serves as a regional center for migration, part of our goal is to assist local migrant organizations, so our staff will assist MFMW in certain projects and activities. We also work closely with the local migrant labor unions and grassroots organizations offering assistance where needed.
My work as a “research and advocacy” intern generally looks like this: I do research about various topics. I spent most of my first five months here conducting research about global migration patterns, and writing/editing articles for our forthcoming book Global Migration Report 2013. Currently, I am assisting with planning for a conference on marriage migration in June. I also step in where I am needed much like the staff here generally. In terms of advocacy, I spend every Sunday with a migrant organization to learn about the lives of migrants. I also attend protest events and various activities relating to a variety of issues. For example, my participation in the One Billion Rising campaign was part of my advocacy work. My advocacy work generally includes any campaign that aims to improve the lives of migrants.
Hopefully, this explanation provides some clarity and understanding to the question: “what does advocacy mean?” and “why do you always talk about so many organizations?”