Hidden Narratives: Portraits of Resilience in Hong Kong’s Migrant Domestic Helper Community

The migrant domestic workers began arriving in Hong Kong in the 1970s as the city was transitioning from a manufacturing hub into a modern financial center. Today, they constitute a significant population of nearly 400,000, predominantly women from the Philippines and Indonesia, making up 10% of the territory’s labor force. These individuals often endure long working hours, a lack of privacy, and even instances of possible abuse. Despite these challenges, most of the foreign workers demonstrate resilience and optimism, embodying the indomitable human spirit and finding joy and meaning amidst adversity.

As a fine art photographer, I am fascinated by their leisure activities. On rare holidays, many domestic helpers seize the opportunity to pursue self-improvement, learn new skills, or engage in part-time work to save funds for their entrepreneurial inspirations or retirement. Their unwavering diligence, dedication, and resourcefulness are truly inspiring as they endeavor to build a better life not only for themselves but also for their families back home.

In addition to their demanding work schedules, foreign helpers also enjoy a vibrant and diverse social life. They dress their best and actively participate in various gatherings, finding solace in companionship and forming meaningful connections. They have built a community that provides support and encouragement to one another. My work captures the essence of their camaraderie, shared laughter, and friendships. They are not merely laborers but devoted mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives, silently shaping a brighter future for all.

This exhibition unveils the extraordinary journey of these groups, highlighting their cheerfulness and vitality. Although their individual experiences may differ, they all embody love, dignity, and perseverance. While they adapt and strive for a fulfilling life, they have a profound impact on the economic development of our city.

Through this series of candid images, my aim is to foster a sense of shared humanity and inclusivity, deepening our understanding of migrant domestic helpers in Hong Kong. The audience is encouraged to contemplate our collective responsibility towards marginalized communities. By recognizing their inherent value and celebrating their positive contributions, we can create a more compassionate and equitable society.

Download Lumenvisum’s Exhibition Newsletter (PDF)

上世紀七十年代,香港從一個製造業中心轉型為現代金融中心的時候, 開始輸入外籍家庭傭工。時至今日,她們的人口接近四十萬,佔本地勞動市場十分之一,主要是來自菲律賓和印尼的婦女。她們經常面對工作時間長、缺乏私隱,甚至可能遭受僱主虐待等問題。然而,大部份外傭都抱着樂觀的態度,展現出堅毅不屈的精神,在逆境中尋找快樂和意義。





Exhibition Period: Aug 20 – Sep 24, 2023
Venue: Lumenvisum, L2-2, JCCAC, 30 Pak Tin St, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am-1 pm & 2 pm – 6 pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays.


Exhibition Portfolio (Click on thumbs to view full images)

Portrait Series (Images 1 - 9)