HEALTH CRISIS SPARKS UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG NON-RESIDENT WORKERS Pastoral Care lends a helping hand to migrants in need

Marco Carvalho

Hundreds of Filipino workers have lost their jobs since the end of January, when the local Government announced a series of contingency measures with the aim of curbing the spread of the new coronavirus. The Center for Pastoral Care for Filipino Migrants has been providing material and spiritual assistance to dozens of people that remain stuck in Macau with little or no money.

The Macau Government is negotiating with the Hong Kong authorities for the lifting of some of the restrictions that were adopted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but for many non-resident workers the gradual adoption of relief measures might come already too late: “Many people have lost their jobs, especially domestic helpers, those working in hotels or those working in the casinos. The companies were forced to terminate them, because they have no income. I can confirm that many of them lost their job,” Father Ryan June Real told O Clarim.  “In fact, some of them are already in the Philippines. Some of them still remain here because of the lockdown. They can no longer go home because there are no flights, so they remain in Macau as tourists,” the young priest added.

Unable to provide the kind of financial support that many of the affected workers need, the Center for Pastoral Care for Filipino Migrants has been working directly with the Philippine Consulate General in Macau in order to address some of the most pressing issues and situations: “The Philippine Government gave them a small amount of money, around two hundred dollars, so that they can survive. This money is being offered especially to those that lost their job and do actually need that money. The Filipino Government has been channeling this money through the Consulate and the Consulate will distribute the money among those in need, as long as they fulfill certain conditions,” Father Real said.

Despite having no means to help in a more pragmatic and substantial way, the Pastoral Care for Filipino Migrants gave, on three occasions, milk to those members of the Filipino community that face a more precarious situation: “We distributed milk that was offered to Father Jojo. He sent us this milk and Father Oliver, who is responsible for Social Action, commissioned a group of people to distribute this support,” Father Ryan June Real explained. “The milk was distributed to more than a hundred people. We have already distributed it on three occasions. Last time we had more than three hundred packages of milk – large and small – to offer,” the missionary of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity told O Clarim.