“I find my work both challenging and frustrating but am encouraged when the decision of the labor or immigration department or the court is in favor of our client.”
Sister Joseph Lourdes Nubla is a volunteer at the Mission for Migrant Workers, a charitable institution which was established in Hong Kong in 1981 under the auspices of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. It was formed “to empower migrant workers to promote their rights and welfare and to take charge of their own development.”
Backed by the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic churches, the Mission deals with personal and legal cases through what they call “crisis intervention.” Clients include migrant workers in Hong Kong, many of whom are domestic workers and have roots in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other countries. Among the most common problems they face are physical and sexual abuse, worker status issues, and outright termination without pay or underpayment.
Sister Joseph Lourdes is an official interpreter and translator of statements. She accompanies clients to the immigration and labor departments, court, or to their present and former employer, if necessary. Another duty is to arrange employers for clients and to screen both parties. If a client needs housing, the referral can be to refuge houses.
Sister Joseph Lourdes was born in Manila, the Philippines, and she attended Holy Ghost and Maryknoll Colleges there, entering the Maryknoll Sisters in New York in 1960. In 1964, Sister Joseph Lourdes was assigned to the Hong Kong-Taiwan Region. After language study in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, Sister Joseph Lourdes worked in Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital (Hong Kong) as supervisor of the purchasing department and director of the fund-raising department. She has also served as part-time secretary for Archbishop Dominic Tang, S.J., and has done secretarial work for the PIME Fathers.
On free days, the migrant workers gather to celebrate their cultural feasts, to share food from their own countries, and to talk in their own languages, and Sister Joseph Lourdes is among them. As someone said very well, “The Mission exists to help the migrants here, but the Mission will not shy away from reminding the Philippine government that it must keep working to make this migration unnecessary. In the end, a better life for our workers depends on policies made back home.