We’re all equal. NOT.

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When our previous helper left us to go back home and re-marry, she introduced her friend to us, one who was very eager to work for us. In fact, all of her friends wanted to work for us because we're fair to our helpers. Apparently, many Hong Kong people aren't.

The new helper has proven to be great to have around. She has no problems with our dogs, loves to take them on their walks; even though it requires three trips per walk, two walks per day; works consistently all day without any prompting and keeps our flat cleaner than our previous helper. All in all, we are lucky to have her.

She became sick a couple of days ago; vomiting, headache, dizziness. I took her to a doctor in a near-by clinic. The doctor; a youngish thin man with unbrushed long 60's type hair; said it was gastro-enteritis and prescribed vomit-suppression tablets and pain killers. He said that gastro-enteritis was virus related so taking antibiotics would not help. (antibiotics only kill bacteria. you knew that right?)

The next day after one day of rest, our helper was still just as sick with the same vomiting, nausea and headache symptoms, and one extra symptom; pain in the back of her neck. I took her back to the clinic and we saw a different doctor because the first doctor wasn't in. This doctor; a more doctor-like late twenties early thirties lady; told us that the virus had entered our helper's intestinal region and she would need stronger medicine; including antibiotics (antibiotics? but… now I'm getting confused).

Today, our helper still hadn't recovered. We don't expect instant recovery. My wife had severe gastro-enteritis a few months ago and it took her four days in hospital with a drip and injected high-strength antibiotics to get her up and around again. We do however expect a little improvement each day. What was weird to my untrained eye was that lying down, our helper looked fine. She even felt fine. It was only when she sat up or stood up that the nausea and vomiting began.

I decided we needed better expertise on the matter and called my favourite doctor; someone who studied one year ahead of me at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia and excels at everything he does. He constantly amazes me. When he heard about the neck pain in combination with the other symptoms, a light turned on and he immediately suspected meningitis. Only a blood test would be able to confirm it.

Now the first thing that comes to mind is why didn't the second doctor at the clinic think of the same thing. Apparently, neck pain combined with headaches, nausea and fever (and no diarrhoea) are classic symptoms of meningitis. I always viewed cheap clinic doctors as being sub-class doctors with their multitudes of tablets and their cheap rates (admittedly one of my own perhaps unjustified prejudices). Where my favourite doctor charges a minimum of HK$500 per consultation and includes one or two high quality medicines, these other doctors charge HK$170 per visit and include five or six medicines. Who needs five or six medicines? It's pretty obvious that first, many of the patients expect more medicines (more is better, right?), and second, the medicine is low quality so more is needed to cover the various aspects of the sicknesses. Yesterday, a friend of mine; a local Hong Kong girl with a baby boy who occasionally needs to visit the doctor; said she never expects to get better quickly when she visits these doctors. The medicine seems to only be sufficient to prevent the illness from getting worse but that's it. I'm apparently not the only one who has this view of the cheap doctors.

(To be fair, the doctors may have been right. Our helper's symptoms could be related to lots of different ailments and illness. We won't know if they were right until later.)

So one call to my favourite doctor and we discover that our helper might have meningitis. Now while I try to care for everyone in our family equally, I admittedly don't want to spend money that I don't have to. To confirm meningitis, a blood test is needed and I know that getting that blood test at our favourite doctor's clinic would be expensive. The alternative was to book our helper into the local hospital. She's down there now waiting in Emergency with my sister-in-law.

One strange thing occurred during the conversation with my doctor. After explaining our helper's case to him and talking about the meningitis, he said with some degree of emotional charge "so what do you want? I can't tell you that there's nothing wrong with her.". Weird! To my mind, this could only mean that he occasionally gets requests from employers who want him to say that their helpers are faking their symptoms, don't need treatment and are in fact ok to work. That's a sad reflection of the state of helper racism and prejudice in Hong Kong.

When I called my wife to tell her about the possibility of meningitis and the need for our helper to stay in hospital, her first reaction was dismay and concern for our helper. Her second and almost immediate reaction was disappointment because there would be no-one to perform normal household duties and because we'd need to care for our helper. My wife is a great person; she really is; but she grew up in an environment where helpers are treated as work objects. Her family never had helpers because they could never afford them, but many of the people working with her have helpers including one of her best friends and that's where the problem is.

One of my wife's friends and one of my wife's sisters living in another part of Hong Kong both treat helpers like slaves. They expect the helpers to work full speed all day long, listen to their every demand, never make mistakes, never take holidays, and never expect any niceties. My wife's friend already thinks my wife is wrong because we pay our helper full wages and give her all of her legally required holidays. When she overhears that we might be placing our helper in hospital my wife is planning to cook congee for our helper, she looks at my wife with confusion and objection. Why would we do that? Why would we place our helper in hospital cook for our helper? Why should we care so much? The normal behaviour would be to get the cheapest medication available, keep her at home and preferably keep her working while she recovers.

Words are rarely spoken between my wife and her friend about these matters but the looks and feelings are clearly there and it affects my wife. The people around her make her feel inferior, weak and taken advantage of because she treats her helper as a human being, almost as an equal. For my wife, it's even more difficult because on the one hand, she faces these people; people who matter to her; who treat their helpers as inferiors, and on the other hand faces a husband who dislikes any sound, word or action from his family that portends to prejudice or unfair treatment of others. My wife is in a very difficult place.

My sister-in-law just called from the hospital. The doctor doesn't think it's meningitis. He's not even going to test for meningitis. I asked him over the phone if he would take responsibility if it turned out to be meningitis. He didn't like the comment because it questions his judgement. In turn, he indignantly expressed to me questioning curiosity that a doctor would diagnose meningitis from the symptoms. In his mind, headache, neck pain, nausea, fever and vomiting did not mean meningitis. We'll see. In the meantime, they're going to xray her neck to see if anything has been damaged physically. They won't be testing for meningitis. I hope he's right. If he's wrong, it may have dire consequences for our helper.

This whole situation shines light on two persistent problems in Hong Kong; the treatment of helpers by their employers, and the existence of low-quality private doctors when the government is trying to implement a new system to force more of the general population to seek private doctors rather than use the Out-patient and Emergency sections of the public hospitals. Both problems will be impossible to solve and difficult to improve.

I must clarify that I am not a perfect person. Like my wife and many others, I too would not like to see one of our helpers get pregnant requiring three months of paid pregnancy leave. It would be very inconvenient, both from a financial point of view and from a housework point of view. For this reason, many Hong Kong people including my wife and I are very wary of potential helpers who have never married or are developing relationships with a man either here or in their home country. Some Hong Kong people even worry when their helpers go home for holidays each year. It's impossible to know if they'll come back pregnant. I fully believe and understand that it's their right to have a family and raise children. Nevertheless, it would be very inconvenient if this were to happen during their time with us.

Sickness is entirely different. No-one wants to be sick and everyone should be entitled to treatment and rest while sick so as to recover as quickly as possible. There's nothing you can do when a helper gets sick, nothing except to accept the situation, realise that it's hopefully temporary and plan as best you can how to handle the housework that needs to be done while your helper is sick. The way some people view their helpers, I wonder how far they are from saying "put her down and get another one". Harsh? Exagerated? Unrealistic? Definitely, but look up the term 'genocide' and then tell me what you think.

I'm fortunate. My wife and her two sisters living with us have very similar attitudes to my own and that's something I treasure. Within this family, we'll look after each other. If our helper lives here, then she's part of the family; even if she is the hired help.

Update(Tues, November 8, 2005)

Our helper is back home. While the doctor and nurses were examining her, she was vomiting and crying from the headaches. My sister-in-law showed them the medicine she has been taking over the last two days which at least proves to them that we didn't take her to the Emergency ward without trying other venues of treatment first (something I'd like to talk about; perhaps later). While taking her pulse, her heart rate for a moment was only in the mid 30's which was quite a shock to the nursing staff, motivating the doctor to ask for several indepth tests including an ECG (electro-cardiograph) and blood tests. They also gave her injections to ease the pain and nausea.

All tests were negative. She doesn't have meningitis, but she doesn't have gastro-enteritis either. In fact, they don't know what's wrong with her. She has new pain killer and vomit-suppression medicine and is back here with us at home, resting. If she doesn't get any extreme headaches or nausea, she doesn't have to go back to the hospital until next Monday for a checkup.

And she has a doctor's slip giving her three days sick leave ;-)   We thought that was funny because we would never require her to work before she's recovered, and because I usually forget that we truly are her employers and not just her 'family'.

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24 Responses to “We’re all equal. NOT.”
  1. Winnie says:

    It is so nice to hear that you care so much about your helper. When I grew up in HK as a kid I heard all sorts of horrible things about these helpers, everything about them seems to be negative.

    But coming to Canada and actually working and interacting with people from the very same countries these helpers are from, has proven that they are just like us. They may speak another language and come from a different part of the world but that doesn't mean that we're better than they are. In fact I don't even think it's appropriate to categorize people in terms of "us" and "them".

    There are good people and bad people in this world. But that has nothing to do with where they come from. There are good people from every part of the world just as there are bad people from the same places. Unfair treatment to these helpers is really un-justisfied. I wish everyone could just imagine how things would have been without the helpers - only then would we appreciate all the work that they do.

    Hope your helper gets better very soon!

  2. firthette says:

    Hi Greg,

    Hope your helper is getting better from her meningitis like illness.

    I agree that most Hong Kong people think negatively of their helpers. While spending summer in Hong Kong this year, I met my uncle's family's new helper, who is from Indonesia. Once my uncle's helper had finished washing the dishes after dinner, she would come and sit beside us to watch tv in the evening. I would even chat with her when we were both free. Being a helper is just like any other occupation, and i think that they should have the respect of the family they are working for. Its like being a garbage man..... I was reading about the new season of the amazing race (its not being shown here yet...I'm not sure if you get to watch it in hong kong) and a father in one of the family teams is a garbage man, and the other teams in the first few episodes were degrading him... but now that that team is winning... I think they are thinking differently... I mean..what would we do without our garbos?? These people - helpers, garbos...or even strippers (reminding me of an australian reality series now showing called australian princess where one of the princesses to be was a dancer) because of different reasons maybe earning an income in a different occupation from us, but they are still people. Like Winnie, I also have met and am friends with people that are from the same countries as helpers.

    My uncle raised one important point about his previous helpers though, and why he didnt give his current helper as much days off. He said his previous helper, on her day off, mingled with the wrong group, who would teach her to steal things from his family. Ultimately, this helper was sacked, and with this helper, the family limits her days off, in hope that she will not mingle around the wrong group.

    By the way, I too had some meningitis like illness while in Hong Kong this summer. I went to the doctor (those cheap doctors), and she gave me 7 different medicines to my horror. I agree that most of these were just cheap counter tablets like Panadol, so it did take another few days to fully recover. But it seems every time I'm in Hong Kong I would get sick... and because I dont have a family doctor there I dont know a good doctor to go to.

    Maybe Hong Kong people are too busy to come home and chat with their helper, let alone their children! My impression is that, after a long day of work, they dont want to think about anything, only hoping their house is clean and tidy, and dinner is on the table.

    Sorry about my random flow of thoughts ;-)

  3. Margaux says:

    Sorry I have to say there has been too much generalisation of this issue in this city.

    For many years, there are white people who live in HK, often comment a lot on how local people ill-treated their helpers. I do believe there are upsetting cases like that around us. However, I also find this saying is very much equivalent to that most white men with Asian wivies are simply having "Yellow Fever"!? I don't see how these statements can be justified.

    I worked for an American in a multinational company years ago. And I have to say he was the most terrible boss that I'd ever worked with in my whole career life so far. But I won't generalise and say most western are horrible to work with?

  4. 河國榮 says:

    Margaux,

    point taken but within the circle of people that I know, it is normal to expect the helper to work 16 to 18 hours a day and many people think we're doing them a favour by letting them work for us. I'm trying to think of friends or acquaintances who treat their helpers with more respect. I can think of one celebrity who treats their helpers well but that's about it.

    when I went to Indonesia to visit our previous helper, I received requests from at least eight of her friends to hire them so I think the problem of over-working and under-paying the helpers and demanding too much is probably pretty common.

    one Philippino helper we had told me a long time ago that the Philippino helpers prefer to work for caucasians. it was widely known that caucasians treated their helpers much better than the local asian people.

    on the other side of the coin, Indonesian helpers have told me that Indonesian helpers are better than Philippino helpers. supposedly, they work harder and play less. that would be very hard to substantiate although the Philippino helpers I've known were too ambitious to dedicate their minds and bodies to the housework. they were always trying to find new ways of making extra money; selling CDs, clothes, etc or working part time for other people. in terms of complex so called 'developed' thinking, Philippinos seem to be ahead of Indonesians at this time; generally speaking; ie, another broad statement.

    in other matters relating to helper abuse, a newspaper item published a few weeks ago reported on how helper agencies were colluding with finance companies to rip the helpers off. helper agencies were (and are still doing so) requiring large payments from the helpers. to cover it up, the finance companies would set up a personal loan account with the helper and the helper would have a significant part of their income deducted and deposited into the loan account every month. we're talking of figures of at least 50%. on the employer side of things, people here in HK hire Indonesian helpers over Philippino helpers for two reasons. First, many of them speak Cantonese. More importantly, many of the helper agencies will set it up so that the employer pays below the legal minimum wage, often as much as HK$1,000 off. if any of these helpers are getting ripped off from both the agency and the employer, they're truly in a bad situation, practically working for free.

    "yellow fever"? I've been married to my wife for 17 years. I must be terminally ill ;-)

  5. 河國榮 says:

    For the record, I've made a few changes to my article.

    A. My wife's friend's reaction was to my wife cooking congee for our helper, NOT to placing her in hospital. My wife told me of the error a short while ago. There's a very big difference between the two scenarios so I felt it had to be changed.

    B. The statement regarding "put her down, get a new one" was hopefully too extreme to be appropriate for the situation here in Hong Kong. I've deleted it.

  6. AmyChiew says:

    I think this issue is not only in Hong Kong but also in other Asian countries. But from my knowledge, the helpers in Hong Kong are a bit worse (I'm from Malaysia) because of the lack of space in accomodation.

    My family have helpers too and we have a room especially for her. But for those in Hong Kong, I heard that they sleep on floors because there are no extra room for them.

    As for the difference between Indonesian helpers and Philipino helpers, I can only say that Philipino helpers are much more smarter than Indonesian. Indonesian tends to be more naive (in a good way). At least this is the situation happening here in Malaysia.

    And of course we don't require them to learn Cantonese cos we can speak in Malay which is quite similar to their Indonesian language. As for the Philipino helpers, we speak to them in English. So Malaysia has always been the first place to train up the helpers before they move over to Hong Kong. So basically I think most of the Hong Kong helpers are well trained unless you get them directly from their home country while you visit your ex helper.

  7. Simon says:

    Could it be Meniere's Disease? (耳水不平衡)

    Meniere's Disease can come very suddenly with no apparant
    reasons, and it takes about a week of recovery. Not much
    treatment is really needed, but just plenty of rest, or
    maybe some anti-vomiting medicines.

  8. 河國榮 says:

    Simon, thank you for the suggestion but it's not Meniere's Disease. our helper has none of the ear symptoms.

  9. Daphne says:

    I guess sometimes peer influence and pressure cause us to react irrationally momentarily.

    Most of my friends are too afraid to take their maids to expensive restaurants in fear to pay for their portions. They have subjected themselves to misery as they cant leave their children alone with their maids at home while they dine away the evening with friends. Instead they stay home with them.

    To me, we are all equal. She works for us because she has a family to raise and care for back home. The same theory applies to us. We work for others because we need to accomplish our commitments.

    Visualize ourselves in their shoes ... maybe ppl will think twice before abusing them.

  10. Alison says:

    I think we should be nice to our helpers in general. However, I can relate to Bonnie's (Greg's wife)friend's reaction when she was preparing congee for the helper. I had a terrible experience with my previous Filipino helper. Despite there is only myself, my doggie n my helper in my household (and I work 12 hrs + a day and consistently travelling), she failed to keep my apartment and my dog clean and tidy. I normally return home for dinner at around 9pm or sometimes even later, she wld be no where near the kitchen. So often times, I wld end up cooking for myself and her. Since she has so much spare time and I am not home most of the time, she would spend most of her time talking on the phone and selling phone cards. She felt so comfortable around me that she would be talking on the phone for hours and closing her biz deals while I am home with her. To make my story short, it was a terrible nightmare and my kindness was being badly abused. I was quite heart broken about it. At the end, I have no choice but to fire her. I compensated her to the last cent and planned for her departure as nicely as possible. But she was still very bitter.

    Now, I have an Indonesian maid. I wld say she is not very smart. But I know she is really trying and she respects me. Keeping my fingers crossed, she is so far so good lah!

    I still believe we should treat people nicely and equally at all times. But shame on those who are trying to take advantage on kind people.

  11. sapphire says:

    >> The doctor doesn't think it's meningitis. He's not even going to test for meningitis. I asked him over the phone if he would take responsibility if it turned out to be meningitis. He didn't like the comment because it questions his judgment. In turn, he indignantly expressed to me questioning curiosity that a doctor would diagnose meningitis from the symptoms. >>

    To me, a good doctor is supposed to follow lab findings rather than his own intuition only. I know sometimes it’s easier said than done due to different countries’ healthcare systems. There’s no private healthcare service here. No matter rich or poor, we’re all under the same sky. (Same healthcare system)
    I’ve been suffering from GERD for years. Chances are strong acid can lead to esophageal ulcer, so, not long ago I requested my family doctor referring me to a gastroenterologist for a endoscopy check-up. He didn’t upset with my reasonable request. I know some doctors might take this request as a challenge to their professional jobs, but I take this as a patient’s right.
    Fortunately, my endoscopy result was negative. Although my GERD was not curable only controllable, my doctor was able to put my mind at ease. A good doctor not only knows how to relieve his patients’ pain or discomfort. His concern for the patients’ need is also crucial.

  12. Cindy says:

    Wow...i'm glad i'm in Canada with public health care and a family doctor I know I can trust.

    Hope your helper can find out what's wrong soon...

  13. Ailie says:

    I have read so many stories about how local employers, even good-paid ones, treated their helpers badly, and how those helpers treated their little masters badly, too.

    What I believe is, helpers treat your people as good (or bad) as how you treat them. As one of the posters mentioned, there are helpers who get along with some bad company, but in most cases, the abuse cases are just an cause and consequences thing.

    How can one expect a helper will treat their kids well when they just give them 10 packs of instant noodles for two weeks, or just a slice of bread for a day?

  14. Tonia says:

    看了文章及留言, 也同意 Winnie & Alison, 在家工作的helper也不只是人一個, 一份工作, 人也是有好與壞, 只要你分配的工作換轉你本人也親身能做到, (也包括一天之中休息的時段), 那她就能會事半功倍. 雖我未嘗試過與"住家佣工"相處過, 只有在帶女兒上學時與她們談過幾句(過去幾年), 她們給我的印象也很好, 照料小孩也不錯, 其中一個也覺得她的前一個僱主不懂得分配工作給她, 又說得不清楚(英文語言的問題), 領她"氹氹轉", 工作表現自然也不能使僱主"滿意". 而我也在請員工時(其他工種), 會清楚向他們講解工作量及時間. 那他/她就明白如何做, 免日後的爭議.

  15. sapphire says:

    I always beleive that whenever a dispute arises, that means both parties are wrong. It’s not fair to put the blame on either employer or employee only. Please don’t forget one thing…it takes two to tango.

  16. Arthur Heng says:

    So it turned out that your favourite doctor's right, haha.

    one Philippino helper we had told me a long time ago that the Philippino helpers prefer to work for caucasians. it was widely known that caucasians treated their helpers much better than the local asian people.

    I'd say this is generalizing. But oh well.

  17. 杜格拉斯 says:

    河生,你老婆o個Best friend喎,係你都唔好咁講佢,你老婆對住o個friend一家好尷尬。

  18. Vanesse says:

    I agree with you that it is very inhuman to force a sick person to work. Hope your helper will get well soon!

  19. Who is talking?? says:

    Singapore accused of maid neglect -- BBCNews Dec 6,2005

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) said domestic workers were overworked and frequently denied food, pay and social contact, as well as suffering physical abuse.

    Singapore's government said the report "grossly exaggerates" the situation.

    Maids working throughout South East Asia complain of abuse. HRW produced a similar report on Malaysia last year.

    Some 150,000 women work as maids in Singapore, mainly from Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

    The report paints a grim picture of young women trapped in apartment blocks, beaten, sometimes raped, killed or driven to suicide by their employers.

    The authors of the report say they believe such abuse is widespread in Singapore. In the past six years, at least 147 domestic workers have died in the city state.

    Excluded

    The rights group interviewed 90 people and conducted case studies to compile its 128-page report, Maid to Order - Ending abuses against migrant domestic workers in Singapore.

    HRW argues that by excluding maids from its Employment Act, Singapore is failing to comply with international law.

    "A system that excludes a class of workers from labour protections, leaving them to work for 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for pitifully low wages is one that demands serious and meaningful reform," it says.

    But Singapore's government denied it was exploiting the maids.

    "On their own accord, FDWs [foreign domestic workers] choose to work in Singapore because of better conditions here compared to their home and other countries.

    "Contrary to HRW's report, the majority of FDWs enjoy meaningful and safe employment in Singapore. An independent poll by Singapore Press Holdings in Dec 2003, revealed that over 80% of FDWs were happy to work in Singapore," the Ministry of Manpower said on its website.

    Harsh conditions

    One domestic worker cited in the report complained of overwork.

    "Sometimes employers want the maid to clean until 2200 or midnight and to start working again at 0600," she said.

    Another maid told HRW: "Sometimes there was not enough food... They bought food from outside, but not for me. When angry, [the employer] would throw my food in the rubbish... I was very scared. My employer told me, 'Tomorrow you have a punishment, no eating.'"

    Foreign and domestic workers in Singapore at present have no right to any time off. As of next year, employers will be obliged to give them one day off a month or financial compensation.

    But the report says the women should be given the same rights as other workers in Singapore.

    The authors say Singapore is by no means the worst offender in the region, but they argue that this tightly controlled city state could improve conditions very easily, giving many thousands of vulnerable women greater control over their lives.

  20. Who is talking?? says:

    Malaysia maids 'routinely abused' -- BBCNews JUly 21,2004

    Human Rights Watch says many of the maids, mostly from neighbouring Indonesia, work 18-hour days, seven days a week, and are often denied pay.

    It says it is especially concerned about legislation that excludes domestic workers from legal protection.

    Up to 90% of the 240,000 foreign workers in Malaysia are maids.

    In a report for the US-based group, researcher Nisha Varia says about 18,000 Indonesian maids fled their Malaysian employers last year.

    Complaints included not being allowed to sleep for more than five hours a night and not being allowed to leave their employers' home or contact their families.

    "Indonesian domestic workers are treated like second-class humans," Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

    Legal reform

    The report calls for laws to be brought in to ensure that maids are allowed holidays, guaranteed pay, that violent and abusive employers are punished, and that employment agencies are properly regulated.

    However, Malaysia's home affairs minister said there would be no move to change the law.

    Azmi Khalid said that less than 1% of maids suffered abuse.

    "Maids are very personal and they are part of the family. The normal law is enough if there is a report of abuse," he told Reuters news agency.

    In May, the Malaysian public was shocked by the case of Indonesian maid Nirmala Bonat.

    Newspapers published photographs of the 19-year-old scarred face, back and breasts, the alleged product of five months of abuse by her employer.

    Malaysia and Indonesia are expected to sign a memorandum on the treatment of maids later this year.

  21. andrea.S says:

    i think the main reason people often relate cases of maid abuse to Asians and the chinese in particular is because of the fact that asians, especially chinese, have been brought up with the thinking that they should get what the pay for, or rather simply "their money's worth"
    it's not that the chinese are more greedy than other races, but rather the fact that hard times and tough upbringing had made the people treat the value of a dime much more compared to lets say, the average American..
    Problems arise when people do not realise they have different value systems, and that maid are humans, not machines, and like any other human being have their needs and wants...
    but hitting and slapping a maid like one would whip a horse that's not running fast enough? that's where i draw the line.

  22. mist73 says:

    I am really curious about the final diagnosis of your maid. I agree that the doctor should have rule out meningitis. However, meningitis would not be on the top of my diagnosis.

  23. Gladys says:

    Hi Greg,

    Your blog entry is rather interesting and makes me reflects and think alot. I spend my childhood in HK and I remember having helper for our household to help with housework. In essence, our family had a good relationship with our helper and this included respect with each other. She had regular holidays and returned to her home country once every year. This in turn repercuss to better care of the children. I still remember the good times and anticipation of my helper bringing back taro ice cream and dried mango snacks from her home country everytime she comes back.

    It's sad that things and views you described in your blog happens more than just occasionally in HK. I am not sure whether it's due to the change of views HK people in the recent decade, or it has always been a big issue since the very beginning.

    In final comment, I believe that people who disrespect/look down on other people just because they have lower social economic status/ job status is just a reflection of their immaturity. A lot of work has to be done on teaching and improving the values. Just imagine what will the next generation become when the children nowdays see how their parents treat their helpers.

  24. Gladys says:

    Just one more comment regarding the diagnosis and management of your helper as coming from a medical student background...

    Quite often diagnosis cannot be made in medicine. The signs that you have described can occur in meningitis and yet these signs are rather unspecific meaning that they can also occur in many other diseases. I am not sure about your helper's demographics (e.g. age - meningitis mostly occur in people under 20), quite often, meningism may inaddition present with signs of photophobia (avoid light), rash (a rash that doesn't blanch when applied with pressure)...

    Having said that, meningitis is a serious disease that can develope severe complications so it's important to rule it out early on. Anyway, wish you all the best with your helper.