Let us bake bread together

Ministering to migrant workers in Hong Kong

[Episcopal Church Office of Communication] We all know the healing power of breaking bread together. The same can be true of baking the bread.

If you’re a migrant domestic worker in Hong Kong far away from your family and friends, you may look for healing at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Evangelist services, Sunday street gatherings where you spend the day with friends, and, yes, even a Saturday morning baking class. Mostly women, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, the workers cook, clean, and care for children all week to send money back to their families.

Grace Flint, Young Adult Service Corps volunteer from the Diocese of Kentucky, sees the need for healing every day in her work with the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW), an organization that assists migrant workers in distress. For more than 30 years Mission for Migrant Workers has focused on crisis intervention and prevention through migrant empowerment. Every day, including weekends, Grace is part of a committed, knowledgeable, caring team of folks dedicated to giving migrant workers a voice.

The stories are hard to hear. The work can swing between the dispiriting and the wildly hopeful in a matter of minutes. Not everyone is cut out for this kind of assignment. Grace, however, has landed in the place she is meant to be. Her faith brought her through personal tragedy and led her to take a big leap into the unknown by answering a call to Hong Kong through Young Adult Service Corps. A meat-and-potatoes woman – a hard thing to be in Hong Kong, believe me – she left behind familiar food, language, and socio-economic comforts to lend her talents and experience to the cause of migrant domestic workers.

One gift that Grace wasn’t sure she could put to use in this context was her talent for baking. She might not speak the language of Hong Kong or of her migrant clients, but she can bake a mean banana bread. But how do baking skills help women far away from home and family in any meaningful way?

Any cook will tell you that there is serenity and healing in the simple act of cooking, and that’s what Grace brings to Saturday morning baking classes for migrant women. It’s a chance for them to gather together, learn a new baking skill, laugh, and escape from daily stress. And after the healing act of baking bread comes the joy of breaking the bread together.

Certainly, migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong need more than a once-a-week baking class. The daily empowerment work of Mission for Migrant Workers makes a real difference in the lives of women and men working far from home. But there’s something holy in working together, relaxed and unhurried, learning something new, and sharing the delicious fruits of measuring, mixing, pouring, and baking. It’s really not such a small thing after all.

(For more information about Young Adult Service Corps, click here.)

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