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A step towards taking control of life

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : If enthusiasm and the pure excitement of being present are the criteria of a successful graduation, a ceremony held at the Diocese Centre in Caine Road on August 23 for some 60 graduates of a financial literacy course sponsored by CARD-OFW Hong Kong gets top marks.

And if the criteria is marking the completion of a course in which life-giving and life-changing values have been learned, then it still gets top marks.

The chairperson of the board of trustees, Rex Aguado, said that he believes that the most important thing about the course is that it helps to build self-confidence, as people really get to know what they can do.

He said that the bottom line of financial literacy is that it can give the freedom to make choices, so that people’s lives stop being controlled by outside forces.

“Financial freedom gives this, as well as control over your time, but the challenge to each individual is to learn to use this freedom well,” Aguado told the enthusiastic gathering.

He also stressed the value of community, saying, “The purpose of life is not just to make money, but ultimately it is to help each other.”

He pointed out that the ambition that most migrant workers hold when they arrive in Hong Kong is to make enough money to go home and make a good life for themselves with their families, but sadly, for so many this dream is never fulfilled.

He commented, “This only becomes possible when you have control over your life and cease being controlled by others.”

One of the highlights of the afternoon was not only the three groups that graduated from the primary course, but the graduation of the second batch of those who have done preparation to lead the courses.

Vicky Munar, who coordinates the training courses, said that they began their training back in 2013. Since then they have attended training days and also given presentations in live courses under supervision.

Sheena Martinez, the resident coordinator of CARD, said, “They devote their days off to inspire fellow overseas Filipino workers to understand the importance of financial literacy and using their money well.”

She said that they are looking forward to a third batch of trainors that should be ready to graduate next year.

The trainors are a vital part of the organisation of CARD, as courses are led by trained migrant workers, who come out of exactly the same background as those taking the courses and understand the pressures and problems that they face.

Having more of them available to lead courses, means that the organisation has a better chance of keeping up with the constant demand from migrants who wish to do the course.

Up until now some 1,400 people have been through the basic course, with around one-third of them fairly recently.

“Having more trainors means that we can respond to requests from groups as well,” Aguado pointed out. 

He explained that one of the batches graduating on that day came from the FILMCASS cancer support services group, which did the course as a community.

CARD has also done training at the Tai Po parish, as well as a Baptist Church. This is a convenient arrangement, because the training can be done at the church and people do not have to travel to Central or Kennedy Town.

The graduation ceremony was the highlight of a full day’s activity, with the morning devoted to helping the graduates to focus their ambitions and give support to each other in fulfilling the goals they have set for themselves.

There was also a forum on the on-going services that CARD offers to migrant workers who have completed the mandatory saving period and are able to return home to their families.

A variety of handmade craft works were on display which are the product of a CARD-sponsored home industry project that it runs in The Philippines, as an example of one of the dozens of opportunities available to members.

The consul general from The Philippines to Hong Kong, Bernardita Catalla, praised those who had taken part in the training and encouraged them to take advantage of the many courses that are available to migrant workers in the city, both at her consulate and through other organisations, which can assist people to better their education and future prospects.


The day finished with the recital of the CARD pledge and some roof raising singing as the fresh graduates glimpsed the possibility of a better life ahead, which their experience has opened up for them.

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