Updated: Jan 17
Wika is one of my Indonesian friends in Hong Kong and she has an incredible story to share. Here is Wika's story in her own words.
My Hong Kong Story
I arrived in Hong Kong in April 2000.
I came for work on a contract basis with an IT company and like so many, I fell in love with Hong Kong and this City has become the home where I have built my family. I have two gorgeous sons, a lovingly supportive husband and 2 dogs. We also have been helping Mother’s Choice through their foster program and have opened our home to a few beautiful children over the
past 3-4 years.
I am currently working as an Interpreter, and through my work I came across a lot of women in need of support and guidance, Hong Kong can be a difficult place for many, especially FDH’s. In my spare time I love to volunteer at different NGO’s such as FDH, Pathfinders, and Enrich.
One of my other passions is Ultra Tourism!
Back in 2011, I started to take part in ultra-marathons along with my husband. In truth we are both Ultra Tourists rather than racers; exploring on foot, some of the remotest parts of the world with a wonderful group of like-minded people has been amazing.
My first adventure outside of Hong Kong, was in Nepal (100 km) followed by Iceland (250 km) with Racing the Planet in 2013. Then we did Bhutan (220 km), Madagascar 250 (km). Cambodia (220KM) and the last one was Albania (220KM) and our next adventure will be in Mongolia (160 km) on a frozen lake at -40 degrees! My husband and I will be raising money for Children with Cancer UK.
One of my objectives is to empower Indonesian women to take up personal challenges be that ultra-marathons or some other opportunity to grow. I would certainly recommend these events as a great way to explore the world, challenge oneself and they are also fantastic ways to raise funds for charities.
In 2013, the Haiyan Super Typhoon that hit the Philippines, killed around 6000 people and caused massive destruction. My husband and I decided to help in some small way.
We did a call out to our community for donations of goods and funds. We then hired a crew for our boat and sent it to deliver over 80 tons of items such as; rice, clothes, tents, water etc. We also managed to raise about half of million HK dollars. It was an amazing thing to be involved in and we had so much help from friends and colleagues with some heart-warming stories of support coming from the HK community.
Supporting Other Women
In 2015, I was thinking of how we could help some migrant workers develop their feeling of self-worth and deeper involvement in HK. I decided to set up a Dragon Boat Team, the Komodo Dragon’s with most members being Indonesian migrant workers.
At the start I was only able to recruit six people! But it grew to in excess of 30 members. The team trained hard mostly on their only day off from work and we got them to a level where we started to enter races.
In 2016, our first race was the Lamma 500 and though we did not win the sense of achievement was immense and we were noted for being the noisiest and happiest boat on the water. We received a lot of support after that race; Lamma Dragons gave us practice sessions, Royal HK Yacht club give us their old boat to practice and a local team gave us 23 paddles. Because of these donations we were able to practice regularly.
Through a lot of hard work and dedication, the ladies took 3rd place at the DB race and 3rd place at the Asian Cup, Tuen Mun in 2017.
Becoming foster parents.
In 2016, through my work, I came across a lady who was unable to look after her two-year-old daughter. It was heart-breaking to see such things. So, in 2017 we became foster parents of Mother Choice. We help look after mostly new-born babies until their parents can look after them or they are adopted. Since then, I have fostered three children.
In 2020 October, I sprained my ankle. I could not walk well for about four months which made my usual work difficult. During that time, I read an article about Indonesian under lockdown and the difficulties created by the lack of tourism. I was talking at the time to one of my previous clients who had gone back to Indonesia after working as an FDH in HK. She told me that she used the funds that she recovered from the court proceedings against her employer in Hong Kong to open a Batik House! She was employing single parent mothers to make Batik for her. But, unfortunately, due to Covid, she could not market her product to the usual places.
My love of Batik fabric made me decide to buy all her current stock of Batik! I learnt how to sew through YouTube and using a sewing machine that I had sitting gathering dust in storage, I started making bags, mask and other items.
At first, I offered these to my friends and to my surprise there was lots of interest. I managed to sell 48 Batik silk scarves, 18 bags, over 100 face masks and over 100 pcs of our zero-waste wrapping during November- December.
I am working closely together with the lady in Indonesia as I want to support the community business she is building. I hope we can grow together.
What have you learnt from this process?
I become more patient and persistent! I am used to working with structure, time management and proper planning, this is a little alien to the community businesses I’m working with in Indonesia. So, I am also mentoring them to help run their businesses more effectively without losing the individuality of what they produce.
Which part do you find challenging from your entrepreneurship journey?
At the start I wanted to create personalised items every time myself, this though has been difficult given that some items such as masks are only low priced. Finding away to keep each item ‘individual’ at a cost-effective price has been hard.
But introducing Batik to non-Indonesian’s is rewarding as they seem to appreciate the hand-crafted nature of the products, enjoying the little imperfections that come from this process.
I think it’s also important that we raise awareness concerning the environment and the impact the garment industry has. We are championing natural materials and dyes all made by hand. We are also introducing an ‘Up-cycle’ service for your Batik, for example if you have a Batik dress that you don’t wear anymore we could turn that into an item such as a hand bag, hair accessories or anything that will make the most of the fabric.
What is your advice for other people?
Be Kind and be open to helping others- you never know when help will come back to you!
Where can we find your Batik?
Facebook Batik Cantik Hong Kong