My name is Sophia and I am a HKU master student in social work. Vision First is really a perfect opportunity for me to work with a group of passionate people and provide the best possible support to their refugee members. I have worked at Vision First for just one week and I have to say, it has been one of the most special experiences in my life. I really enjoy helping others, and Vision First brings me a new understanding of personal relationships and value. Besides, I deeply feel an urgent need to help this group of people without a country. Nowadays, there are around 6000 asylum seekers in Hong Kong. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and the procedure to claim refugee takes three years or more – so it is very difficult for them to survive. In a high-consumption society like Hong Kong, most refugees are living in a very hard and adverse environment. They can only get very limited support for food and housing from the government and some NGO organizations, far from satisfy their daily needs. In addition, due to persecution faced in their countries and the difficulty they have in Hong Kong, many are suffering from psychological problems, such as PTSD and depression.
Vision First is a warm family, consisting of volunteers and refugees from all around the world. The agency strives to provide assistance to our members, such as financial support, medical support, counseling and education service. The mission statement of the agency is the following: “To empower and assist refugees through a caring and giving society; to meet their needs, eventually to become skilled, happy and prepared for resettlement and future integration”. Every day I am impressed by various people and stories, or by the enthusiastic volunteers, who come here to teach English, Cantonese, computer training and other skills, not getting paid, but devoting their best effort to this task. Our generous donors bring a lot of life necessities to the agency and helped to arrange all kind of good from clothes and shoes, to towels and plates. Some of them even come here with their young children. I believe this will definitely become the best education for their kids as it teaches them how to be kind and helpful when they grow up. Finally, of course our members who are resilient, determined and brave. They never give up hope to achieve a dignified life in a safe country.
Since all the people working here are nice and passionate, I never had to break the ice and started work on the first day very soon. Based on my university knowledge and personal preferences, my future job will focus on children and women support. Especially after I went to a Srilankan refugee home and tutored a nine years old girl, I realize how important education is for these children. I was touched by this little girl’s eagerness to learn, her innocence and her lovely smile. I believe that education can certainly help them to change their fate in the future. Clearly, compared to men, women have always been particularly vulnerable. According to research, an unknown number of female refugees have been threatened or suffered sexual assaults or rape. Especially for women from certain cultures these can be profoundly traumatic experiences. Furthermore, women always take the main responsibility to take care of their children. The experience taught from old mother to young mother and the advice from professionals can help reducing the parenting stress for women. As a consequence the support for women is very crucial. Finally, Vision First’s genuinely friendly and caring atmosphere motivates my work and provides a great opportunity to put knowledge and ideas into practice. What’s more, I learnt a lot from these inspiring volunteers and this will be helpful for my future study and work. I do believe I will gather a great harvest of experience during the rest of my summer at Vision First.