Hello, my name is Monica and I am a MSW candidate at HKU, as well as a Vision First intern. Over the past months we have organized a well-attended programs for VF ladies to come together for support, solidarity and a little fun – something sorely missing in their current lives. Last Wednesday, a group of refugee women, together with their children, had a great time at Deep Water Bay Beach, a place where none of them had been before, despite being a short bus ride from Central. These ladies, coming from different countries, are members of the Vision First “Cooking & Storytelling Group”. There are few things women like better than chatting while sharing cooking tips and stories about their families, countries and experiences. They have happily attended this group weekly for three months already and have formed deep, supporting friendship with one another. It was the first time these ladies left the concrete jungle behind to enjoy sunshine and fresh air in Hong Kong – the best things in life are truly free!
“I really want to thank you for giving us such a beautiful day!” Magda from East Africa said to volunteers at the end of the outing. As a matter of fact, the ladies themselves contribute greatly to the preparation. Some helped to bring members who did not know the location, some brought BBQ materials and carried all the way to the beach, some took care of the children when others were busy broiling the food. To them, cooking and sharing had become a delightful way to fight the anxieties in refugees’ lives and also make new friends. And the sunshine and fresh air on the bay area indeed relieved them from Hong Kong’s merciless city life. On a bright sunny day like this, the ladies could finally wear their beautiful make up, put on their colorful dresses and be who they truly are. As Fatima walked to the beach, she stood in the middle of the ocean water and looked into the far way mountains, she seemed to be embracing her moment of Zen.
The children also had a lot of fun. They quickly became friends and played together. They climbed up near the fence to watch the boats floating on the water; they chased each other through the paths between the BBQ sites; they hide from their moms who were eager to check how much food was left in their mouths. Then they held hands and posed expertly for the camera, as if they were stars on a magazine shoot! After the BBQ, the ladies and children went to the beach to play by the water together. Rashmi with her son and a friend’s little girl went into the bay and had a fun water fight. Their clothes were soaked, but their laughter was like music. The picture of Rashmi gently holding her boy in the middle of the water, became a touching memory to the volunteers. However, nobody would argue that this photo below perfectly captures the wonderful spirit of that sunny afternoon of friendship and hope.