Helping kids’ life shine Post Date: Sep 10th, 2010 | Categories: Advocacy | COMMENT Hello, my name is Maria and I’m a sponsor of Vision First. A year ago I decided to sponsor Vision First because I was impressed by their dedication to help the underprivileged. However, I didn’t really bother to find out exactly what Vision First really does. This June I received a tax receipt including a drawing and Thank You Note from an African girl they help. I was touched and responded by asking if there was anything else I could help with. They invited me to visit their office to have a chat and I normally would have turned it down, but I did go because I was free that week with kid in summer camp. It was then I found out what Vision First really is and whom it exists for. Without a detailed explanation, I had no idea there are in HK more than 6,500 asylum-seekers, who escaped deadly persecution in their country, and amongst them a hundred refugees. Many paid a high prices for holding on to their religious or political ideals against their enemies. Vision First calls them ‘friends’ and I learnt they found their way here because our government generously opened the door to them. These refugees are supposed to wait here until other countries like the US, Canada and Australia accept them. The HK government has no obligations to take care of them They are not provided with shelter, but left to fend for themselves and they only receive survival food once every ten days. When the food is finished (or if they don’t have a stove to cook) they fill their stomach by going to various NGOs and begging for food. Yes, they are literally beggars and aren’t allowed to work even as a volunteers. I realized my notion of refugees was still equated with the Vietnamese boat-people who fled to Hong Kong over 20 years ago. I hadn’t the slightest idea there are political refugees living in our city. Occasionally I read in newspapers how Christians are abused in remote countries in Africa, then I would sigh and feel bad for a moment, but would forget all about it as I turn to the next page. But these families are real people here. Vision First briefed me on their outreach work and shared stories of their clients’ misery and dangerous flight from their home countries. My heart sank, but at the same time I was touched by what they have done for them. With the funds from donors, they place them in decent homes with basic furniture and supplies, they pay for basic expenses like electricity, water, medicines and transportation. That was only laying the groundwork, as now they worries about the refugee children who are allocated a space in local schools, but don’t have money for transportation, books or lunch. With just the bare minimum to survive each day, it becomes impossible for these parents to send their kids to school. When I heard Vision First needs sponsors to help with the children’s education, I responded immediately and was assigned to help a Congolese family in Hong Kong with three kids. Though I am not involved with the voluntary work of Vision First, I feel much closer to this charity now that I have learned more about the clients it serves. With a monthly sponsorship of 1000 HKD, I feel good not only that I am helping this family but also I know 100% of my donation is given directly to them. As promised, nothing is deducted and every expense is recorded and signed for. I wish to share with you these feelings and experience, because it might inspire you to also join this program. I couldn’t help but write down my thoughts as the experience of meeting people whose life was threatened because of their belief, has helped me deepen my faith. It is also a great opportunity to plant the seed of compassion in our children, to help them learn from these underprivileged kids who only wish for a safe place to live and study. Because we are blessed with opportunity and choice, we are morally responsible to assist the helpless and, I believe, nobody is going to keep these kids’ life from shining!