I remember the time in 2011 when I first joined a Cantonese class at Vision First. The first week everything was OK and our teacher was Owen, who is now a TV reporter. The next week he was absent. We all thought he was late.
Then the manager Danielle (co-founder of VF) said: “If your teacher isn’t here in five minutes, the class will be cancelled and you can come back next week”. We were all disappointed as learning Cantonese is essential to live in Hong Kong.
I remember it was a Friday. Suddenly something told me to say: “Let me try!” I told Danielle: “If the teacher couldn’t make it, don’t let people go home disappointed. Please allow me to teach today.” The staff at Vision First discussed my offer and joked, “Abel, Abel! You can only teach French, not Cantonese!”
I insisted they let me try once and they allowed me. After the end of an hour teaching, I was surprised when the students stood up and clapped. I told myself that day: “I can do this!” Afterwards some students reported to Danielle and asked that I teach every week, or at least be the replacement teacher.
The following week Owen returned and was aware about my success the previous week. He asked if I would be available once a week to teach a class, because we had two Cantonese class weekly. Later, he assigned me to teach both lessons, so he could teach Mandarin instead.
I have been in Hong Kong over a decade and I am fluent in Cantonese. More time went by and some organizations heard about me and wanted to see the BLACK MAN born in Africa teaching Cantonese to fellow refugees.
Recently, members of Global Youth Connect and their Hong Kong affiliate “Breakthrough” came to follow my class. At the end, they were amazed and one of them was even moved to tears.
For a few months I have taught the Cantonese class for the Refugee Union and I believe my students are proud of me. This is my story of service. What is yours?
We are pleased to offer all refugees on a first come, first served basis 250 free tickets for the equestrian spectacular “Cavalia”
Date Wednesday, 15 April 2015
Location Central Harbourfront Event Space
Big white circus tent at Central Star Ferry
Next to the Hong Kong Observation Wheel at IFC
Registration Call Vanessa to register at 54282427
Duration 2 hour show with a 30 minute interval
Age Children are welcome if they are old enough to sit twice for one hour
Parents should decide if their young children will enjoy the show
Conceived by Normand Latourelle, one of the co-founders of famed Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia is a fresh mix of equestrian and performing arts, multimedia and special effects, innovatively integrating acrobatics, dance, aerial stunts and live music.
The show – often labelled as an equestrian ballet – combines advanced technology and the fundamental relationship that humans have developed with horses throughout time; enabling us to build bridges between cultures, to expand civilization and now to produce the purest form of art, one created through kindness, patience, and love.
A show unlike any other, Cavalia celebrates the relationship between humans and horses, virtually reinventing the equestrian arts.
We, Vision First Limited, re-published on our website on the 24th March 2015 an article by Refugee Union entitled “RU prepares to bury a comrade” which stated, “We salute a Comrade Killed by our Oppressor ISS-HK” referring to the death of Mr. Sivaharan.
We accept that the allegation ISS-HK killed Mr. Sivaharan is unsubstantiated, inappropriate and ought not to have been published. We hereby unreservedly withdraw this allegation and wish to apologise to ISS-HK for any inconvenience and embarrassment caused by it.
Vision First Limited
2 April 2015
Asylum seekers and refugees rely entirely on the Hong Kong Government and Social Welfare Department (“SWD”) distribution of government assistance provision through International Social Services (ISS-HK). They are not allowed to work and are sentenced to 15-22 months imprisonment if arrested working. They have no savings, no income, no bank account, nor can they rely on social networks, NGO assistance or help from family and friends. Under these conditions, they are not afforded adequate support to meet their most basic needs. While they struggle to survive, the situation is degrading, humiliating and in breach of their rights as persons granted non-refoulement protection in Hong Kong. Over the years they have repeatedly requested to bring their assistance to an adequate level, but they have been systematically and incomprehensively left in a destitute state. The limited and insufficient assistance they receive makes it impossible for them to survive on a day to day basis, particularly in the face of soaring rents.
Vision First request that the Hong Kong Government, the Security Bureau and SWD fulfill their obligation to provide for asylum seekers and refugees’ basic financial, material needs or otherwise. These needs include, but are not limited to, appropriate quantity and quality of food assistance, payment of full rent and utilities, payment of full rental deposits to landlord, daily necessities like cooking gas, clothing, health care, transport allowance for required trips always payable in full and in advance. We request that ISS-HK sign the Tenancy Agreements as refugees have no savings or income to pay rent balances every month.
We formally request that a public hearing be held to discuss these matters that concern all persons requesting and having been granted international protection in Hong Kong, who in March 2015 amounted to over 10,000 individuals, increasing by 300 every month.
Vision First further request that a Task Force be established to investigate why persons requesting and having been granted international protection in Hong Kong have been left destitute despite a system being in place to disburse government funding to prevent this condition from happening. Such policy failures have caused refugees needless and unreasonable physical, mental and psychological suffering.
Vision First invites refugees to download and complete the form below that will be filed at the Complaints Office of the Legislative Council Secretariat over the coming weeks and months.