The problem is no organization makes a decisions on our case. We go to the UNHCR and their process seems unlimited – I personally gave up, after 38 monthly appointment slips, because I simply couldn’t spare the MTR fee to be delayed without a deadline. It seem that for them: no decision means no responsibility – they just wash their hands of us. We go to Immigration and again there is no decision and no answers. They make us wait for months which turn into years and we just feel paralyzed. We don’t trust their words because they are empty promises, never followed up with action. Some asylum-seekers registered in 2002 and are still waiting. Others arrived in 2004 and haven’t had their first interview. A rights lawyer brought 43 cases to the Court of Appeal under CIL (Customary International Law), the case was refused and again there was no solution. People wait for years and years because without a decision they don’t know how to solve their problem.
If they were given a clear “NO WAY” they would immediately look someplace else as nobody wants their life to be parked like the hundreds of rusting bicycles in this photo.If only the responsible organizations, gave us a negative decision then we would pursue other channels, for example take our case to other consulates for individual assistance. However these consulates will not consider our case as long as we have an open files with UNHCR and ID – so we are stuck between hopelessness and despair. We really want to try something else to solve our problems instead of watching the years go by, penniless because it’s illegal to work. Why do they even allow us to enter Hong Kong when we don’t have a chance to survive? We can’t even leave unless deported home, from where we escaped in the first place for fear of persecution. It’s so frustrating … if Hong Kong really wants to solve the problem of asylum-seekers they need clear polices to deal with the 6,800 cases. Or close the door to fake arrivals who treat the city as work heaven for a few years closing their case and returning home. One guy said “This Asylum-seeker paper is better than a Refugee certificate as I can work for a few years and then go home!”
Dabihu 28, East Africa
We are pleased to announce our first fundraising event at
SOLAS, G/F 60 Wyndham Street, Central
11 March at 19:00-Late
Please join us for a great evening of drinks, music and fun to meet our team of volunteers and support our work with asylum-seekers and refugees. There will be a LUCKY DRAW with great prizes and 20% of the evening’s revenue will help expand our programs in the coming months. Bring your friends and let’s have a drink for a great cause – we can’t wait to see you there!
Back from the Chinese New Year holidays, we received some great news: the Inland Revenue Department approved our tax exemption status with IR File Number 91/10448. Having applied back in June 2009 and waited patiently for nine long months, we are finally ready for the funding, grants and donations which will enable us to open a Service Center, broaden our assistance and tackle new challenges.
A big thank you to Peter Wong, who made it all happen! Peter has been a friend for over twenty years and as partner of Cheng & Cheng Limited - Vision First honorary auditors – he guided us through the complex procedures to become a charitable institution. (Should you require any accounting work, personal or corporate, he’s the go-to-man!)
Here is a copy of the IRD certificate
“Wow thanks for the shoes! They are my first pair since I arrived in Hong Kong three years ago. I left my home with these olds ones which got me away from the rebels and half around the world. It reminds me of the day I left my village, when the rebels returned to kill me. Their leaders always come three time to force recruitment: the first time they say it’s religious duty, you must do it for Jihad; the second time they say you must kill the government; the third time they offer you money to fight and they give you a notice “If you don’t come by Wednesday you are dead!” When you hold that warning in your hands, you know your life is worth less than a chicken’s, because the chicken can always make eggs, but if you don’t join them … then you are dead.
The rebels rules the village, it’s a big area like TST with many houses but you can’t hide anywhere because they have eyes in every home. You can’t stay and refuse to fight because they will shoot even your family. These are not people – they are monsters! It’s hard to believe they come from the same place, eat the same food and were the kids we played with. Now they are all crazy, their eyes are full of anger. They think there is no God to punish them, just like there is no police to stop them. I was lucky my uncle sold his old truck – my mom died giving me birth and my father was killed ten years ago – he gave me the money and an agent in the city bought a passport and helped me escape to Guangzhou.
A man has to decide even if he has no money and no power. We belong to a small tribe, with little power. We only have our name and we must protect it until we die. Why do I have to kill my people? What did they do to me? What will my three sons think if I become a killer? It hurts too much to think about it, because now they don’t have a father just like I didn’t. But what could I do? We have to make choices and I don’t want to kill my people. The rebels killed many in my village. A bullet is cheap. I was going to be next, so I had to run, run so far they can never find me. It breaks my heart to be an asylum-seeker, but what could I do? I had no choice in my village, no choice in my country but to become a rebel. It keeps me awake all night. I never sleep till five in the morning because I think too much, but what can I do now? I feel so helpless. I know my country will never change and without hope it’s difficult to get up in the morning. How can a man live without family and without hope? It’s better to have one or the other. Now my life is like a movie PAUSED without changing for three years. The picture is stuck, doesn’t go forward and doesn’t go backwards. I smile a little because I am safe and have friends like Vision First, but in my heart there is only pain.”
Bahari 25, West Africa
“Thank you for all the assistance you have given me and the chance to check my email. I don’t have internet in Yung Long so this is the only way I can keep in touch with my wife and baby girl … it’s so sad thinking about her … I never saw her face since she was born after I fled Africa. It’s such a pity but I have no control, no chance to change my life and I feel bad I don’t even have 10$ to send them. How can I worry about them when can’t take care of myself? Every day is a hopeless dawn – a new struggle. I was hoping to have less trouble when I moved from Cheung Sha Wan to a cheaper room in the New Territories, but the bus is more 30$ and I can only come to town when friends give me some money. I promised the church to repay the 2,000$ loan for my home, but how can I do that? Look, I’m not joking … I only have 6$ in my pocket and without help I can’t even get back to Yung Long.
At least I have good health and I know … with God on my side nothing is impossible!”
Abel 28, Central Africa
Vision First provides the opportunity for refugees and asylum seeker and the Hong Kong community to participate together in recreational activities. These activities provide numerous benefits for our community:
1. Provide opportunities for social contact across community boundaries;
2. Promote mutual understanding;
3. Engender in participants a desire for and commitment to peaceful coexistence;
4. Enhance skills and knowledge;
5. Strengthens public awareness:
Vision First organizes monthly football matches between our [tippy title="clients" header="off"]Vision First registered asylum seekers and refugees. Vision First registered clients are unable to reveal their faces for their protection[/tippy] and the community.
Football has the power to raise awareness and to bring people together. The rules of football provide one of the few truly global standards and can function as a powerful tool for transforming community attitudes and empowering individuals through the acquisition of new physical and social skills, self-confidence and positive relationships. The rules of football provide one of the few truly global standards and our clients are truly passionate about playing!
This is our food collection for the next ten days. We don’t get vegetable except tomatoes because they give us old stuff locals won’t buy – but why complain? Better than being hungry. You know how many tomatoes 10 USD buy in my country? A whole van load – not what fits inside, but the size of a van wheels included! Our bananas and papaya are so huge you wouldn’t believe and really sweet and fragrant. We make a mashed banana dish with salt, sugar and spices which is the best! If we want fish we don’t have to pay a cent: we just go to the beach early morning, when fishermen dump what they don’t take to market, and pick the best fish to grill at home on a fire. There’s even fish a meter long lying there, because fishermen cut out the cheeks to sell and they don’t care about the rest.
The contrast with Hong Kong is huge: here we struggle with hand-outs because we can’t work and collect two bags of food three times a month. As we share them with friends, after a few days we are hungry and go to charities and churches for meals. I never thought I would go hungry before fleeing my country. I never even thought I would be homeless. Sleeping under the stars in Kowloon park was a shocking first experience for me – it felt like a bad dream. After running out of money, a friend lived almost a year sleeping under the Star Ferry between two columns, where he carved his name lest somebody take his place. A dormitory bed in Chung King Mansion is 70$ a night so how do you pay that? Strange things happen: my friend didn’t have 12 bucks for the slow ferry last night so he sleep hiding in an alley, afraid the police would arrest him because it’s illegal to sleep on the streets for non-Chinese.
Chiamaka 23, East Africa
Dear supporters –
Since returning from my trip to Italy and France mid-July, we have been very busy, more than expected, but that’s great in this field. We have been thinking how to write monthly updates ahaed of the blog we plan for our website and ‘short & simple’ is preferable to keep you informed. Of course, if you want to hear more about a particular task or wish to participate and contribute your ideas, then let’s have coffee sometime. First some basic information:
- Vision First Limited was incorporated 25 June 2009 with the support of auditors Cheng & Cheng
- Vision First’s certificate of incorporation is No. 1348537
- Vision First’s business registration certificate is No. 50924197
- IRD charity approval should be obtained by December
- CR deletion of “Limited” will take at least one year
Our recent activities:
• Danielle resigned her former job and is now our founder/manager, working from Lyndhurst Tower
• rented and furnished a second mini-shelter in Hung Hom (HH2)
• rented and furnished a third mini-shelter in Hung Hom (HH3) for a total of 12 beds
• designed our logo, see below [Thank you Stephen!]
• launched our holding page website www.visionfirstnow.org
• discussed our role with the two executives at UNHCR in Yaumatei
• meetings and cooperation with ISS (International Social Services) for assistance to shared clients
• registration of 40+ Vison First clients (Danielle has an active list of 50+ from her previous work)
• several medical check-ups with kind Dr. Tsang, who’s offering indispensable and kind support
• purchase of an inter-ocular lens for a diabetic client losing her right eye due to infection
• purchase of red/white Lotto shirts for the East African soccer team (to play on government fields)
• support at dozens of medical visits at Queen Elizabeth Hospital
• emergency assistance to first African child with Swine Flu
• back-rent settlement for six clients and one family (two children) threatened by landlord
• rent top-up agreement with ten deserving clients’ landlords to retain their one-room-home
• internet connections in three shelters, shared by many visiting friends
• broad support for transportation and survival cash for all registered Vision First clients
• one-off intervention to settle power and water bills in distress cases
• opening of HSBC bank account
For those with auto-pay instructions, could you kindly change the details to:
Beneficiary Account Name: Vision First Limited
Beneficiary Bank Name: HSBC Hong Kong
Beneficiary Bank Code: 004
Beneficiary Account Number: 400 – 672952 – 001
Thank you for your support~
Mobile: 9370 2039 | Office: 2851 0885 | Fax: 2851 0655
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: www.visionfirstnow.org
VISION FIRST – 1901 Lyndhurst Tower, 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong