I’m very grateful to Vision First for paying my electricity bill. I already owe three months and HK Electric threatened to cut the power on Friday if it’s not paid. If it happens I have no choice and would live without lights, but food would rot without a fridge so it would be terrible! It opens my heart you help me with such a huge problem that worried me sick night and day – it’s such a relief to finally solved it! Every night before I sleep I pray for everything to work out, for good things to happen, for my mother and for all the refugees … Since the new Immigration-Labour law in December, I couldn’t get an hour’s work if I wanted to, so every single dollar comes from charity and you don’t know how tough it is to beg every time … Back home my father owned two big fishing trawlers, we had work, we had fish, we had dream … then he was killed with my brother and my mother forced me to flee for my life … it’s tough to be a beggar when I know I can work, be productive and help myself. But what choice do I have? My uncle is a refugee in London but the Embassy won’t even give me an appointment … they said they don’t handle these cases here … they said “Send us an email” and never replied.
Only by laughing at the hopelessness around me, do I manage to keep my sanity after being broke for three years. The social worker ask me to move to Shamshuipo, but I hate it there. There are many dangerous people, many bad things happen at night so I’m safer living on Cheung Chau island. The advantage is getting fresh carrots, beetroot and bakchoy from the farms for just a few coins. All year I can fish and explore the jungle for fruits, like bananas and banana flowers I can cook and eat. The best are the jackfruit: you can find really big ones, which smell sweet even before opening them. You must put cooking oil on your hands and knife because the bubbly stuff inside irritates the skin real bad. The yellow ones you can eat fresh, but the white ones you need to cook with sauces and eat with rice. They are such a treat, you should come and try them!
Ebun 23, West Africa
11th March, 2010. Vision First held our first fundraiser at SOLAS for the specific purpose of collecting funds to open our first Asylum Seeker and Refugee Service Center. A 100% of the money donated will go towards purchasing office furniture and supplies within the next few months. The event highlighted the bar tending skills of John Tompkins, James Kibble, Manoj Jain, Jeong Jeong Chu and Eric Castillo who will run the LA Marathon on 21st March for Vision First. The guys and Susan Chan did a great job of infecting the crowd with their enthusiasm and willingness to dontate and make the night the great success that it was. A The raffle prizes were donated by our sponsors; Da Vino, Goccia, Concept Creations, Fine Vintage, The Hairdressers, Pure, Stepworks and Mangnolia Private Dining.
A big thanks to all the sponsors, SOLAS and all our guests who donated and gave such overwhelming support. As a new organization, we greatly value the positive feedback and encouragement we receive.
With your continued support, we are able to raise awareness of the need to assist Asylum Seekers and Refugees survive in Hong Kong as they await UNHCR refugee status and third repatriation.
Your donations go a long way to ease the daily challenges they face with the even basics of living such as food and shelter. A special thank you to our beautiful raffle ticket sellers on the night – Brooke Beatson, Belinda Flanders and Letizia Casalino and….our DJ David Sayer. A big thank you to all involved from the Vision First team.
And good luck, top fitness and speed to Eric!
Check out http://www.lifestyleasia.com/gallery/vision-first_2805.htm for more photos of the event…….
Vision First is a partial beneficiary of PubGolf 2010!!! Tee off is March 20, 12:30 in Stanley (venue, TBA). Limited to 100 “golfers”, green fee is a raffle book of 25 totaling $2500. Birdies, Bogeys and Eagles measured by the number of sips it takes to finish the assigned drink per bar!!!
For detailed rules see: http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Play-Pub-Golf
If you wish to purchase raffle tickets but not play PubGolf, you can do that too!
Contact: email@example.com for details.
RSVP first come first serve to play: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other than Vision First, the other beneficiary is to help the Rwandan Rugby Team make their way to Hong Kong to participate in the HK Rugby 10’s tournament. See the SCMP article for their story.
See the SCMP article for their story
For the week of March 1-8, 2010, Vision First clients were granted free access to specialty dental health care. The Vision First ‘Dental Health Week’ ran in partnership with the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Dentistry’s ‘Community Health Project’, supervised by Professor McGrath and his team.
Clients were provided with transportation to the University campus where they received free dental checkups, treatment and follow up care and support. The program served 43 clients and provided a service usually out of reach to Asylum Seekers and Refugees due to the high cost of dental care and low level of priority in clients hierarchy of needs. Vision First continually seeks community service programs such as the ‘Community Health Project’ to serve and advocate for the rights of AS&R in Hong Kong.
We at Vision First wish to extend our thanks to Professor McGrath and his team for their support and expert level of care.
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