This summer, thanks to AC Milan Soccer School (Football for Life), the Vision First football team had the opportunities to enjoy free, professional training sessions every Saturday! Now the Vision First Football team has opportunities to receive regular and organized football activities to enhance their skills, their team spirit and, most importantly … to have FUN! With such generous donations of training sessions, coaches and the chance to play on a beautiful artificial turf pitch, our soccer-crazy members enjoyed and learnt a lot from the well-designed training sessions - AC Milan style!
“This is a good chance for us to play football. Before AC Milan soccer school’s donation we do not have much chance to train ourselves. By regular training we are becoming more experienced in skills like shooting and passing, and with more training sessions we are becoming more experienced.” – Adele.
It’s been three weeks, six lessons and we’re on to a new start. This year I took part in an amazing course at SCAD Hong Kong. SCAD students met up with a group from Vision First and studied photography together. A month ago we celebrated the project showing our work to the larger communities of SCAD and Vision First. It was at that meeting that I overheard someone from Vision First say how much they would like to learn painting. One thing lead to another and today Vision First has an Art Workshop on twice week.
The Art Workshop aims at creating a community for people interested in art. It’s uniqueness is in creating a space that every participant brings his or her knowledge and ideas to the table. Unlike traditional ways of teaching it’s not only the teacher who is responsible for the content of the lesson. It’s a place to explore and learn together.
Yael Bronner Rubin is an South African- Israeli artist. She has her undergraduate degree in art and education and is currently studying for a M.F.A. at SCAD Hong Kong.
“Which part of Africa is it?” I asked. Addea replied, “You see how the people dress, the vegetation, the houses… it is the Southern part of Africa.” Even causally watching a movie at Vision First’s center is a great opportunity for members to share knowledge, expertise and culture. Here I enter a global village – a Georgian, an Iranian, two Somalis, a Togolese and a Liberian watching a South African movie with Bushmen as main characters. Standing next to them is a local Hong Konger – that is me, Kashu, a Master of Social Work student from the University of Hong Kong. A simple, peaceful, causal and relaxing movie time is a luxury for VF members, no matter whether they are here in Hong Kong, or back in their home country. In their home country they encountered conflicts, persecution, torture and blackmailing. In Hong Kong they experienced poverty, isolation, boredom and disorientation. Vision First provides a precious and cozy space for them to socialize and receive what they need, like clothing and food. For me, Vision First provides its members with far more than just tangible services and material goods. Members here can also serve as helpers – they help others while being assisted themselves. They help to bring food upstairs to the office, keep the office clean, and the shelter and office running, like assisting with maintenance. These tasks look simple, but enriched their HK staying with meaning. Members from different nations, coming together at the centre, have a chance to enhance their social network, leading to cultural exchange and knowledge sharing.
I asked “Where do humans come from?” Stephen replied, “They come from bacteria!” I followed up with, “Then where’s did the first bacteria comes from?” and he replied, “From carbon dioxide.” I continued, “Then where’s the first carbon dioxide comes from? …” Vision First is not only a center providing tangible services and a support network, but also a library of knowledge. Here we have lessons almost everyday, most of them are not basic, but advanced courses. Most of our members are well-educated and I have been learning from them. The conversation above is the start of a discussion about the source of life and it soon shifted from biology to philosophy. It gave me a huge inspiration, namely, that social service should break through its traditional barrier. It is more than a mere give-take relationship – volunteers, workers and the organization itself can benefit from this large pool of talents, that initially came for assistance. Contrary to how other NGOs, or even the government perceives them, this group of asylum seekers and refugees is indeed a pool of talent. Considering humanity and morality, their loss is a great loss for both parties, both HK and refugees. It is regrettable how they must live in miserable, sub-divided rooms, with unaffordable rents, barred from employment, wasting their good talents and even labeled “fortune seekers.” As Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Recently I have been planning a football training program for the Vision First Team. I can see their passion even when they play recreationally among themselves – they treat it like a competition and will not give up ball control until they score. Football is an international language and, may I say, more international than English. I am a person who does not easily share his feelings, nor have I deeply investigated their traumatic past, however, football has already allowed friendship to grow between me and these Somali players. Speaking of men, although most of refugees are male (female refugees are more vulnerable in physical and biological terms), I believe men are more stereotyped by society, which is cross-cultural. They are expected to be strong and not express their emotions, which could be interpreted as weakness or uselessness. Therefore, men are more likely to refrain from voicing their emotional and psychological needs, which diminishes their chances to get help. This observation motivated me to launch a “Male Support Group” for our members, to give them strength to move on during this forced, long and hard stay in Hong Kong.
I can develop and achieve things I never did before, thanks to Vision First’s working environment and its open attitude towards new ideas. For me, Vision First is more than just a services centre, it is a global village, an international hub, a library of knowledge and culture, and a perfect place to learn and to put into practice what you learn. Thank you very much – Kashu
Hundreds of hot dinners, countless educational classes and access to excellent medical and dental services, these are just a few of the vital services that help Vision First transform the lives of refugee in Hong Kong. For three years, volunteers at Vision First have been supporting and empowering refugees and today we joyfully celebrate our 3rd anniversary!
The Vision First Team wishes to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt … Thank you … to everyone who stood behind us!
With the support and passion of the community, we are able to provide many essential services, such as food, shelter and health- care, among many others. Thank you for providing the opportunity, resources and power to support our members. In the last three years, with your dedication and passion, Vision First has developed from a hopeful idea into a major contributor to the refugee community. Finally, we offer a very special Thank you to the wonderful volunteers who gave their time, expertise and LOVE – you are the fuel that flames our fire !!!
Always leading by innovation, Vision First is pleased to announce Hong Kong first “Refugee Health Clinic”. This new program includes medical examinations, medicines and referrals for refugees, whose suffering is frequently prolonged by bigotry and suspicion against darker skin prevalent at public hospitals. Indeed, the motivation behind this initiative is the racial wedge, contrary to the Hippocratic Oath, perpetuating a two-tier medical service that makes non-ID-card-holders feel most unwelcome at emergency rooms. These are the only facilities available to those who cannot book public or private doctors. After collaborative talks with Dr. Fan Ning an independent service was launched to meet refugees’ medical needs. The difficulties refugees encounter at hospitals are well-known and hard to address: racism, discrimination, cultural ignorance, hands-off examinations, welfare misinformation, cashier restrictions and the bitterly lamented “Panadol Solution”, i.e. one medication for any illnesses from cancer or sore throat.
Today we are proud to launch a pilot program to bring expert medical care to our members, first, and the broader refugee community, later. Dr. Fan Ning (Surgeon Yan Chai Hospital, President MSF Hong Kong) will set up a mobile clinic at our First Street center on alternate Saturdays (every Saturday from mid July) with volunteer doctors, nurses, essential instrument and medication. This primary care will include: medical consultation and examination, health education on hygiene and lifestyle, referral system, medication and follow-ups in person and by phone/email. An initial team of volunteer doctors and nurses will be expanded to meet the needs of members and non-members following a six month pilot program that will start on 2 June 2012. We are now looking for citizen volunteers to help coordinate this activity that will develop into one of our service backbones in the coming months. Finally, dear members, if you need to see the doctor, please SMS your case-worker to make an appointment – thank you.
Many school children shed sweat and tears to pursue the privilege of a top university education. But only a lucky few will make the grade and then they will have to fund it. The tech world however is full of visionaries intent on disrupting traditional establishments. BBC Click’s Sumi Das reports on a brand new project which is already causing ripples around the globe as it is making a top notch education available to anyone, anywhere and for free.
“I have waited many years to see something like this that would empower working people, poor people, and isolated ones, to learn at the top level from the best in a more accessible way.”