Sitting in at the Vision First centre as an intern for a week I learnt a lot about the refugee situation in Hong Kong. Being able to sit in and watch the comings and goings of the centre I saw how a lot of refugees handled their lives in Hong Kong, and a lot of the problems that they face. Everyday I would see different people coming into the office for appointments with their case-workers, and at first I was shocked by the amount of people coming in, I guess personally I had never really been aware of how prominent refugee issues were and how many people were affected. Watching people walk in and out of the centre I was able to see the many needs of refugees in Hong Kong; sometimes people came in for money, sometimes clothes, food, advice or just company.
Working in at the office I saw that there was a strong refugee community in Hong Kong, and I saw that there had to be, refugees and asylum seekers face a lot of pressure in Hong Kong, with no legal right to work, further their education, buy medication on top of the additional tension of discrimination from Hong Kong people there has to be a place where people can go to get support and help. During my time as an intern I was set tasks to research refugee related articles. From all this I learnt what was lacking in Hong Kong policy towards refugees; Hong Kong does not have its own official protocol towards determining refugee status making the process of being officially recognized as a refugee long and arduous. Watching people walking in and out of the centre I saw some of the effects of the legal restrictions placed on refugees. One of the major problems is boredom, a result of not being allowed to work combined with the long wait for refugee status there’s not really much to look forward to and it can be difficult to find things to do to keep occupied. Vision First provides activities to help refugees relieve their boredom and is welcomes facilitators to conduct activities such as I.T. training and art which can be both therapeutic and educational for members, especially those with PTSD and depression.
As an intern in the centre I learned a lot about how the organization itself was managed. I learnt a lot about the different programs and how they string together to support and strengthen the organization as a whole. At my school, charity work is very important, however we only concentrate on the fundraising side, at the centre I was able to see concerns on how the money was distributed and the different considerations in how and where it would be distributed. Although my time at Vision First was only a short week, I felt that I learnt a lot about the refugee situation in Hong Kong and was able to experience, watch and learn a lot from being at the centre
Tien, 17 – Chinese International School