My name is RM, from West Africa, and I have been a political refugee in Hong Kong for five years already. I speak for dozens of dear friends when I say that, as days turn into weeks and weeks into months, we keep asking ourselves what will happen to our lives. We cannot return home for fear of persecution and death … we cannot travel to another country and … crucially, we aren’t allowed to lead a normal, productive life here. We are living with faith and hope that the light at the end of this tunnel is a bright, unexpected solution and not an oncoming train!
My beloved mother taught me to always look on the bright side of life, but sometimes that bright side is so stained that there is nothing to see. We all believe in God and pray to him daily to make our lives here on earth and beyond better. Even as we pray to our different gods, we understand that success in anything will always equate with our effort. I often look back at the fateful time when I decided to oppose my corrupt government and, in a matter of days, security agents were hunting me down with sinister intentions. That forced me to escape, if I cared to remain alive. While I succeeded to save my life, that decision brought nothing but failure and suffering. I often wonder how things would have worked out if I didn’t care about my people’s rights and my country’s future. Maybe I would still be at home, with family, with friends and with hope for tomorrow.
We talk about life-changing-events, well, let me assure you that life can change in a matter of seconds and sometimes we hardly have time to calculate our choices critically. Time remains our biggest enemy as we cannot go back and undo the worst decisions we made in life. In a way, we are trapped in the prison of our mistakes, like jumping into a river and being carried helpless into dangerous currents. The river might carry us away from enemies, but can you hear the raging rapids ahead? Still I have hope. Still I have faith. I must move forward no matter what, as everything that happens in the world will be accounted for, if not today, then at a time beyond our knowledge.
All in all – no matter the suffering endured – we have to be thankful to be alive, even if life itself is the only blessing that remains. In the darkness of my desolate existence, I want to remain positive. I accomplish this by making a difference for those around me. That’s why I volunteer at charities to help my brothers and sisters who walk hopefully at my side. No effort is wasted, no matter how insignificant it might appear to our anguished mind. I am determined to survive, so that one day I can look back with a smile and say, “Life was nothing like what I expected, but I spent my time well. I don’t regret the decision I made, as along the way I learnt to help others and I met some wonderful people. Failure is not being knocked down, but not rising up again. God knows I keep doing my best!”
Now I would like to dedicate this letter to my refugee friends, reminding them to be proud of being survivors. Perhaps these words describe you best: “The most beautiful people we have know are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen, they struggle into being.” I cannot offer you my picture, but this poor tree captures the essence of my being: it too was tragically trapped on the stairway of life – with no way up and no way down!
“Oh I am so so happy for your good letter! And thank you for encouragement. Let’s meet once and talk, yes, my friend, I am happy also to get brothers here in Hong Kong. There is a proverb in our language, let me try to translate in my bad English, “A neighbour or friend who is close to you is more good than a brother who is so far from you”. So my friend Vision First, stay strong! One time we will find a smile and light, because now we have survived. Even if we are not yet stable, but one time we will be okay. I believe in GOD!” – a VF shelter member