No 54 – The slum with gold chairs

Post Date: Nov 27th, 2013 | Categories: Advocacy | COMMENT

“More than fifteen refugees lived here for years until three months ago. When ISS stopped paying rent, the landlord kicked everyone out!” said our guide as we entered this abandoned refugee ghetto. In a desolation reminiscent of the 2004 Tsunami, the only resident was a barking dog quickly chased away. Where did everyone go? Surely this ghost slum teamed with life before it trashed and destroyed.

The psychology of criminal offenders is predictable: when caught, escape and try to destroy traces of wrongdoing. The committal of offenses is only viable in secret. When exposed, criminals severe relations, run for cover and hastily dismantle the enterprise. Just as in a CSI show, evidence can be found in draws, suitcases and clothing pockets. The documents we collected prove a fruitful collaboration.

“I want to help these people because they have nowhere to stay. There is nothing they can rent for 1200$” is often the justification slum lords offer when their motivation is questioned. That would be true, if they acted with compassion. Inspecting abandoned sites like this one, there are reasons to believe that landlords are only after easy tax dollars, paid without due diligence by ISS-HK.

Each room still expresses the character and personality of its departed tenants. There are guitars, bicycles, stereos, tool-boxes, TV sets and unopened bottles of vodka. There are clothes, blankets and shoes strewn around – too many belongings for a homeless person to cart around. There are documents, personal photos, school books and DVDs scattered everywhere. People left in a hurry!

Every item speaks of shattered hopes and broken dreams of owners who left in despair.

Vision First shares the burden for this suffering. Hadn’t we exposed refugee ghettos, these residents would have been here to greet us. One cannot speak of collateral damage in humanitarian work. It breaks the heart to witness the harmful effects of hopeful advocacy. A process that attempts to improve collective wellbeing should not bring additional suffering to any single individual. That’s just not right.

Considering the ample government resources, financial and professional, why weren’t contingency plans made to avoid this crisis? Should human beings suffer because ISS-HK admits guilt by clamping down on its own slums? The damage is done and offenses are being documented. Why do refugees have to suffer twice, first when segregated in slums and then when thrown out in the streets?

Who’s in charge of this crisis? Will somebody step up and show leadership?

No. 54 – The slum with gold chairs

click above to see what happens when ISS-HK drops a refugee ghetto