At 11:26 on Sunday morning – when all NGO workers enjoyed a day off – Vision First emailed the Social Welfare Department an urgent appeal. A Nepali family with a 1.5 year old child spent several days sleeping in a tent at Occupy SWD after being evicted by their landlord. ISS-HK failed to pay their rent in February and the landlord kicked them into the street last week.
Misery never sleeps for abused refugees, not even for five-month pregnant mothers. Mrs. Lama tried to contact her ISS case worker Helen Lee who was too preoccupied with keeping to the schedule to appreciate the plight of a distraught mother. Helen refused to meet Mrs. Lama.
Mrs. Lama’s family rented a tiny flat for 3000$, but ISS-HK only paid 2400$ despite the old rent allowance being exactly that amount (1200 for each adult + 600 for a child). For no other reason but reprehensible discrimination, this family was deprived of sufficient rent assistance – despite being prohibited from working.
SWD and ISS-HK make pregnant woman homeless with her 1.5 year old son.
Further, ISS-HK Helen Lee made no effort to deal with a greedy landlord who charged the family several hundred dollars cash a month for utilities, without bothering to claim the allowance from ISS-HK. Mrs. Lama’s pleas for assistance fell predictably on indifferent deaf ears.
On Sunday morning Vision First emailed the SWD, “The Refugee Union is extremely concerned about this vulnerable family with a 5 month pregnant mother. These are not the kind of *hardship* protesters that are needed at this protest site.”
ISS-HK treats worst the soft-spoken, insecure and amenable Asian families who do not know their rights. That is the modus operandi of a bully who has no respect for human suffering. What happened to this family is totally unacceptable under any circumstance, but particularly so in the cold of winter.
These past days, Mrs. Lama went to see a doctor at Queen Elizabeth Hospital but was refused care. Despite her advanced pregnancy, hospital staff told her to first sort things out with ISS-HK. However, Mrs. Lama lamented, “The ISS medical team was very rude to me and they refused to understand my problem or offer a solution. I was in much pain”
SWD and ISS-HK deny pregnant mother access to medical assistance.
At 22:30 on Sunday evening, Mrs. Lama felt ill and an ambulance was called to “Occupy SWD” to take her to hospital. It is shameful that nobody takes the plight of refugees seriously at SWD and ISS-HK. It is an affront to society that a pregnant mother should be homeless, living in a tent and collapsing outside.
It’s a travesty of justice that despite service enhancements and reviews, the weakest refugees are falling ill in the street without anyone taking responsibility. There is a complete service failure at ISS-HK and a troubling lack of communication between ISS-HK and SWD, the latter in a state of denial.
ISS-HK does not tell SWD about the wicked things it does to refugees and SWD does not exercise sufficient or any due diligence or oversight over what ISS-HK does. Only after Vision First intervenes to complain does SWD wake up and do something about the dangerous situations we report.
“God bless you my friend and your baby! I always see and meet you there at the protest. I wish all gonna be OK.” – SMS from another refugee mother.
Such inhumane, cruel treatment emboldens the Refugee Union to fight harder.