Tracing back along the path that led us to discover the entrapment of hundreds of refugees in makeshift, decadent and dangerous slums, some photos, that in hindsight fill us with emotions, testifies to a bitter end that might have been avoided.
On 23 August 2013 we first met Lucky, a quiet Sri Lankan refugee later risen to prominence in the news for his tragic end in the flames that destroyed the shack where he lived.
The photos below show the decorum, sought after by an individual who did not surrender to living as an animal in a converted pigsty. Basic furniture, collected from the waste of our consumerist society, cleaned and tidied for functional use hide the precariousness of a structure that an indecent toilet and metal walls cannot deny. Really it is hard to comprehend how such structures were officially approved for human living.
On our first encountered we were welcome by a man who had heard of the advocacy of Vision First and showed us our website as a way to prove that he was a keen supporter. Too many times his complaints had been ignored by others, taken as the rattle of a disbeliever in the moment of episcopal blessing – a mortal heresy.
Lucky was condemned to believing he was a reject for he was taken as a liar, a reality refugees endure, at times passively, by withdrawing in the comfort of the simple huts they call home, to which they grow attached, caring for its cleanness, refusing to be thrown in the rental market without having the means to compete for proper housing.
Today we contemplate these photos, before and after a tragedy that could have been avoided had there been a willingness to treat everyone with sympathy and dignity irrespective of immigration status. Regrettably it is too late for Hong Kong to offer Lucky the respect he was due. Rest in peace, brother!