Life has been extremely difficult since I arrived in Hong Kong six years ago – in my country I was physically tortured, here I’m tortured psychologically every single day. It’s like beating a child, while forcing him to stop crying for the pain. I survive in dreadful circumstances with no improvement in legal status, profession or education. Although people talk about progress, giving food to a hungry man, is not an improvement; forcing him to finding shelter without money, is not improvement. After six years living like a beggar, I have two suggestions: a) it is better to allow a person to earn his food, than offer him handouts; 2) it is better to teach a person to build, than to confine him to a dilapidated shelter. Sadly I’m one of the refugee veterans who suffered through the awful years around 2004, when the government left us fending for ourselves, living off our guts. People might ask: “With the services offered by ISS today, you are still complaining about your suffering?” But allow me to reply: “My culture says that a man must always sweat before he eats. But the situation I find myself in now shows that I am a woman. Why am I forced to stare helpless at my daily needs like at a woman at a dressing mirror? I should be respected for being a man capable of taking care of himself – instead of begging through life.
Memories of the atrocities I fled have tortured me for years, yet nothing has changed. I escaped to Hong Kong, but my hardship worsened. Back home my life was endangered by fanatics, here it is endangered by poverty. I live in misery and I know I have no civil rights, no economic rights, no future, no hope! When we were released by Immigration, we were thrown into the streets without assistance from the UNHCR, Caritas or any charity. We were expected to survive by ourselves in a foreign city, yet prohibited from working to earn a living. The hardship we endured was so shocking, it’s etched in my mind forever. Even bus drivers were extraordinarily rude to us and got away with abuse it pains me to recall – speak of kicking a man when he’s down! Sometimes we had only 2$ for the ferry to Wanchai, so we had to walk the whole way from Meifoo to TST and then home again, just to sign a weekly Immigration report. Those years were so humiliating and harsh they made me wonder if death at home would have been less of a curse!
Today I’m profoundly frustrated. I don’t know when and how my life will continue. The situation is dragging on forever! There’s no option even after a successful torture claim, as it only guarantees we won’t be deported, without permitting work to lift ourselves out of grinding poverty. We have friends who would assist us with employment or education, but without legal permission – which is impossible to get – these opportunities remain a rainbow. At least if we could further our education [I’m a university graduate and was a teacher in my country] we would be ready to face the future. Why deny us even education? We can’t work. We can’t study. We can’t volunteer. Why does the government want to trap us? Months and years are fleeting by and I feel my life is rolling backwards faster and faster. I’m getting older. I’m losing touch. I’m forgetting my skills and knowledge. I’m losing confidence I’ll ever manage to escape this vortex of abandonment which is sucking me deeper into an abyss of despair. I feel a prison is expanding from within, incarcerating my brain as well as my hope. If I could be granted one single wish, it would be that the Hong Kong government reflect on our plight and show us some understanding and kindness, so that we might remember this city fondly when we manage to rebuild someplace, sometime, a life full of meaning.