My name is Mr. Doulle from East Africa (Horn of Africa.) I have been living in Hong Kong for two years. The obstacles I have faced in my twenty-four years are too tragic and awful to share with you in this letter. Anyone in the Developed World would find it hard to believe, if they don’t work with refugees from war-torn countries, where the insanity of the powerful thinks nothing of the weak. My ambition is to become a social worker and I believe that with some help this dream will come true. I remember when I was a child and my mother sent me to shop at the market, I met many vulnerable people, some sick, some old, some desperately poor and I often helped them with a little money my mother gave me for shopping, as I knew they were at the outer edge of despair.
When I grew up I witnessed such a flood of people, entering my region from Somalia’s capital city devastated by war, that I hardly recognized any dignity and humanity left in them. But what fault did these refugees have but to be caught between the guns of two bloodthirsty enemies? Unfortunately I could not support anyone as I didn’t have money or power to help and the wave of victims was too huge to be counted, let alone feed or assist. However, when I came to know some of these families I grew fond of them. I was deeply disappointed I couldn’t find them homes or meals, though many were women, children and elderly. I realized my government was powerless to intervene and it troubled me that my community was not mobilizing to prevent the prolonged suffering of these refugees.
I started asking myself this question more and more often: there are many citizens who are helping these people on their own, because they care, so why don’t I assist? These community volunteers are not from the government, they are not social workers, so why can’t I do it too? You don’t have to be trained to help suffering people. You just have to have the heart and courage to stand up and make a difference. Maybe the government doesn’t care. Maybe most citizens don’t care, but some do and I want to be like them. I told myself: either I am one who helps – or I am not? The reality is that when I help somebody I feel so joyful. If I see somebody in need and do nothing about it, it affects me all night. I even can’t sleep because I failed to do what I could have done. For example, yesterday I passed an old man on Cheung Sha Wan Road who was carrying a box too heavy for his old age. I didn’t know how to offer my help in Chinese. I was afraid of scaring him or annoying him, so I walked on. I should have done something, because all night this man was bothering me in my sleep and I realized I missed the chance. My mind kept challenging me: why didn’t you help? What’s all these excuses? You should have helped!
I’m a UNHCR asylum-seeker in Hong Kong. The Immigration Department forced me to sign a paper when I was released from detention. It threatens me with “THREE YEARS IN PRISON AND HKD 50,000 FINE IF I DO ANY WORK, PAID OR UNPAID”, so I’m scared I will be caught helping somebody and jailed for “working unpaid.” You cant appreciate what this means unless you personally know for sure you will be tortured and executed if deported back to your country. You don’t want this to happen and the fear paralizes your actions. I’d rather waste years in depressing idleness, than run the risk. There are too many obstacles surrounding a refugee’s life and it’s impossible for me to pursue my dreams of becoming a social worker. I don’t have money, I don’t have a work permit. I don’t have friends or family to pay for the studies. I can’t even get a loan. I became homeless when I fled my village; I became stateless when I escaped my country; I became rightless when released from detention and now I am hopeless – allowed only to eat, to sleep and to walk pointlessly these foreign streets. What’s happened to my life? How can I live like this?
Now I believe I must study to become a social work, to help those who have lost hope and live in misery, isolation and rejection. I have the passion to help others, but I don’t have the money, power or education. I went to a charity NGO called Christian Action to presented my social work talent and I highly appreciate them for assisting me to attend a class once a week. I also wish to thank Vision First who gives me encouragement and support, as they look for an opportunity to turn my dreams into reality. Dear readers, I speak from my heart when I promise I can make a difference in the community, if you kindly support my social work studies. I believe it is essential for human beings to assist each other and meet the basic needs of the vulnerable among us, with particular attention to the most needy, those oppressed by poverty and hardship. My personal experience growing up in a conflict zone, encountering violence, torture, hunger, despair and death, gives me a unique insight into the needs of the refugees I will assist in future. Many have the education to do this work, but few have the understanding of a witness who survived these horrors himself. Thank you very much for reading my letter.