Dearest Friends –
Due to family obligations, I’m visiting a country thousands of refugees attempt to reach on a perilous journey that claims lives weekly – mostly unidentified, unrecorded and thus removed from global awareness. Here it is hard to comprehend the reality behind Vision First’s mission: that Asylum Seekers are the people who suffer the most vicious events mankind inflicts, yet courageously believe that, despite its horrors, life is still worth living. You have taught me that nobody chooses to be a refugee. Through loss of country, family, support and time, your exile is a terrible experience: disjointing, bewildering, disheartening and utterly lonely. Yours is an existence both geographically alien and mentally hostile, a constant morning for relatives abandoned, family you couldn’t save and children missed desperately – through no fault of your own!
While words always fail, a noted psychiatrist explained it this way: “Imagine being a child in a loving, happy family. Your mother loves you, feeds you, smiles at you, hugs you. But you wake up one morning to find that she no longer appears to know who you are. She doesn’t smile. She doesn’t even look at you. You cry, you laugh, you make noises. She remains withdrawn and silent. All that was familiar and safe has gone.” What that child experiences is how you feel day and night: a fracture, a haunting, a shattering you are forced to endure because there simply is no other option.
I have ‘accompanied’ you for two years and, believe me, your welfare and future are my concerns every waking hour. Thank you for the TRUST you have shown. Thank you for SHARING your suffering, worries and hopes. Thank you for the INSPIRATION and purpose you give my life. We have only started this journey together, but I promise to work assiduously to improve your life in Hong Kong and, maybe, even facilitate your transition to a secure future elsewhere. This year was essential in building our relationships, deepening friendships and deciding which programs are most urgent. Together we have engaged the community, gaining essential support which will grow exponentially in 2011, when we open our FIRST OFFICE and shelters after Chinese New Year. Thanks to a benefactor’s invaluable gift, we will have a homebase to meet, brainstorm and develop our services. Vision First is yours! Our center is yours! Our programs, efforts and donations will better your lives and, hopefully, rectify some injustices suffered. We need your dedication to make our foudation a greater success, to jointly expand our humanitarian reach and put more lives on a tollerable footing.
It is Christmas today, but this is not a Christmas message. It’s a poignant opportunity to reflect on a remarkable year and realize Christmas is not a date, but a state-of-mind – it can be everyday for some or never for others. Christmas is realizing anyone’s suffering diminishes our collective dignity, as society will also be judged by how generously it supports the exiles it welcomes.