Dear supporters of Vision First – Life is an open school where we can learn many meaningful lessons. I am an asylum-seeker from Africa and have been in HK for almost 4 years. Today I would like to share with all my friends, refugees, asylum-seekers, and why not, even HK government, immigration, churches, NGOs across this city. Today I would like to share my thoughts with all of you. In fact , one of the greatest lessons I have learned through my journey is about gratitude. The words THANK YOU are defined as a grateful feeling, an acknowledgment of a benefit or a favor. These words “Thank You” and my more familiar “Merci” in French are very meaningful and contain all the ingredients for a grateful and purposeful existence.
That being said, I would like to openly thank HK government, immigration, churches and NGO for every single help refugees have received from you. I am filled with this heart of gratitude and thanksgiving toward you. Hong Kong is doing for us what our countries did not or could not do. Most of us are living now in a better conditions in HK rather than when we were back home. Yes, we have been rejected, abandoned and disappointed by our leaders back home. So I ask myself: what did our leaders in Africa invest in our lives? Do we need to blame HK government for everything we are not receiving right now? Instead of developing a language of ingratitude, please let’s come back to our senses and have the humility to say a heartfelt and sincere: thank you Hong Kong for everything you have done and continue to do for us refugees !!! – Isware
The New York Times, June 2, 2012
Around the world, some 42.5 million vulnerable people were forcibly out of their homes and on the move in 2011, according to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. There are growing concerns that those numbers will get even worse in the face of armed conflicts and political violence that are increasingly exacerbated by climate change, population growth, rising food prices, natural disasters and struggles for scarce resources. According to António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, Africa and Asia are the most vulnerable regions. But new crises are appearing unpredictably — in the past year, thousands have been driven from their homes in Syria, Sudan, Mali, Yemen and Côte D’Ivoire — and will continue to grow. Since 2005, the agency’s caseload has expanded — from about 24 million, mostly internally displaced persons and refugees, to roughly 37 million at the end of 2010.
Today’s environment is also more chaotic. Instead of negotiating with governments for humanitarian access, the agency often must deal with multiple actors, including warlords and rebels and breakaway regions, even less subject to international pressure, law or shaming. The risk for aid workers and the displaced has increased. There is also a crisis of political will. The international community, preoccupied with financial and domestic crises, has been less willing to help — whether with money or diplomacy or offers of asylum. Take the 7.2 million refugees considered to be in “protracted exile,” meaning they may never go home again. The report said that everybody involved — host countries, countries of origin and donors — “seem less able to work together to find solutions.” There are no easy answers, but certain strategies stand out. In 2010, 94 percent of all resettled refugees went to just four countries: Australia, Canada, Sweden and the United States, which takes more than any other country. Surely there are scores of others that can also open their doors. Better systems for predicting crises and quickly responding to natural and man-made disasters would also help. As ever, the best solution is for the world to do a better job of pre-empting conflicts in the first place.
Where can my child receive free tutoring classes? Where can I get free legal advice? Where can I receive free counseling services? If refugees in Hong Kong ever want to know the answers to these questions and more, visit our multi-lingual YouTube channel It provides useful information on legal and welfare matters. We interviewed social workers, academics and NGOs who have extensive knowledge of the refugee situation in Hong Kong,
Before recording the videos, we spent some time speaking with refugees to find out what information would be useful while in Hong Kong, in particular for those who are new to the city. One of our videos asks: “What do I do if I need to see a doctor?” Given the complicated process, having it explained in a video will help. The videos on legal issues clarify in simple language what CAT is, outline refugee rights, and much more.
Language can be a barrier, especially since refugees come to Hong Kong from all over the world. For each video, we added transcripts that can be translated with YouTube’s captions function so that videos are more accessible to people more comfortable in other language. This means you can click on the captions button on the bottom right of each video and turn on subtitles available in over 40 languages including French, Hindu, Urdu, etc.
The channel is created for refugees currently living in Hong Kong. We hope that by providing important and vital information on a friendly platform, we will make refugees’ lives a little easier. The channel is only as good as its audience. It’s only useful if the videos are watched by the refugee community. Please comment and give us feedback. If you find any information missing or have any suggestions, please let us know. We want it to be as useful as possible.
* The channel was supported through a Hong Kong University Knowledge Exchange grant of HKD$3,000.