HK$35,185raised of HK$88,000.00 goal goal
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I set up this campaign to raise funds to pay for my friend Assan’s tuition fees and I really need your help to make this happen. Please donate as much as you can, so that we can hit our goal:
Total tuition fee due: USD 11,115 (HKD 88,000 approx. / GBP 9,000 approx.)
Some of you have met Assan, but you probably didn’t know that he is seeking asylum in Hong Kong.
He fled the Gambia in 2015 out of fear of prosecutions after he was arrested, detained, and subsequently charged by the authorities.
Why was he arrested:
In 2014 as an International Relations and Politics student he co-founded an organization called "Future Diplomats of the Gambia". The organization was formed with the aim of providing education to a country where the literacy rate was less than 50%, which made them susceptible to being manipulated by propaganda, religious rhetoric, and outdated traditions and norms.
Prior to this he was working as a tutor with the Gambian Red Cross and had the chance to work with the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Gambia to help support Refugees.
As the organization gained momentum, officials felt threatened by the anti-government sentiment and thus arrested 3 of the Executive members, which included Assan. He was detained for 25 days interrogated, tortured, and not permitted to communicate with his family.
He was released without being charged but then rearrested 6 days later and charged for:
1) Destabilizing the peace of the country.
2) Using public address system without a police permit.
3) Gathering without a permit.
He was given bail, but he was certain there wouldn’t be a fair hearing, and thus he would end up in jail and potentially tortured again. He knew he wouldn’t be able to survive that and so acted on advise to flee to Hong Kong.
Prior to meeting Assan, I had no idea that Hong Kong offered refuge.
Assan explained that they do as they are financially compensated for it. But they have no intention in processing the applications with any sense of urgency, and most people in similar circumstances end up here for years.
I learnt that Asylum seekers are not allowed to work or take any paying jobs in Hong Kong. Once you arrive in Hong Kong your case is registered, and you are put into a system called Unifying Screening Mechanism (USM) where you need to wait for the immigration office to evaluate the validity of your case.
The government provides the below monthly subsidies:
- HKD 1,700 for rent which goes directly to the landlord’s account.
- HKD 1,200 given in the form of food vouchers.
- HKD 200 for transport which is the only cash they receive per month.
A total of HKD 3,100 per month (USD 395 approx. / GBP 330 approx.).
Considering Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world, most asylum seekers / refugees are thus living well below the poverty line.
For the last 8 years Assan has tried to stay positive and continues to strive to be a better person. As he cannot work for financial gain, he has used his time to volunteer with the Crossroads foundation and Branches of Hope under the Vine Church. He has also taken part in mentoring refugee children and supporting them with school and social activities.
He also obtained a top up degree in Business Management, from the University of Sunderland Hong Kong Campus.
When I learnt this, I naturally wanted to help Assan, and started to do my own research on the plight of Asylum seekers/refugees in Hong Kong. I thought I could figure out the system and expediate his paperwork. Or maybe I could help him find a way to immigrate to Canada or Australia as I always here they are receptive to immigration.
I quickly learnt how impossible it is to navigate the system and how many hoops you are required to jump. I got exhausted and realized this is one problem that I just can’t solve.
I would often think about Assan and wondered how his life would turn out or how he would ever get out of this situation.
Then, on Thursday 9th February 2023 I received this message from Assan:
“Dear Eiman, I’m happy to share this good news with you. You can check the PDF documents for reference. First one is the admission letter, and the second is a Visa Approval Letter.
I got an offer from Asia Pacific University in Malaysia, and the school processed my student visa.
And from there I already notified HK Immigration of my desire to voluntarily close my asylum case and go for my masters in Malaysia.
A very good news for a boy with a big dream is closer, yet little far away considering my financial status. The whole program in Malaysia will cost about HKD 88K, excluding food and other stuff. I already raised part of it but still a long way to go.
It's a little embarrassing for a grown ass man to be asking for financial help, but the situation forced me to. This being the case, am seeking for support from anyone who is willing and happy to be a part of this journey.”
OMG!! I felt so much joy and happiness for Assan. Knowing his situation, I knew that this would be a life changing opportunity for him, and I immediately wanted to help.
I did of course need more details and so the questions were asked:
How much did you raise so far?
- HKD 26,000 (USD3,300 approx. / GBP2,750 approx.,)
OK, so if we can get around 125 people to give you HKD 500 you are pretty much sorted.
- I don’t have a big circle of friends.
You can create a go fund me page, cause most people would not be comfortable transferring money directly to your bank account. Cause they will think it’s a scam.
- This is why I only asked close friends, who know me and can access me anytime for verification.
So how come you gave up seeking asylum?
- It’s never ending. If I can go to Malaysia, I can start a new life, study, and work part time. This will be far better than staying here waiting.
Do you have proof you were an asylum seeker?
- Just my immigration paper (see attached.) This was all I was given, and it includes my visa and HKID.
Would you be comfortable if the funds are paid directly to the University rather than your bank account?
What happens after this program?
- I will always want to go back home to continue the fight that I started but this time hopefully more mature and skilled. I will fight for change not through political means, rather using all the academic experiences and life lessons I learned from Hong Kong to support community development by assisting entrepreneurs and start-ups. Hopefully lifting one person out of poverty at a time and making them financially independent from manipulative governments.
- The courses in this master’s program will help to fix a lot of issues, like introducing digital marketing and smart farming. Considering the lack of technological skills and digital marketing in Africa, this skill will enable me to support and help in introducing a new way within the community.
What are your plans if you don’t raise the money in time?
- I hope I can. I am contacting a few more friends and will go with whatever I get. The first instalment is around HKD40,000 but I want to make sure I can pay every dollar between me and the school for the whole master’s program, because I don’t want to be studying and thinking of how I am going to pay the rest etc.,
OK, let me ask a few friends and get back to you.
So, dear friends, I am asking if you can help.
We all have different starting points in life and sometimes one break has the potential to turn your life around for the better. Moving to Malaysia will have its challenges, but overall, I think he will have a better chance of building a life and regaining some dignity.
With your support I would really love to help Assan raise his entire tuition fee. He’s already done a lot of the hard work himself and has done everything right. I know that our act of kindness now will have a ripple effect in years to come as he is a do-gooder and once, he is in a better place he will hopefully pay it forward.
Please donate as much as you can and just know your generosity and compassion will always be returned ten-fold.
I’m so glad that I have you as a friend, and I know I can count on your support.
Thank you so much.
Lots of love
- Eiman Elkhalifa
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