Our mission is to help increase outreach to refugees in Hong Kong, as well as to help them access various social services and thereby better integrate within HK society.
The refugee issue in Hong Kong is dire. Hong Kong is home to 14,000 asylum-seekers fleeing from mostly from the South Asian countries Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, who are still awaiting the determination of their claims and their resettlement. Until they are resettled, they are forced to live in harsh living conditions, as although they may be educated and possess various skillsets, they are legally forbidden to work. Instead, they have to rely on the monthly stipends, which are very meagre and not enough for them to meet their basic needs in this expensive city.
These allowances include housing, HK$1,500; utilities, HK$300; food (supermarket coupons) HK$1,200); and a few hundred HK dollars for transportation. All of which are the bare minimum one could live upon. As for education, financial support is only given to refugee children ages 6 and above, causing 3-5 year olds to not have any preparation for early childhood education. If they choose to apply to kindergarten, the Student Finance Office takes months to process their claims and demands them to pay the tuition in advance and reimburse them later, which is unrealistic as the families do not have income to cover these fees.
Indeed, the government provides services for them yet they are all scattered across Hong Kong, and often refugees are isolated in distant communities where the rent is cheaper. This results in their lack of cultural community support, and in addition, they often face social stigma and discrimination. Therefore, my initiative to fundraise for transportation funds and ultimately pitch to transport corporations in HK for permanent transport discounts is a way to connect with them and build a strong Hong Kong.
There have been other projects that similarly help refugees, such as providing them with language classes, leisure activities and fundraising projects to help foster a community. These are all meaningful in their own way, however they lack the sustainable aspect of my project, as permanent transport discounts will be able to help them long term.
I am Katie, a student at Chinese International School Hong Kong. I first learned about Hong Kong's refugee situation through my school's Hong Kong Experience Human Rights Program, during which I had the opportunity to speak to refugees. I have volunteered at the Refugee Union previously, leading bimonthly Cantonese classes for refugee children. The class size is around 20 kids and a session is about 1.5 hours. For more information, please visit my website: https://howc2020.wixsite.com/refugeeproj
All of the donations will proceed to the Refugee Union, founded in 2014 with the aim to safeguard asylum seekers and refugee’s basic rights, improve their current standard of living and better their future prospects. They provide various means of social and financial support for refugees to ensure their wellbeing and allow them to come together and form their own community. The organization has partnered with Vision First, Feeding HK, Justice Center and various other NGOs. (http://www.refugeeunion.org/)