I remember, not long after I started my job at Justice Centre, going to deliver a talk about refugees at a prestigious international school here. I asked the mostly local Hong Kong audience if any of them had ever met a refugee before. No hands went up. I then asked if any of them had grandparents or other relatives who had fled from China to Hong Kong during the Civil War or Cultural Revolution. Many hands went up.
We are so proud to see our third intake of our Voices for Protection traineeship graduating next week. Voices for Protection is a twelve-week traineeship where refugees from different backgrounds learn how to advocate for their own rights in a safe and professional manner.
I came across a comment piece in the SCMP a few days ago that really struck a chord with me. The writer, Joyce Man, talks about the weak policy and assistance currently offered to refugees, despite the fact that the Hong Kong we have today has been “built on the backs of refugees”.
Friends, At the end of April, after more than three years, I will leave my position as Executive Director at Justice Centre Hong Kong. My heart is heavy: letting go of something which I believe so strongly in, something which I’ve been a part of building, something which I still hold a vision for, of working with people I care about, is not easy for me.
Have you ever told a joke to someone who just did not get the punchline? Or shared an anecdote with someone of a different culture, and found that the crux of your story was lost in translation? And anyone learning Cantonese knows how easy it can be to erroneously insult someone instead of complimenting them.
Imagine, then, how it must be for refugees in Hong Kong, of various backgrounds and origins, many of whom do not speak any English let alone Cantonese.