This week’s blog and the accompanying illustrations are by Kathleen Lau, a former Justice Centre volunteer who assisted with our Voices for Protection advocacy traineeship for refugees. Kathleen is currently pursuing the Master in Law and Development (LLM) programme at the University of Melbourne.
The “force” is an energy field which is created by, surrounds and penetrates all living things and binds them together (at least in the fictional universe of Star Wars). I have always believed I have that force in me. Okay, I’ll admit I am a geek. But isn’t the idea that your life can light up the life of another person epically poetic? When I smile, storm clouds will be chased away; when I sing, animals and plants will dance along…
So maybe I can’t actually do those things. But I do have other superpowers – I have empathy in my chest, the voice of reason in my mouth, the strength to fight against injustice in my arms and, most importantly, the ability to speak Cantonese under my utility belt. These qualities are not at all unique, you say? Actually, I do believe many fellow Hongkongers also have the force and these superpowers. We have always been compassionate and charitable – when disaster strikes, we open our hearts and donate generously; we have fought, and are still fighting, relentlessly and fiercely, against various unfair systems and rules in our city; we are peaceful, rational, willing to listen to and debate with different opinions. But just because these qualities are commonly found doesn’t mean they aren’t precious or extra-ordinary.
There is a group of people in our city currently in distress, waiting for us to understand their struggle and to take with them a stand against years of difficulties in Hong Kong. Our superpowers, if used, can shelter people fleeing from wars and persecutions; if used, can alleviate the hardships faced by the people that are seeking asylum in our city; if used, can dispel myths and stereotypes that are causing ridicule, discrimination and neglect against refugees and asylum seekers; if used, can make the voices of this marginalised group of people heard to the local Hong Kong Chinese community.
These seemingly small powers have the potential to make great changes, but only if they are used, and channeled by a lot of people at the same time. When I first started volunteering at Justice Centre, I was surprised, and a little bit ashamed, that I was one of only a few Hong Kong-Chinese people there. Whereas the expatriate staff and volunteers from all different countries in Justice Centre are all professional, passionate and capable superpeople and deserve the utmost respect and appreciation for their work in their own right, the league for justice is just not complete without the active participation from the local Hong Kong Chinese community. First of all, and to get the cliché out of the way, since we have such amazing superpowers, we have great responsibility to use it for good deeds. But more importantly, equipped with the language skill and cultural knowledge, a Chinese-speaking Hongkonger is also the most ideal person to act as the bridge between the local Hong Kong Chinese community and the refugee community. Refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong are eager to interact with the local people in a positive way; they treat Hong Kong as a part of them and are longing to be treated as a part of it (see the Vision for Change of the first intake of Voices for Protection). If a small number of us take the reaching hands of the refugees, help in magnifying and translating their voices, it is already a big step towards a more just society. You can be the force that binds people together.
You now have a chance to make use of your force and superpowers to help the refugee community in our city – Justice Centre is currently recruiting for volunteers for the Justice Centre Advocates Network.
你仲唔快啲行動? (Translation: How can you not act immediately?)
Justice Centre is excited to launch Justice Centre Advocates Network to offer our supporters the opportunity to get more involved in our work on an ad hoc basis. The network will mobilise like-minded and passionate individuals to take action and support Justice Centre in raising awareness of issues faced by forced migrants in Hong Kong. Submit an online application by September 6, 2015 at www.justicecentre.org.hk/advocatesnetwork.
The views expressed in this blog represent the personal views of the author/s and do not necessarily represent the views, opinions or policy of Justice Centre Hong Kong.