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Refugee Union wishes a Happy Easter to all! A special thanks to the students from Hong Kong Polytechnic University who spent their Easter weekend with the children of Refugee Union. The university students planned fantastic Art and Cantonese classes for the children, with an additional focus on sharing and building good character. Thank you again to the students from Hong Kong Polytechnic University! For those interested in volunteering their time and expertise with Refugee Union, you are welcome to get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations that refugees are currently seeking include: rice cookers, diapers for babies, and laptops. Used rice cookers and laptops in good condition are welcome, as well. Thank you!
March has a been a busy and fortifying month at Refugee Union. Thank you to all who attended Drink for Justice 5 at P&P, a fantastic new Italian restaurant in Sheung Wan. With over 50 guests, attendees enjoyed comedy and libations to raise funds for the refugee community of Hong Kong. Look out for more information on April’s Drink for Justice event – we hope to see you there!
Refugee Union Monthly meeting
Refugee Union (RU)’s March Monthly meeting took place on March 12 at Refugee Union in Sai Ying Pun. The meeting was well-attended, and RU members raised several issues, including concerns over deportation, low living stipends, and needs for more humane monthly allotments of necessary household items. Members also voiced deep gratitude for donations of clothes and food. Always-needed donation items include baby formula, diapers, and household cleaning products. Thanks to donors in advance!
Painting and Knitting Classes
This month, kind individuals have donated their time and expertise to Refugee Union by hosting painting and knitting classes for refugee children in Hong Kong. On Friday nights, young participants have been able to hone their artistic skills with help from painting and knitting instructors, creating beautiful works of visual and textile art. We look forward to continued opportunities for collaboration with the greater Hong Kong community.
Cultural Diversity Playgroup
Refugee Union’s Cultural Diversity Playgroup has been a great success, with babies, toddlers, and families coming together in a spirit of mutual support and solidarity. Playgroup has now moved to every other Tuesday (used to be Wednesday) from 11 AM-12 PM at Refugee Union Office, 3/F, 102 First Street Sai Ying Pun. All families with young children (baby and toddler-aged) are welcome to join! The next playgroup will be March 27th.
One of the biggest issues acutely affecting asylum seekers in Hong Kong is the city’s stark economic inequality. Rent and food prices hit asylum seekers especially hard because of the inadequate housing and food vouchers received from International Social Service (ISS-HK) an NGO funded by the Hong Kong government. Asylum seekers receive only HK $1,200 per month in food vouchers (HK $40 a day for all 3 meals), and HK $1,500 per person for rent paid directly to the landlord. These amounts are impossibly low for any person trying to survive in Hong Kong. For asylum seekers, whose applications for refugee status in Hong Kong can take years, even over a decade, to process, many have no choice but to seek income when trying to adequately support themselves, or their families in Hong Kong.
Drink for Justice 4
Last month’s Drink For Justice event was “smooth sailing” at Fishteria in Wan Chai. With excellent food and drink, as well as fantastic art and music, over 40 professionals, refugees, and concerned citizens came together to discuss pressing social issues and voice solidarity for the refugee community of Hong Kong. Thanks to Josh Tam for the amazing photography of the event!
Please join us for our next Drink for Justice event on March 15th, 6:30-9 PM, at P&P in Sheung Wan. Stand-up comedy performances for the brave, and delicious Italian food and drink for all. See you there!
Refugee Union’s February Monthly Meeting
This month’s meeting was a successful gathering despite the cold weather. Refugee Union (RU) members discussed the current programming at RU (join us at the next baby/toddler cultural diversity playgroup Wednesday February 28th, 11-12 PM, at Refugee Union!) as well as continued concerns and challenges of living as a refugee in Hong Kong. The recent deportation of 68 Vietnamese asylum seekers in December deeply shook the larger refugee community. Families especially worry about being separated from children who are born in Hong Kong if their cases for asylum are rejected.
Thank you for the donations of winter clothes and blankets! We are continuing to accept donations of diapers, baby formula and food. Other necessary items we are accepting include assorted cleaning products, tissues, and toilet paper. These products are essential in any household, but refugees receive only 1 roll of toilet paper from ISS…for a whole month. Refugees may only purchase certain food items at Park n’ Shop, meaning that they are restricted from purchasing many necessary household items, like dish soap. Thank you for your ongoing support!
On Tuesday, 23 January, Refugee Union members, along with members of Socialist Action, protested outside the Cheung Sha Wan government offices in support of continuing tuition subsidies for refugee children. Currently the government office has delayed these necessary subsidies, leaving refugee children and their families in limbo. These subsidies are essential so that refugee children may have equal access to quality education. Refugees in Hong Kong are prohibited from working in the city, and thus cannot afford to pay the increasingly expensive tuition fees charged by schools here. Refugee Union believes that quality education and child care are human rights, and that government spending must be increased in these areas. Refugee Union opposes the Hong Kong government’s accelerating privatization of education. This government action disproportionately affects the refugee community, and is detrimental to all who reside in Hong Kong.
On 8 January, Refugee Union (RU) held its first monthly meeting of 2018. Though the weather was quite cold, members and visitors showed up in force. RU members discussed ongoing issues and concerns. One of the most pressing issues for refugees continues to be legal battles for recognition of refugee status here in Hong Kong, and fear of deportation back to dangerous situations in home countries. Such legal battles cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for refugees and their families here. Parents especially worry about the future of their children, and how to raise healthy and happy children here in Hong Kong in the midst of this stress and uncertainty.
Other issues discussed included raising awareness about the recent apartment rent increases. While rent has gone up, housing allowances for refugees have not. Since refugees are prohibited from working in Hong Kong, they are particularly affected by the high living expenses here.
Lastly, members discussed how to continue funding for ongoing and new programming here at Refugee Union. Cash donations will go a long way in order to provide for language classes, kids’ classes, playgroup, and more. Refugees have skills to share and develop with the greater Hong Kong community. Invest in refugees in Hong Kong. For more information, please email email@example.com.
The Community at Refugee Union has been celebrating the holidays this December in a variety of ways. On the 9th of December, students at the West Harbor School organized a Christmas party for RU families. The event was a great success, and with activities like face-painting, gift exchanges, and arts and crafts, plus a visit from Santa, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
On the 16th of December, RU members, volunteers, donors, and friends came together at the Refugee Union office to celebrate the holiday season. There was lots of delicious food and fellowship to be had. Many many thanks to our donors who sponsored this event.
Thank you so much to all of our supporters this holiday season! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!