Saturday, April 05, 2008

Refugee Kids

We have an interesting bunch in our laboratory today. 12 little refugee claimants.

This is a collaboration between our own Community Outreach Merit Program (COMP) and Christian Action - in which COMP offer information technology-related camps for the children of asylum seekers in Hong Kong.

Asylum seekers arriving in Hong Kong can apply to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and are resettled in a third country if successful. The process can take several years, during which time their survival is a challenge. Christian Action helps them with their basic needs, through their Chungking Mansions Service Center.

These children are mainly from Africa and South Asia: Congo, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, ... These dreadlock tells us instantly they are not the same children that we usually see in Hong Kong. But they are just as sweet, curious, vivacious, and fun loving as any kids, if not more so. Once you meet them and get to know them a bit, it is hard not to love them. Some of them are really beautiful, with strong, elegant features. It is a pity I cannot show you their faces.

Many of them are not allowed to attend schools because of problems with their status in Hong Kong. Those who are allowed to cannot attend Chinese medium schools because they cannot speak Chinese. And obviously they cannot afford to attend international schools or English School Foundation schools. So they end up in some of the lower-end English medium schools.

We (mostly our staff and students, actually) teach them how to take photos with cameras, and to use the photos to make comic strips on the computer. We all have a lot of fun. Our aim to give them some interesting things to do, and to teach them a little something useful.

We are volunteers and we need more volunteers.

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