When stepping into this process of taking action, I wanted a to choose a need of help group to help. I took a great interest in issues of refugees in Hong Kong and I wanted to see how I could improve their lives. In order to do this, I took action based on a question I wanted to research and investigate.

My research question was to see what extent could we improve refugees future lifestyles in Hong Kong?
The relevance of this question is that this year 14,000 asylum seekers have entered Hong Kong but with The current refugee acceptance rate as low as 0.6 percent, whereas in Europe it can be as high as 75%, It is clear that Hong Kong government does not welcome or support refugees. , us as citizens of this community should be more aware of this issue and strive to take action to add to our community thus improving the quality of life for these refugees and our own understanding of this issue. This is why I choose this community to help.

I did some research on refugee’s current lifestyles, to find small issues they currently face. A news article from the Times magazine mentioned how asylum seekers cannot work and the government only substance them with a small amount of money of $190 and $150 in rental and food allowances, thus forcing them to survive with just over 10 dollars a day!

The South China morning post reported that it is very difficult for refugee kids to have access to proper education because many public schools in Hong Kong reject them due to their race or because their parents can’t get them a birth certificate or passport.

I felt we could help them achieve a better future by resolving these basic problems in their life. Example, providing free food for them so they can make better use of their money given, or teaching young refugees, to give them a better education and a better shot in life. Thus putting them on a better path to a better future.

In order to take my action, I joined two organisations. Christian action and the Refugee union which I will talk more about later. During one of the cookouts, I talked to a refugee who gave me some insight. Firstly, he explained the common misconception people have between migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Migrants choose to move, yet refugees are forced to flee unless they want to face armed conflict or persecution, Asylum seekers are people who left their country, applied for refugee status and is still waiting to be approved. This guy was an asylum seeker, he told his story, about how he fled Afghanistan, and I was surprised as he sounded rather educated, then he told me he uses to be a lawyer but was forced to flee and lost his job and everything he built for himself. I learnt just because a person now is a refugee doesn’t mean they didn’t live a normal life before. He told me about the 5 basic factors that force a person to leave; social, ethnic, appearance (race), political and nationality. I also learned in another interview with a refugee mom that because money is so precious to them, they can’t afford to even lose money for transportation to take their children to these free volunteer education sessions. Therefore, those organisations, would have to support and pay for their taxi rides there.

Some challenges I faced during research, was often the Hong Kong government would be very conservative on this issue. This is why many Non-government organisations, like the Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights, accuse the government of withholding such information. As The government never releases the numbers of how many refugee children are accepted or rejected by those public schools, despite countless ignored applications. Thus, not allowing the public a clear picture of this issue. I’ve managed to overcome this issue though, by doing primary research and interviewing those refugees. Also by observing how these volunteer programs work, to learn more about their issues.

The action I have taken was by joining Christian action, for which we cook meals in Chung King Mansion for refugees. And also the Refugee union in Sai Ying Pun, in which we interact and teach refugee children. I joined Christian action as by cooking for them tackles a basic life necessity, so they can focus on more important things, and the refugee union so I can share some of my understanding to teach these kids for a better future. You can see in my action plan that I will be continuing this service till the end of next year, and I did some calculations that If I approxilmily do the cooking once per month and the tutoring once every week. By the end of the year, I will have done my service action 51 times.

Here is how I have met the 7 service action learner outcomes:
One, I found I was really good at explaining complex concepts to young children, as I was good at breaking it down to familiar ways they’d understand. For example by drawing pictures to visually illustrate what I was teaching or by using hand gestures. An area of growth would be executing this more efficiently as drawing can take time, thus making them learn slower.

Two, it was challenging keeping the kids under control, since sometimes they didn’t see the importance in learning that their parents saw, and wouldn’t concentrate. I developed the skills of learning how to motivate them. For example, I would say that if they finished the last question I would give them candy or we could play a fun game. Part of this is understanding the perspective of the kids and what they want.

Three, We were given a lesson plan to teach them, but how we taught it, was up to us. As I got familiar with the kids I would understand which teaching method to use on each kid, and evaluate how I could do better next time.

Four, for cooking at first I would always sometimes make mistakes. example, cutting the potatoes wrong, but instead of giving up, I’d persevere and ask for help from a peer and learn not to make the same mistakes next time.

Five, in the kitchen we’d always work collaboratively with each other, as cooking isn’t a one-man job. This way we were able to be very efficient and have the meals prepared in time

Six, A lot of the times the kids I was teaching wouldn’t understand English as it wasn’t their first language. Therefore, it was important I develop good relationships, and had effective nonverbal communication, with visuals and body language, so they could understand what I was teaching and I’d seem kind and trusting to listen to.

Seven, when cooking we would consider the environmental waste we would be distributing. Therefore we would always try to reduce uses of plastic bags, not leave the tap running and request the refugees bring their own lunch boxes for meals so we wouldn’t have to waste paper plates.

In conclusion, everyone has the ability to make a change. Just through these two forms of service actions, I’ve learned how I could improve the future lives of these refugees, and you could too, as long as you persevere and take action to build a better community for everyone!