Hope for Christmas Partnership
This Christmas, we expanded our annual fundraising campaign for refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong by involving not only the wider community, but where we had kids and teachers be at the forefront in learning and designing. Every year, we design a special collection of Christmas cards showcasing the beautiful and inspiring illustrations of kids. This year was no different with The Vine’s K4C children’s program designing some beautiful cards for our Hope for Christmas Collection.
This year, we created an additional customized 6-week service learning program for Y1-Y8 students and their teachers so that they would learn more about the life of refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong. We focused on creating lessons on the purpose of giving back, promoting child agency, love for arts and design, and most importantly teaching kids to be advocates for refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong especially in this Christmas season.
Refugees & Asylum Seekers in Hong Kong:
According to government sources, there are around 13,000 asylum seekers in Hong Kong. Out of 22 737 asylum seekers claiming to be recognized as refugees in the past 11 years, only 231 have been successfully granted refugee status. That is a 1% rate in Hong Kong. On the contrary, during the last 10 years, 67% are granted under the 1951 Refugee Convention globally. Europe’s granted rate is 38%. As a refugee or asylum seeker in Hong Kong, you are NOT ALLOWED TO WORK and are forced to rely on government subsidies or charity organisations. Despite year-on-year inflation of 2.44% annually since 2015, the subsidies amount haven’t changed since 2014.
- Housing: HK$1,500 (US$194) per adult or half of that amount for a child, paid directly to the landlord. The average rent of a subdivided flat in Hong Kong is HK$ 5,000 for 132 square feet.
- Utilities: HK$300 (US$39) per household. However, the landlords of subdivided flats often charge more than the official tariff.
- Food in an e-card for supermarkets: HK$1,200 (US$155) per adult.
- Transportation: HK$200- 300 is the only cash they receive.
- It also gives educational support only for refugee children 6 years old and above, leaving 3-5 year-olds with no preparation in crucial areas of early childhood education such as math and phonics.
- Three to five year-old children can claim for a one-off grant (up to HK$3,885/year) to help cover education costs according to the Student Finance Office website. This grant is not enough and applications take a long time to process.
- The same issues arise when families apply to have kindergarten fees paid by the Student Finance Office. The process takes a minimum of three months and families are asked to pay tuition fees in advance, even though they have no source of income to cover such fees.
How Kids Made a Difference
While these statistics can be overwhelming, as a teacher, we choose to look at areas that we can be of an impact as well as an area that helps children develop empathy and compassion, in hopes they will be future changemakers. Over the years, we’ve continued to support K3 from Branches of Hope because of the focus on ALL children and their education in Hong Kong. They look for the gaps in funding and aim to support individual families to help provide a sense of normalcy for their little ones, while they continue to wait for a country to accept them as recognized refugees.
Early childhood education is critical as it directly impacts a child’s cognitive and social development, which sets the foundation for realizing full potential as an adult. The K3 program enables children of refugees to attend kindergarten through matching children in need with sponsors. Although the Hong Kong Government provides kindergarten assistance to refugee children, many families are unable to afford the additional costs associated with sending their kids to school.Branches of Hope
Hope for Christmas 2020 GOAL REACHED: 15 000 HKD!
Because of our partnership with The Vine, K4C, and Branches of Hope, despite Covid-19 and social distancing challenges (cancelling our Christmas market), and because of your yearly support, we were able to continue to sell over 15 000 HKD worth of Christmas cards, which is enough to sponsor 2 children in Kindergarten this year. Thank you for your generosity and we hope that this annual project and partnership will inspire you not to be overwhelmed by the negative statistics, but feel empowered to create change in an area that you have control over! Merry Christmas!