Behind the glitz and glamour of Hong Kong’s neon signs and 24/7 pace of life live a group of people often hidden away on the fringes of Hong Kong society and in the most cases, completely ignored. The people in question are the city’s hidden community of refugees and they would all but be forgotten if not for the work of several well meaning Hong Kong based NGOs and organizations who seek to work to alleviate their plight, provide support and highlight their cases to the wider Hong Kong public.
Hong Kong, for all its monetary wealth and image of a world city, has often been criticized for the lack of assistance towards refugees who are often left in a form of limbo as their legal cases are heard and this can often take years leading to insufferable uncertainty; thus often, refugees are often left in less than pleasant accommodation with insufficient provisions for survival and day to day living yet they are are not allowed to work to improve their plight. This sense of helplessness can lead to a vicious cycle of despair and loss of hope.
One organization dedicated to helping the plight of these Hong Kong based refugees is The Vine Community Services Ltd (VCSL) which seeks to help and assist those who have fallen through the gaps of Hong Kong society. One core focus of their work is refugees and who would remain nameless and faceless if not for the hard-work and dedication of those who are keen and determined to ease their suffering and bring their predicament and circumstances to a wider audience.
The Vine Community Services Ltd (VCSL) began their refugee services in 2004 and this assistance has grown from providing basic necessities to a much wider scope of work including post-traumatic counseling, financial assistance, providing a sense of community, relocation preparations, meal preparation as well as legal support and advocacy. These services, which are utilized by up to 300 refugees from Africa, South and Southeast Asia, are provided by both full time staff as well as many well meaning volunteers.
Importantly VCSL also provide a sense of community and empowerment in the form of football which is a passion for many of the refugees and an important outlet for them to forget their daily struggles and allows them to build their self image and sense of worth.
To build upon the premise of sport as a form of empowerment, this coming Saturday, November 14, 2015, the Vine Church will be hosting their 4th annual “Home & Away” Charity Football Tournament in the hope that the tournament will raise awareness and funds for the refugees and asylum-seekers living in Hong Kong as well as providing high tempo action for the many teams and fans who are participating and watching.
The underlying message of the tournament is one of hope and acceptance and that even though refugees are thousands of miles away from their home and separated from their families and friends and seemingly invisible to the general public; that there are those who do care for their well-being and who will fight their cause. It is the beauty of sports that allows community to be built and for the refugees to showcase their skills and talents to the wider world.