Yo Yo sharingI have been here for four months and I cannot bear to think that I am about to leave here soon. I cried for a few times and I know I will have to leave in the end. From not knowing anybody when I first arrived and being criticized as being impolite, until now they say that I have changed a lot. To be honest, I am really not aware of the change but every one of you said it is true. From being new to the place to not wanting to leave the place, I will remember this experience because you have all helped me a lot.
When I first went to the camp, I don’t even know a single thing, all of you understood and forgave me; when my attitude was not particularly good, you said to me: ‘It’s fine if you don’t know how to do housework, we will help you.’ When I am down, you are all here to comfort me; when I did something wrong, you all forgive me.
Four months may seem a short but also a long period of time, and I learnt a lot. Every time I needed someone to help, you will all provide help. Sometimes, you may scold me or laugh at me. Actually I wanted to say that I don’t feel happy, but I refrained from doing so since I know that you tell me off because you wanted me to become a better person. I remember there was once that someone said I am too slow in cleaning the fridge, I still remembered that I cried, that’s why I am so scared of the ‘large-scale’ cleaning and I have never cleaned the fridge from then on. There was once when we went to a voluntary service and had to ask someone to help me carry the things. I had to learn piano after the event so I did not follow the others back to the office. I only remembered this after I got off the bus and phoned them to tell them about it. When I arrived at the place where they were already waiting for me, I already knew that I cannot commit such kind of mistakes again. Due to these small incidents at HCFG, I changed my way of doing things after staying there.
The person that I want to thank most is A Ho(Sister Agnes). Thank you for establishing this Home ad help so many girls who have nowhere to stay, as well as organizing so many activities and bringing us to many places to learn about different things. I will come back and visit you! The second one to thank is Elf, thank you for helping when I face difficulties and was willing to listen to my thoughts, accompanying me to conquer the difficulties. I will miss you ga! The third one is Ching and Yu, thank you for listening to my deepest thoughts and also telling me to keep fit (I will try). I will certainly come back for X’mas party if I am available. The fourth party is our House parents, thanks for your care and giving us reminders, I will be good. The fifth one is my fellow dorm mates, many thanks must given to all of you and I will remember all of you, hope that you will remember me!
Mother of “Ar Sze”Hello to the staffs of HCG! Thank you very much for your love, care and support for my daughter Ar Sze in the past months. Ar Sze used to be a girl without sense of responsibility at home, but she changed in three major ways during her one-month stay in HCG. First, she became more responsible. She did not use to notify us when she went out, not even answering the phone call when we call at 12am. Second, she sleeps at 11pm every night. She used to stay awake until 12am or 1 am and this situation has really been improved. Third, she became more hardworking. She helps the family with mopping the floor, cleaning the sofa and the rest of the house. As the parent of Ar Sze, I am really grateful for your love and support provided to Ar Sze during this period of time, as well as teaching her a lot of correct ways of learning and values. I would like to particularly thank the staffs there, who are very friendly and are effective communicators. It was a happy experience to interact with them. They had devoted a lot towards my daughter’s education. Lastly, i would like to express my heartfelt gratitude towards the whole of HCG. Thank you for your time and love for the children. Let me treat you all to a meal soon….
Wenya, and Her Tale of Soaring Math GradesMy Childhood
My parents divorced when I was four. My younger sister and I lived with our mother since. My mother was a clueless parent. There was no discipline nor routine to speak of. We led an unruly life.
When I was twelve, mother had a boyfriend who lived with us. The man touched me. I went to my mother but she downplayed the seriousness of the incidents and asked me not to tell anyone. I felt wronged. When night came the man would steal into my bed after I dozed off. Alarmed, I questioned him. “I saw mice on your bed,” was one of his many fabricated excuses.
Desperate, I threatened to kill myself. At her wit’s end, my mother took me to a social worker. She told the social worker that the boyfriend no longer stayed with us, which was a lie. Since then, we did not hear from the social worker.
We were a single-parent household and depended on social welfare. When I was sixteen, I had a huge argument with my mother. She lavished our welfare on her unemployed boyfriend. I felt robbed. I took my sister with me and we left for my aunt.
Life at HCG
Among the relatives, no one believed except my aunt. The rest thought I exaggerated. I insisted on having my mother choose between her boyfriend and I but she gave an ambiguous answer. I gave up. I had been a good daughter to her but she did not deserve it. I did not want to go back to my mother and so I told my aunt about what the man did to me. Aunt took me to a social worker and arrangements were made for my sister and I to live with HCG.
In the past, no one ever cared about my sister and I. Life at HCG came with numerous restrictions concerning every aspect of daily life. Everything was new to me and I found the place constraining. Things took an unexpected turn when my sister did not adjust and moved to a different facility. A reserved person to begin with, slowly I became cold and removed.
Life at HCG wasn’t easy but I found people who cared. Once a week before heading off to work, my aunt made soup and delivered it to me. What’s more, the social workers and house staff were genuinely concerned and they always approached me first. For once I felt understood and accepted.
Turning Over a New Leaf
“Haven’t you always wanted the warmth of a home? Do you want to turn over a new leaf?” Thoughts ran through my head. In many ways HCG was no different than a home. Here I could learn what a home was supposed to be like.
I was a student at Yi Jin and my math grades was poor; F for “Fail” or U for “Unsatisfactory”. Worries that I would not have a career hit me hard. I made a promise to myself that I would accept HCG and lead a disciplined life. Two miraculous things happened. First, I saw great improvement in my focus span and overall health. My grades too, soared from F/U to A. I graduated from Yi Jin and later obtained my higher diploma.
I used to think of myself as the victim. Like many, I felt helpless because life had been unfair. On top of that, because of my family’s disbelief I was ostracized. I could not trust anyone.
At HGC, every girl had a story and there would always be someone willing to listen. Through sharing my story, I learned that I did not need be of ashamed my past for I did nothing wrong. I listened to my mother and kept it a secret because I was young, and my limited understanding told me to obey like a good child would. Furthermore, I wanted to protect my mother from being perceived as a bad parent. I threatened to kill myself only because I knew of no other ways to seek help, and I ran away because home was not a safe place. I did everything I could.
HCG was a place filled with positive energy. Social workers and house staff were caring and attentive. When I preferred to be left alone, they gave me space. They always did little things for me and not once did I feel left out. For the first time, I experienced love.
Transformed by Love
My understanding of love was limited to the sexual exchange between a man and a woman. When I arrived at HCG though, I discovered a love that was unconditional. There were times when I or one of us girls refused help. The social workers and house staff never once gave up on us. I was puzzled. We were not related after all. Who would do that for a stranger?
With the love I was showered in came my transformation. I learned to accept love and reciprocate and most important of all, to love and cherish myself. In order to love others and to become the person she wanted to be, one must first love herself.
Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow
Looking back, I am grateful toward HCG. Now beside my aunt, the wonderful people of HCG will always be there for me.
I’ve been taught how to protect myself from negativity. Though I still find it difficult to accept my mother, I can be honest with my feelings. My relationship with my sister has not been easy either; sometimes my good intentions are taken the wrong way. HCG taught me patience. I love my sister always and hope she will understand someday.
I have high expectation on myself and often stress over my own mistakes. I noticed though, I am understanding and forgiving toward others but I have not been as kind to myself.
I’ve left school and joined the workforce. I am attending night school to study English. I have a shift job and the hours are long, but I am committed to studying English for 45 minutes a day. I am working toward the career of my dream and I will stay strong no matter what tomorrow brings.
Ayi, the Strong Girl from VietnamYoung Ayi Learned Chinese
Ayi’s mother was Vietnamese. Ayi’s father left Hong Kong to run a textile factory in Vietnam. The two met, got married and had Ayi. The three lived in Vietnam for ten more years before they relocated to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, a typical ten-year-old would be enrolled in primary 4, but because Ayi didn’t know any Chinese she was enrolled in primary 2. To catch up, Ayi took courses covering the very basic of Chinese language. A fast learner, and with the help of teachers and instructors, Ayi mastered the language within half a year and was able to communicate with the local students in fluent Cantonese. Many Mandarin-speaking immigrants paled in comparison.
Surprisingly, Ayi didn’t find learning Chinese too difficult, “A lightbulb went on in my head, I don’t really know how.” Nevertheless, leaving Vietnam for a new place entailed Ayi would face unforeseen challenges for someone her age.
Life Without Parents
Ayi’s father had anger issue and her mother suffered from hallucination. They argued and fought; young Ayi was left aside. Young Ayi witnessed her teary mother banging her head into a wall after her parents had an argument, and how her mother sliced her wrist after she got beaten up. Ayi could not erased these from her memories.
For five years the family of three lived in Hong Kong. After which the father returned to the textile business in Vietnam. Ayi’s mother, who had not been able to adjust to life in Hong Kong, left 15-year-old Ayi in the care of an old lady they knew well. From then on, Ayi and the old lady were left on their own, looking out for each other.
Ayi did not go into details. It was hard to tell if her parents’ departure meant much to her for it seemed their absence was a relief. Calm and independent, one couldn’t help but wonder if Ayi’s indifference was a result of accumulated hurt and disappointment.
Life at HCG
Ayi spent half a year with the old lady. During form 3, Ayi was brought to HCG at the Mongkok location. Like many others, Ayi came to HCG through a social worker. Upon arrival, Ayi was covered in tears. Ten full pages of HCG house rules: “Lights off at 10 pm”, time limit on making phone calls, taking turn to do chores, snack breaks, and so on. Ayi was used to her care-free life; HCG appeared to be like a prison. Yet, in a very short time Ayi’s adaptive nature got her used to the routine.
Ayi stayed with HCG for half a year. During this time, Ayi might have given up the freedom she valued the most but the experience meant so much more. Ayi was thankful of HCG’s professional counselling. She learned ways to cope with her pain and became a confident person. She also became good at counselling her friends. “It’s called passing it on,” she said. Ayi left HCG two years ago but she made the effort to stay in touch; one can often find her at HCG’s various gatherings. Compared to other safe houses that were government-sponsored, HCG held a special place in the hearts of the girls. “We don’t called HCG a “shelter”; HCG is our home because that’s what it is.”
“I am going to be a flight attendant.”
Currently Ayi is preparing for the public exams but she has her heart set on a goal. Ayi admits her grades probably aren’t good enough for her to go to college but believes she is qualified to be a flight attendant. She is confident that her fluency in Vietnamese will help her get the job, “I am going to be a flight attendant, no matter what.” Ayi’s determination is rooted in her wish to be united with her family. “When I fly to Vietnam, I can visit my mother.”
Ayi is staying at a different government-sponsored shelter. Her parents divorced not long ago, and Ayi’s two younger sisters, age nine and six, are living with their unemployed mother. The girls do not have the chance to go to school. As for her irresponsible father, Ayi doesn’t hold any expectation. She wants to start making money as soon as she can to help raise her siblings.
At twenty, Ayi decided to take care of her family and fulfill what her parents failed to do. This isn’t right, one might protest. For some, the choices are few. Between walking away and embracing her family with all its imperfection, Ayi chose the latter. We wholeheartedly pray that Ayi will soon reunite with her family.