|About 95 per cent of Hong Kong's population is ethnic Chinese. Most of the minority groups are from Asia, such as India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand. Ethnic minority children in Hong Kong may have difficulty finding a suitable school, sometimes waiting for over a year to secure a place. Some families may have difficulty finding accommodation, as real estate agents may assume that they will be poor and unable to pay the rent. On the job, they tend to work longer hours and for less pay than their Chinese counterparts. According to Government statistics in 2006, almost 70 per cent of ethnic minority workers earn less than HK$4,000 a month. Over the years, Oxfam has addressed these issues through a wide range of work, such as legal advocacy, various community projects with minority groups, and public education.|
The NGO, Hong Kong Unison (www.unison.org.hk), concentrates exclusively on ethnic minority rights in Hong Kong. For three years, Oxfam Hong Kong jointly lobbied the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government with UNISON for legislation against racial discrimination, and for equal opportunities among ethnic minority communities. In July 2009, the Racial Discrimination Ordnance finally became effective. Victory has been a long time in the making: the very first attempt to introduce a bill was in 1995. UNISON and Oxfam continue to monitor the Ordinance and also urge the Education Bureau to establish a Chinese-as-a-Second-Language curriculum.
One hands-on project that Oxfam has supported is for better social services and income generation opportunities with South Asian women. Love Multi-Culture is the name of the shop in Kwai Fong, which sells handicrafts, jewellery and accessories made by South Asian women. The community organisation behind the project is HK SKH Lady MacLehose Centre Group, which Oxfam supports. According to a survey conducted by the Centre in 2004, the unemployment rate for Pakistanis and Nepalese in Hong Kong is 24 per cent, which is 19 per cent higher than the overall rate; they estimate that as many as 90 per cent of the women are out of work.
Ranjitkaual, 35, is one of the twenty women who work at Love Multi-Culture. She moved to Hong Kong in 1995 and is the sole provider for her family. Before working at the shop two days a week, Ranjitkaual had had difficulty finding a job, and not speaking Chinese meant she often felt removed from the culture, alone, and stressed. Nowadays, she and the other women earn HK$500 – HK$1,000 a month. She says, "I am happy that I can make some money. It is not much, but at least I can have some support for my family. The centre is like a platform where we can meet new friends and have contact with society."
Four primary schools joined this book project with Oxfam to present a cross-section of life for ethnic minority students in Hong Kong. Thirty-nine children share about their lives. The result is a lively book, with short profiles of 39 children, teaching and sports activities for building racial harmony, and various essays by professionals. Published by Oxfam Hong Kong, the bilingual Chinese- English book is now in its second edition.
|Kids Alike - A World of Children in Hong Kong
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