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此文章原刊於2010年出版的:《回歸信念--社工信念的實踐》

2009年3月17日林寶案前, unison已經開始工作了多年, 不同族裔的朋友更在香港共同生活了多年,
林寶案時, inmedia也有部份民間文章報導, 彩鳳亦跟朋友嘗試參與過小量事情...
上星期巧遇作者--融樂會總幹事王惠芬fermi,
有討論過如何令更多社運人繼續關注香港不同族裔朋友的生活,
其中, 她願意分享此文給inmedia的讀者(亦呼籲大家參與融樂行).
而由於不同族裔工作中, 多以英文/中文並行...所以我登出中英文版在此. (中文版只有上列圖檔)

*****
Championing -- "ONE HONG KONG"! (Unison Hikathon 2010)
實現 -- 「一個香港」! (融樂會 融樂行2010)
http://www.unison.org.hk/

*****
inmedia自2009年林寶案後部份民間報導:
2010年最新~
林寶死因研訊:聆訊竟無一字建議 研訊缺憾亟待修改 (人權監察新聞稿)

2009年~
編輯室周記 (花苑)
悼野人, 或無險可守者 (陳景輝)
中大學生報特稿之四:「野人」從未存在 ——由Homeless到Spaceless (陳景輝)
中大學生報特稿之三:尼泊爾人必需要死,或消費社萬歲(周思中)
中大學生報我稿之二:媒體玩謝尼漢四部曲(領男)
這裡是我們第二個家:雖然我們兩年就可能要走!--認識香港尼泊爾家務勞動者工會(union of nepalese domestic workers in hong kong --UNDW) 的姊妹

*****
LOVE MERCY, ACT JUSTLY
Written by Fermi Wong
Translated by Ms Claudia Mo

‘ As long as social workers embrace hope, believe in the kindness and justice in the Hong Kong society, we will all still be able to persevere under seemingly lonely and desperate circumstances, and never call it quits ….’

VALUE OF SOCIAL WORK
The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) sets the definition: “The social work profession promotes social change, problem-solving in human relationship and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work… (which) grew out of humanitarian and democratic ideals, its values are based on respect for equality, worth and dignity of all people.”

In Hong Kong, the first part of our Code of Practice, titled Basic Values and Beliefs, says “Social workers accept responsibility to advance social justice and to safeguard the cause of human rights”. And in the second part, under “Principles and Practices – Related to Society”, it is stipulated that social workers recognize the need to:

(49) bring to the attention of policy makers or the general public any policies, procedures or activities of governments, societies or agencies which create, contribute to, or militate against the relief of hardship and suffering.

(50) advocate changes in the formulation of policies and legislation to improve social conditions, to promote social justice and general welfare of the society.

(51) prevent and eliminate discrimination, and the need to strive for a more reasonable distribution of resources and to ensure that all persons should have equal opportunity to access to the necessary resources and services.

(52) promote conditions that encourage respect for the diversity of cultures in the society.

It is clear that care for the needy and fight for social justice form the core values of social work. Regrettably, the Hong Kong government’s role of social service provider has changed for the worse. Under a so-called Lump Sum Grant Funding Mode, the government has not only become a social service “buyer”, its relationship with NGOs has also turned from partnership to one of master-servant. This funding mode, while harming the relationship between NGO supervisors and frontline social workers, has also made many NGO boards and management become fearful of the government. They have resorted to adopting even more conservative approaches, turning a blind eye to injustices.

NGO service supervisors are getting increasingly market-oriented, with profit-making in mind. Social work is supposed to be mission driven, but now it seems everything is money driven. In the past, the idea was “where there is need, there is service”, now it is “where there is money, there is service”. During the last 10 years or so, social work at a district intervening level was seen castrated, and work on defending human rights, promoting social justice and advocating policy changes went largely missing.

Care and justice go along with Christianity. In the Old Testament, Micah 6:8 reads, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I love social work, and I love this Biblical verse, and so “love mercy” and “act justly” have always been the drive behind me.

WHAT IS “LOVE MERCY”, “ACT JUSTLY”?
Love Mercy is to have the sensitivity and empathy to feel others’ hardships and pains, and to want to offer practical help. To act justly is to have the belief that individual sufferings are not just mere misfortune, but could have been caused by an unjust system that encourages unfair distribution of resources and social discrimination. One needs to adopt a macro social work viewpoint to act to help bring about positive changes.

I quite deliberately put “love mercy” before ‘act justly”, as that order fits better many traditional social workers’ ideals. Indeed sympathy, mercy – and love – come first. Fewer social workers would have chosen the profession out of the more grand vision of advocating social or political change.

SERVING ETHNIC MINORITIES – A MATTER OF FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE
For more than a decade, many people would ask me, “Why do you choose to serve the minorities?” And my reply would always be, “This is a matter of simple truth, of fairness and justice.” I’d always lament, “If we’re all born equal, why is it ‘special’ that I should be serving south Asian communities?” Of course I understand that in the real world, people are divided into sectors, and “race” is used by some as a dividing line while providing services. This unfeeling approach breaches the professional spirit of social work, and it upsets me hugely.

In Feb., 1988, I was a social worker with an Integrated Service Centre for the Children and Youth in Shamshuipo. I had my first encounter with minorities. My experience that day remains unforgettable:

Each day, around noon time, I’d see a group of Indian and Pakistani kids playing ball on the fringe of a small football field outside our centre. They were fiddling with the ball, not exactly doing any game, while watching their local Chinese counterparts play in the field. What’s curious was, even when the field was unoccupied, the minority children would not go in to play. I asked the kids why, and they replied they were told that only Chinese were allowed to use the facility. Later, I also witnessed an episode of how they got shooed and shouted out of the field by Chinese youngsters, “Ah Cha, you have no right to play here, go away!”

I came to know that that group of south Asian children all went to a nearby government primary school for the minorities, attending the afternoon session. As many of them lived far away, they would usually leave home early so as to be punctual for school. But often they would end up being early, and have up to 45 minutes to wander about in the neighbourhood.

So I started to chat with them during lunch time, and we would also play some simple games. After a while, I decided I might as well push the centre’s ping-pong table out in the open air for them to play. Once a Pakistani primary 3 pupil asked me why, unlike the Chinese, they were not allowed to go into the centre to play. My proposal at a staff meeting that we should begin offering minority services was, however, met with objection from most of my co-workers. My boss at the time used “resource constraints”, “service priorities” and “we don’t know them well” as excuses. But deep down I knew language and race were the real reasons. While our centre and that primary school had co-existed in the district for more than 20 years, service for minority children had never been on our priority list. I didn’t know how to reply to the Pakistani kid’s question. I tried to fight on. But I persistently failed to convince my supervisor and colleagues. I had no choice but to leave.

In August that year, I switched to work for a outreaching social service team for the youth at risk in the Yaumatei-Tsimshatsui area. During my field observation in barely a little more than a month, I met a few dozen adolescents, mostly Nepalese and Pakistanis aged between 10 and 15, who had no school to go to and would often be loitering in the King George 5th Park in Jordan. My chats with them revealed that they could not find schools mainly because their parents did not know how to. Most of them had gone without schooling for half a year, some up to three years.

I tried to get them help. Unfortunately, again I faced vociferous objection from my colleagues. One actually declared, “Chinese should help Chinese first.” The truth was they didn’t want to serve south Asian communities. I was warned by my boss and co-workers that if I went my way and did it alone, I would be spoiling team spirit, going against social worker’s code of conduct and would therefore become unqualified to be called a social worker -- that in any case I only held a diploma in social work, needing supervision as I lacked the credentials to make “professional judgements”. Luckily, the Executive Director of our agency label at the time personally expressed his support to me, and instructed the centre to supply such service. But that half-hearted service only lasted briefly. After that supportive Executive director had retired, I was forced to resign by my supervisor in Oct., 2000, on the grounds of lacking team spirit.

To avoid passing on work burden and pressure onto my ex-colleagues, I decided to sever my ties with my previous help seekers, and went to work on the youth unemployment front.

Around Christmas that year, quite by chance I was walking past King George 5th Park again when I met a Nepalese father. He came over, held me by the hand tight and said, “Are you Fermi Wong? We’re looking for you for a long time.” It turned out that he had contacted my old office to ask for assistance, and the social worker there who was supposed to take up my cases replied, “No Fermi Wong, no service.” The father told me both of his sons used drugs. One had died already of an overdose, while the other was still using. He was extremely worried about his remaining boy. Talking on, and with people looking on, he suddenly went down on both knees and cried, “Please save my son!” I was taken aback and quickly helped him up.

I felt ashamed as a social worker. Hong Kong’s social service has been developing for years, things should have been easy and accessible. Yet due to language and skin colour, this father just couldn’t get help? Later I found out many of the youngsters I had known had quit school, and some had even become drug addicts. I was swept by a tidal wave of empathy, and sense of mercy. I had to help. In Mar., 2001, I and two friends founded Hong Kong Unison, with the specific aim of serving the south Asian communities.

I didn’t even have an office during the first few months. What I did was going to the King George 5th Park on a daily basis, trying to deal with different problems there. Now and then I would stage some simple Cantonese classes. Later I managed to receive the kind offer of an office space use in Mongkok – by Ms Cheng Po-wah, a friend of a City University of Hong Kong academic friend’s – our work then started to be on surer footing.

THE “INVISIBLE”, OSTRACIZED GROUP
The government defines ethnic minority as “anyone that’s non-Chinese”. But we’re not talking about European or American students with abundant resources. We serve the much, much less advantaged from Pakistani, Indian, Nepalese, Filipino and other southeast Asian families. They are rooted in Hong Kong, for the second, third generation. Some even went the fourth, fifth generation.

During the two years in the Yau-Tsim district, I was in touch with a large number of such minority young people and families and saw many more problems. On top of being ostracized from the local social service system, and other than problems of no schooling, unemployment, drugs, crime and racial discrimination, they were practically excluded from all public policies. They were a “transparent” crowd. They were simply not seen. I checked the 1996 census, and noted that there was only some nebulous figure under the ethnic minority column. No, no classification by ethnicity, no other data to help understand different groups, let alone any relevant social policy or service planning. Except for a few paid services available to the advantaged (Caucasians, Japanese, ethnic Chinese holding foreign passports), all subvented services, including those for immigrants from mainland China, were all for ethnic Chinese only.

Out of a total of 1,200-plus government-aid schools here, only four (two secondary, two primary) were happy to take in minority students. All labour services and job training courses were Chinese-based. Anyone could conduct racial bias practices. The police could feel free to use racial slurs to insult and even arrest minorities. The truth is, exclusion and ostracism are the worst form of discrimination.

LET THE UNSEEN BE SEEN
In the 1990s, Hong Kong’s social service had completely ignored ethnic minorities, whose requests for public service assistance were practically all denied on grounds of language problems. To help them turn from being “invisible” to “visible”, I distributed to minority groups public housing application forms, accompanied them to apply for CSSA and took them to Social Welfare Department’s family service centres to get help. I persistently exposed, verbally and in written form, minorities’ needs and problems to all government departments concerned, and I tried hard to raise public awareness on the issue by telling personalized minority stories to the media. I also submitted position papers to the Legislative Council, had meetings with legislators and lobbied various political parties. When Unison was first set up in 2001, I didn’t get paid, but merely worked as a volunteer. All our expenses, from having an office, doing activities, staffing, basic operating facilities including electricity, telephone, management fees etc. were all supported by donations from various kind-hearted sources. I worked seven days a week, more than 15 hours a day. The cases were numerous: need school, need jobs, drug counseling, need to report to police station for fighting, need to go to court, need to solve family problems – including domestic violence – giving Cantonese classes, and referrals of public services available. Many cases would appear like personal problems. But when we got just too many “no”s from officials, when we were persistently denied service, I came to realize it all boiled down to the problematic system.

Once I brought along several Nepalese kids to knock on school doors in their neighbourhood. One school headmistress simply declared her school would not have a place for “Cha Tsai”, not in the past, not in the present, not in the future. Another time I tried to refer a group of no-schooling south Asian teenagers to take part in activities at a Social Service Centre for the Children and Youth, and the centre’s person-in-charge called me up, “When are you going to take away this group of ‘Cha Tsai’? They come to my centre so often, how am I going to report to parents of the clients we serve?”

While keeping on working on cases, reporting issues to different government departments, I also became a guest show host on an RTHK radio programme, on a weekly basis for eight months, talking about minority issues at the invitation of producer Au Lai-Nga.

Between 2002 and 2009, I was appointed a member of an official consultative body on racial harmony, during which I continuously fought for policy improvements. At the time the Home Affairs Bureau was in charge of racial matters, and I was lucky to run into two responsible and enthusiastic officials who helped to materialize and implement many of my proposals. There was Mr. John Dean, the Principal Assistant Secretary under the then Home Affairs secretary Mr. Lam Woo-kwong. With Lam’s approval, Dean formed a Race Relations Unit and a Committee on Promotion of Racial Harmony. He also started a second round of consultation on the possibility of legislating against racial discrimination, prompting more systematic concern over the issue. Another official was Mr. Stephen Fisher, the then deputy secretary for Home Affairs, who organized a number of forums with minority leaders for direct dialogues, set up a racial harmony scholarship and Community Development Projects for minority, and who also started a formal round of public consultation on the race discrimination draft laws. More importantly, Fisher began to allocate funds to the money-oriented welfare sector for serving minorities, prompting competition. Previously, few welfare organizations labels had been keen to look after minorities, now many would fight to have them as clients. I was happy to see this. Once the service door’s been open, it can’t be shut. Now minorities realize they simply have just as many rights as local Chinese to enjoy social and other public services.

AN UNFEELING SOCIETY AND DISCRIMINATION
If everyone’s worth and dignity are the same, why do minorities suffer more, and the injustices they face proved to be more severe? Is it because of the gap caused by skin colour, race or language? I am convinced that more has to do with an unfeeling society and the discrimination involved.

It was a summer day in 2003, I and a friend had gone to the multi-storey car park at Temple Street to get our car. The lift stopped for us on the sixth floor. As the door opened, we saw a bare-chested south Asian young man, aged around 16 to 17, squatting and scavenging through a dustbin by the lift door. In one hand he had a leftover paper cup of drinks, in the other hand he had a pack of half-eaten, fishball type of Chinese snacks. The moment he heard us, the young man threw away the paper bag he had just found and quickly walked away. I ran after him, feeling a gush of pity and sadness. I used simple English to introduce myself, and he looked terribly embarrassed, not keen to talk. But he did tell he had not had anything to eat for a few days, and he was very hungry.

The next day I went back to the parking lot. I walked from the sixth floor to the top eighth floor, and found some 50 to 60 Nepalese young men, aged from 16, 17 to 20 something, were taking shelter there. Most of them were born in Hong Kong, educated in Nepal, and were children of Gurkhas who came here alone to work around 1997. These young people were unemployed, couldn’t afford the rent and had no relatives. Some were doing drugs too.

I tried to get them shelter with welfare organizations in the district, and help from the Social Welfare Department. But all was denied on various grounds. I decided to take the story to the press, with the hope of arousing public concern and sympathy. In the end the Social Welfare Department called for a district service coordinating meeting. Attendees included the department’s own family service social workers, as well as government and NGO social workers who specialized in helping street sleepers. Other participants were representatives of the police, of the car park’s management, and different types of social workers including who claimed to have served minority youths in the area. I too was on the invitees’ list.

The first agenda was for me to describe the sorrowful state of affairs. After I had done that, the chairlady of the meeting said, “Fermi, you’re very busy. You should go first …” That was actually meant to shoo me away. When I saw the meeting’s minutes later, I learned that they had made a joint decision – to clear the Nepalese occupants out of the car park. A week later, the Social Welfare Department called to “invite” me to a second meeting, to discuss how to implement the clear-out exercise. I refused, saying I could not agree to that kind of meeting, and begged them not to just get rid of the homeless young without doing something to help them first.

In the following weeks, the car park management company would do floor wash three times a day. One morning, I received a call from the young man I first met next to the lift dustbin, “Please come quick. They are chasing us away!” I rushed to the parking lot to see the police and management firm people doing the clearing out. A few senior social workers with the Welfare Department were standing around, looking serious and stern, next to a long desk. The front of the desk was taped with a few A3-sized sheets of paper printed in Chinese, “If you need service, please come to the desk to register.” Several young men, carrying their paraphernalia, their total worth, stood beside me and cried. I too cried. I was very angry, and I was very sad. Sad because I couldn’t do anything while confronting such injustice. That young man I first met at the carpark subsequently turned to drugs and suffered mental problems. He’s now in jail. I managed to get public housing for some of them. The rest have continued to be street sleepers elsewhere.

Even now they are only twenty-something. How many people would know their stories? How many would actually care?

I’ve actually been working on the drugs issue since 1988, contacting youth field service teams, rehab organizations and even the media, and the overall response has almost always been indifferent. It was not until 2004, when the anti-drug authority, Narcotics Division, under the Security Bureau sought my opinion on the issue – and I said the only way to help is to give out money to NGOs – then we started to have official funding programmes for minority drug problems, with such services mushrooming.

EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES AND THE YOUNG’S WAY OUT

Education is a human right, and is also the best way to help push minorities up the social ladder. So I’ve always picked education issues as my key focus. In 1998, barely four primary and secondary schools in the whole of Hong Kong were willing to take in south Asian students. Despite our effort, by 2004 the number had merely increased to 10 – seven primary and three secondary schools. Minority students faced a discriminatory process regarding school place allotments. Generally speaking, when a Hong Kong student failed to get a place in the first round of schools’ own allocation scheme, he could in the second round pick from his district school network 20 out of usually a total of more than 40 schools. But with a non-Chinese student, he only had the choice of 10 schools, seven of them conventional, well-established labels. To highlight the injustice involved and to help exert pressure on the government, I called up those seven establishment schools one by one, enquiring how many non-Chinese students they had taken in in the past few years. The answer: zero to two. In other words, when a minority pupil finished primary 6, he basically had only choices of three schools. However incompetent or excellent his academic performance was, he would be sent to one of those three. The education authority, however, remained unmoved after numerous complaints on our part. So while keeping on dealing with the government, I started to see if there was any way to sue the government under human rights principles. The government finally gave in in 2004, allowing minority students to take part in the central allocation of school places just like their Chinese counterparts.

One heart-breaking case involved a Pakistani kid. He came to Hong Kong at the age of 11 to live with an uncle, who was however too busy earning money to support the family and didn’t – he wouldn’t know how to – find the boy a school. Later the boy came to know me and asked for my help. By then he was 14 and and a half. I took him to two primary schools dedicated for minorities, but they both rejected him for being over-aged. We then tried the other two secondary schools which were also designed for minorities. But they too rejected him for being under-qualified, as the boy had only done up to primary 3 back home. So I took him to the Education Department’s district office for help. There they just gave us the telephone numbers of the four schools we had been to. When we said we had already been rejected by all four, they told us to go to the Education Department’s headquarters. We did. And the officials there again gave us the phone numbers of the four schools, plus the address of the district office which we had already visited. In the end they just told us to go home and wait. About half a year later, I received an Education Department letter, stating that my client was now 15 years of age, and according to the law, the government has no obligations to look after his schooling. With no school to go to, I found the boy a take-away delivery job. He worked hard to save money. Four years later he went back to Pakistan to see his parents and to get engaged. But he died in a car accident the second day he was back there. Life is so full of the unexpected, including death. If he had had a better chance, would things have turned out differently?

Today, although minority students are spread amongst more than 500 secondary and primary schools, they still face difficult learning conditions. We are still fighting for improved complementary policies and resources. But at least they no longer get isolated in a few schools, and not kept off the mainstream society.

South Asians are often criticized for being lazy to learn Chinese. That is not only unfair but also a false accusation. The truth is they never had the opportunity to systematically learn Chinese. After coming to know a few simple Chinese characters in primary 1, they are told to learn Hindi or Urdu.

By secondary, they are exempted from territory-wide public Chinese exams. Since they don’t have Chinese, most secondary schools would refuse to take them in. As a result they would still end up in the few traditional minority schools, which teach French, Hindi or Urdu. Thanks to a relaxation of the official school placement policy -- which did not happen until 2004 – minority students can now learn more Chinese in a more systematic manner. That had been a policy flaw, and also the real problem behind public misunderstanding on the issue.

Many minority people can understand and speak Cantonese, giving the impression that the language barrier is not serious. But their hearing and speaking abilities are largely acquired through watching TV and living in the community. Often laughable mistakes are made. Their seeming Chinese ability also posed as a hurdle for demanding equal opportunities, as being able to read and write Chinese is a completely different matter. Until now, minority students still face tremendous difficulties learning Chinese, and they need more assistance and matching facilities. The way things are, it looks they still have a long way to go before they can actually compete with their Chinese counterparts in public exams. And so, while fighting for legislation against racial discrimination, I also began to demand to have England’s GCSE Chinese exam results, in lieu of local public exam grades, as minority’s Chinese language qualification for applying for universities, as well as for jobs at the civil service. The government finally conceded in 2007, agreeing to this demand in a policy paper. It got even better. The much more expensive GCSE exam fees were later lowered to the same level as those of local exams, bringing in more light at the end of the tunnel, and injecting more confidence into minorities’ young over their destiny.

Due to previous faulty policies including those for the apartheid kind of school place allotment and Chinese learning, in the past many minority secondary school leavers simply became unemployed. In the last 10 years or so, community colleges flourished but they offered no chance for minority students to further their studies. In 2004, the Kadoorie Foundation contacted me to offer help to improve minority youngsters’ job prospects. I received $1 million to help set up a foundation diploma course in Hospitality at the Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) for two consecutive academic years, starting that year. The course allowed 70 (35 a year) minority F,5 leavers to further their education. Their performance was excellent, and they surely didn’t let anyone down. I joined hands with those two batches of graduates to present the problem to the education authority, while considering taking the government to court over this. The government finally agreed, starting in the academic year 2006/2007, to provide extra funding to IVE for two courses “tailor-made” for minority attendees. By “tailor made” it simply meant the use of English as the teaching medium. Mind you, IVE’s medium of instruction is supposed to be English anyway. The young people now have one more career choice, but their choices remain limited.

FIGHT FOR RACE DISCRIMINATION LAW
Countless unjust and heart-wrenching stories have stemmed from indifference and discrimination. That must stop. I joined forces with other human rights groups, some Legislative councillors and minority advocates to fight for laws to ban racial bias. After years of publicity and pressurizing efforts on our part, the government finally agreed to consider legislating. However, vociferous objections from various government departments surfaced during the government’s own internal consultation. Different departments tried hard to ensure the new law would be powerless to prosecute many of their discriminatory, unreasonable behaviour. Meanwhile the government hoped to put itself above any such new law, attempting to legitimize and systemize its racially biased policies and practices. We took the issue to Geneva. Three times we flew over to lobby the United Nations’ relevant committees there, urging for their concern while pointing out all the loopholes in the Hong Kong government’s proposed bill. In view of UN’s criticisms, the Hong Kong government amended some of the draft’s shameful sections, but still managed to retain many of the exemptions. In the end the new anti-racial discrimination ordinance still came with a number of serious faults. But ultimately, Hong Kong finally has an ordinance banning racial discrimination, stipulating that any such behaviour is not only immoral, but also illegal. Some basic justice is at least seen and done.

In 2001, I took a group of Nepalese young people to camping in the country-side. It was around eight in the evening, there were also quite a few Chinese youngsters nearby, having fun and making a lot of noise. We were playing guitar, singing, dancing and were comparatively less noisy. Out of the blue, someone from among the neighbouring crowd shouted, “Damn Cha Tsai! Get lost! Go back to your own country! Hong Kong doesn’t welcome you!” We quietened down immediately. Everyone was upset. To avoid things getting worse, we went to the beach to have a swim instead. Afterwards, a member of my group asked me in tears, “Fermi, my parents were born in Hong Kong. They’ve been working hard always, never relying on the government. I didn’t commit any crime. What did we do wrong, exactly? Hong Kong people discriminate against us. Sometimes I really hate my Nepalese face. If only I could look more Chinese!”

To have laws alone cannot truly eradicate racial discrimination. The law can help reduce harm and damage, but what’s equally important is civic education complete with positive government policies. Regrettably, it looks there’s still have a long, long way to go.

BE HUMBLE, WITH FIRM BELIEF
While needing to do his job best on the frontline, today, a social worker also has to be “profit-making” for his employer. Sometimes he could be forced to do things that defy his conscience. Career ideals could become an extravagance. Some social workers would feel frustrated and defeated, and some have actually quit for becoming disheartened.

My belief is that social work is a profession, it has its own set of principles and ethics. However tainted it becomes, its core values and mission still exist. As long as social workers embrace hope, believe in the kindness and justice in the Hong Kong society, we will all still be able to persevere under seemingly lonely and desperate circumstances, and never call it quits. We will go on to fight for as much as we can, with passion and engagement, and put into practice what we believe.

Gandhi says, “God is truth. Truth is God.”

I am a Christian. I believe in walking with God, and He will pave the way for us. This belief should help us avoid the herd mentality, uphold our ideals, and empower us to speak up and fight back in any dark and cold.

DON’T EXAGGERATE LIMITS, STAY HUMBLE, DO OUR BEST
The Bible teaches us to be humble, not to assume what we think or do represent the truth. We should be accommodating towards people with different viewpoints. We help them to recognize the hardship faced by the underprivileged, so that they will also walk hand in hand with those who truly care.

Humility would also prompt us to ask ourselves if we have exaggerated the limits we face, or if we are giving up too soon, or being too compromise-prone, or even shifting the blame onto others. I believe we should, within the limits, roar our loudest, do the best what we can do. The tiniest light in the dark is still a light.

And light means hope. This is the beauty of social work.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN
Some social workers treat their work as a mere job. When they’re off duty, they’re off duty. Their cell phone numbers are private. They draw a clear dividing line between their personal and professional lives. And they don’t have any close relationship with their clients. Yet they wish for fruitful results of their work.

Everything comes with a price. I always believe how much you give is proportional to how much you get in return. Being in the social work profession is not easy, because it is no ordinary “professional” work – it is about being committed to help others. We need to ask ourselves: How much am I prepared to pay for this? Where is the bottom line?

For more than 10 years now, I’ve been struggling to balance life between work and family. Often I would want to spend more time with my family. But when a client calls up to say he is in police custody waiting for me to bail him out, I’d quickly decide who needs me more. Often I would want to take a holiday break, enjoying some serious leisure. But when I see the sorrowful state my clients are in, I just couldn’t take myself away. There are surely moments of feeling defeated, disheartened.

I believe we should be clear of what we are after, of how much we’re prepared to give, then go on without regrets.

DREAM IS BEAUTY, AND HOPE
Einstein suggests that dreams can be more important than reality. I can’t agree more. I love dreams. Sometimes what appears to be impossible, can actually be quite possible.

What’s beautiful about dreams is they bring along hope.

And when a social worker brings dreams and hope into his mission and work, he brings dreams and hope to others. Let’s all do that.

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