Christian Action was first established in 1985 in direct response to the wave of Vietnamese refugees, dubbed as ‘boat people’, who flooded into Hong Kong, following the Fall of Saigon and fear of persecution from the new political regime. In fact, Christian Action’s first centre was originally located very close to the Kai Tak Refugee Camp, and over the period of 1985-1997 Christian Action served over 200,000 Vietnamese refugees.
While the Vietnamese population did repatriate, many other people, across the world, continue to flee to Hong Kong for refuge, which led Christian Action to open its own dedicated Centre for Refugees in 2003, at Chungking Mansions, the first drop-in service centre, creating a home-away-from-home and helping refugees to adapt to their new environment.
Twenty years on and Centre for Refugees has supported thousands more asylum seekers and refugees, with an evolving package of humanitarian aid and empowerment services, all designed to create dignity for today and hope for a brighter future.
THE COLOURFUL HISTORY OF CHUNGKING MANSIONS
Chungking Mansions lays in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui and is known to most as a noisy, vibrant, labyrinth of Indian food outlets, foreign money exchanges and guest houses. This 17-story dilapidated building is a temporary dwelling place for many ethnic groups, backpacking tourists, traders from all over Asia and Africa, and asylum seekers, providing a little taste of home, a friendly face and respite from the unfamiliar world outside.
First built in 1961 Chungking Mansions, which lies on some of Hong Kong’s most expensive land, provided apartments to wealthier Chinese residents. Over the decades, the building fell into disrepute and became a trading centre for people from all over the region. Today, however, Chungking is a must-see travel destination for backpackers, there are 330 CCTV cameras, 50+ guesthouses, and over 120 nationalities passing through each year. The building has served as a backdrop to many books and movies, including the 1994 Chungking Express.
In 2021 the Centre for Refugees suffered from a devastating fire which wiped out our community drop in area on the 16th floor of Chungking Mansions. Fortunately, no one was harmed. Thanks to the amazing generosity of our donors and of the general public, we were able to raise enough funds to renovate our community and office spaces, ensuring that the areas are safe, hygienic and meet the needs of our refugee family.
We are proud to serve at the heart of our community. Centre for Refugees is located on the 16th and 17th floors of Block E, where everyone is always welcome!