“Housing is a right, not a commodity”, declares The United Nations.
In 2021, Centre for Refugees embarked on a project with ZeShan Foundation (ZeShan), which has funded a major Assessment and Home Repairs project. It helps create a safe and secure living environment for our community, who are fleeing their homes in order to build a new life, free from fear, and with hope for the future.
ZeShan was established in 2004, as a privately funded foundation, with the purpose of propelling long-lasting positive change by keeping the Chinese virtues of ‘benevolence’ and ‘righteousness’ alive. By taking a holistic approach towards philanthropy and supporting capacity building and flexibility, rather than just promoting good causes and helping the less privileged, ZeShan wants to contribute to building a world where people will flourish and live in harmony, and there is nowhere better to start this than at home.
Asylum seekers in Hong Kong often wait as long as 15-20 years for the results of their appeals, with limited welfare support, which often means living in substandard housing, including subdivided units. Sadly, these environments are often unsafe and unhygienic, which can also lead to additional psychosocial distress as well as health issues.
In order to help tackle the worst offending housing situations, ZeShan has stepped in to fund the ‘Community Resilience’ project. The project focuses on three pillars:
1) Visiting 200 homes for a basic medical and psychosocial screening to understand the vulnerability and needs of the client and their housing conditions eg mould, leakages, safety, as well as storage facilities, adequate lighting etc.
2) Organising necessary home repairs, maintenance, rubbish removal, pest control and provision of ad hoc household items, such as storage, lighting, cooking equipment, all designed to improve the quality of life for the resident.
3) Delivering training programmes; a) fire safety, home safety and hygiene for the clients, b) additional training for clients on how to conduct basic small home repairs themselves and c) training for volunteers who are in attendance at the home visits.
Irene So, Executive Director at ZeShan explains, “This project is all about giving this community the tools to sustain a better living environment, including immediate improvements such as emergency repairs, pest control and storage solutions. Equipping families with future skills, such as training for fire safety, hygiene and minor home repairs, will also help build their own confidence, positive mental health, and create valuable skills that can also be harnessed in a work environment in the future. Through projects like this, we hope that families and their communities will have the chance to flourish, while creating a better future for all.”
Centre for Refugees prides itself on creating a home-away-from-home experience for its 600+ refugee clients in Hong Kong, and the support from ZeShan has made an invaluable contribution to supporting everyone’s right to a safe and secure place to live.
ZeShan has also funded the creation of a sophisticated new database at Centre for Refugees, which ensures that the Centre has an accurate and secure log of all activities generated by the centre. This is an improved system of recording all details and support provided for each registered client, and their families. The database also keeps an accurate record of every single programme that is run by the Centre, including food/emergency distributions, skills and empowerment classes, employment programme, education support and much more.
We would like to sincerely thank ZeShan for their funding in the development of this database, which helps to streamline our resources and enables us to focus further on the development of comprehensive services for supporting our clients’ needs.