As famously quoted by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The Swire Group Charitable Trust (Swire Trust) has been working with the Centre for Refugees since 2018 helping to change the world and paving the way for a better future through education for young people whose families have been displaced and are seeking a brighter, safer tomorrow.
Swire has been part of the Hong Kong community for over 150 years, the group is committed to serving this city that in turn has helped it to thrive. To reaffirm its ongoing commitment to Hong Kong, Swire injected an additional HK$150 million into the Swire Trust in 2021 to fund its TrustTomorrow initiative. The initiative has funded over 60 inspirational projects in the areas of Education, Marine Conservation, the Arts, and pandemic relief projects, in the hope of driving lasting and positive change in the Hong Kong community.
A Lifeline for Future Generations
For our young people at the Centre for Refugees this commitment to growth is life-changing. In January 2021, the TrustTomorrow initiative embarked on a meaningful journey to financially support the tertiary education for students whose families are seeking asylum in Hong Kong. Thanks to Swire, we are now able to support 10 students, to include some tuition fees and all the vital extras (transport, meals, books, internet) at universities including Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hong Kong Adventist College, among others.
As an integral part of the Swire Students programme, in a beautiful cycle of education, the students ‘pay it forward’ to the younger students in the refugee community by organising Holiday Camps over Spring & Summer, with outings and fun educational elements. The programme has also become an indispensable part of the annual calendar for our families at Centre for Refugees.
Looking ahead to the future, the programme has also been able to contribute to the Resettlement Fund, which is a vital part of the journey for the refugee community. Resettling to another country beyond Hong Kong will allow refugees to receive official country ID and be able to travel freely, and safely, without jeopardising their official visa status. Since 2021, 33 individuals have been assisted towards resettling in other countries where they will be confident of a future as a normal recognised citizen.
In times of uncertainty during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Swire has also provided funding for emergency COVID-19 relief for the refugee community, including protective supplies, medical care and psycho-social support for those unable to work, or leave their small accommodations.
Tina Chan, Group Head of Philanthropy at John Swire & Sons (H.K.) Limited, highlights the foundation’s strategy behind such invaluable support.
“Swire is concerned with ensuring that communities in Hong Kong are able to continue to thrive, whatever their circumstances, and there certainly have been extenuating situations of late. One of our principals is to find those communities in Hong Kong who tend to receive little support, are less understood, or are battling in the face of extreme adversity.
“We have been working with Centre for Refugees for many years, and continue to learn so much about the challenges which this community faces. We are committed to supporting the Centre, helping to empower a beautiful group of people who, despite struggles beyond our imaginations, remain determined to create a better life for their own children and families and contribute their considerable skills, strength and spirit to our society in Hong Kong.”
Voices of Tomorrow
Two of the programme's supported students who are studying at University of Wollongong College Hong Kong explain how the opportunity to attend university has changed their path for good.
"It feels surreal for me to be able to pursue tertiary education and have the opportunity to build my foundation for my future especially when, not long ago, university wasn't even an option for refugees and asylum seekers."
- Studying for Associate in Information Systems Development
"As a refugee, I always thought it would be impossible for me to have access to tertiary education. But even with that thought in my head, I still worked hard hoping I'll get a chance, and thanks to Swire they provided me with that opportunity. I'll be forever thankful."
- Studying for Associate of Social Science in Applied Psychology
We look forward to working closely with Swire as we watch our students continue to grow and graduate, creating opportunities and a brighter future for our society. We also wish our resettled families well in their future beyond Hong Kong and continue to pursue these opportunities on behalf of our clients.