At RUN, we are committed to listening closely to our refugee participants, and letting their needs guide our work. Our sports programmes were borne out of a need for rehabilitation for vulnerable refugees who had experienced extreme trauma. As our participants grew physically stronger, they asked for opportunities to exercise their minds, just as they did their bodies, leading to the start of our education programme. Now, as we look beyond our participants’ immediate physical and mental needs, it’s clear that we need to be more creative about finding permanent solutions for their future, and we need your help.
A state of limbo
The rate of approval for refugee claims in Hong Kong is dismally low at 0.52%. As Hong Kong has not signed the UN Refugee Convention, even those “lucky” enough to have their refugee claims recognised, cannot stay in Hong Kong permanently, and only 1% of recognised refugees worldwide will be resettled by the UNHCR to another country. With the large numbers of camp-based refugees in need of resettlement, our participants’ applications for resettlement are even less of a priority. As a result, refugees live in limbo in Hong Kong, forced to rely on charitable support from organisations like RUN, as refugees have no right to work in here.
A new model: private community sponsorship in Canada
In Canada, a new model of private community sponsorship has been developed to offer an alternative solution to the years of waiting for resettlement. In a nutshell, local communities are able to sponsor refugees to resettle in their community and commit to helping them integrate into their new home for their first year of stay in Canada.
Last year, Andine* was the first of our participants to benefit from private community sponsorship. After waiting in limbo for six years, Andine and her family finally moved to Toronto in January this year. She relishes her new life in Canada and loves “being free and feeling like a human being again.” As a resident of Canada, she’s entitled to basic rights that she didn’t have before – like the right to travel and the right to work – rights she didn’t have in Hong Kong. Read more about Andine’s story here.
A new future for RUN participants
This year, RUN has the opportunity to pursue further permits for one or two refugee families to settle in Canada in 2020. While the Canadian sponsorship agreement holder will assist with housing, school and job searching, and general integration in Canada, they are under financial pressure to save as many lives as possible, and have asked RUN to fundraise for the sponsorship expenses as determined by the Canadian government.
We need your help to fundraise HK$500,000 by 31st August to enable some of our refugee participants to begin new lives in Canada as early as 2020. Thanks to some generous donors, we have already raised more than 1/3 of our goal! The initial funds raised will be used to secure the departure of two refugee families and one female participant.
Our name RUN stands for Rebuild, Unite, and Nurture. For our participants, rehabilitating from past traumas is only the first step in rebuilding their lives. Will you unite with us to nurture them for a better future in a new home country?
* Name has been changed