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Our City My Story: Hong Kong Life Through the Eyes of the Homeless

By Sophie Pettit 23 November 2016
It's no secret that homelessness is a growing problem in Hong Kong. Close to 2,000 people sleep on the streets every single night - a dramatic increase from the reported figure of 700 in 2013.* Add emergency shelters, cage homes, and fast food restaurants into the picture, and that number continues to grow. We come face to face with deprivation every day, but rarely do we know the stories of those we share this city with. When was the last time we stopped to see the world through the eyes of Hong Kong's homeless? our city my story hong kong charity work homeless photography project Reaching out to this sidelined community, with open ears and a camera in hand, Our City My Story is a new community project which offers us a glimpse into the lives of those less fortunate. Inspired by similar creative projects across the globe, volunteers approached individuals in Happy Valley, Sham Shui Po, and North Point, and asked them to capture their daily lives on film. With a flurry of clicks and flashes across the city, these disposable cameras have became our window into the heart of reality as a homeless Hong Konger - and the view might not be what you expect. [su_note note_color="#eeeeee"]

Jason's Story

our city my story hong kong charity work homeless photography project   Jason has been homeless for over 10 years, moving between fast food restaurants, community shelters, and the street. "I've been going to the Central Library every day for almost 2 years now, even the staff recognise me. I'm very interested in reading books about Chinese medicine, nutrition and how to follow a healthy lifestyle. I've even saved up money to buy a paper pad to take down notes from all the books I read". It is also through daily reading that Jason has taught himself English. He practices through conversation, and says he can now tell the difference between British, American, and Australian accents.[/su_note] Daily routines, personal ambitions, and unwavering determination - Our City My Story humanises the plight of Hong Kong's homeless community one snapshot at a time. Displayed alongside quotes, background, and future dreams, these images prove once and for all that outdated stigmas are just that - outdated. “Getting to know these individuals and uncovering their stories for the past 7 months has been incredibly inspiring", says project leader Stephanie. "If these photos can move people to show kindness and empathy next time they cross paths with someone who’s sleeping out on the streets that night, then the hard work that's gone into creating this project has been all worth it". They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but for the homeless population of Hong Kong, this community project is doing much more. Thanks to Our City My Story, this vulnerable community finally has a voice. *Statistics sourced from The City University of Hong Kong Report 2015, and City-Youth Empowerment Project Survey Report 2013
our city my story hong kong charity work homeless photography projectGet involved! Click here if you're keen to find out more about the Our City, My Story project, volunteer your help, or suggest someone you know who you think would like to participate.
  Read more! Check out Your Guide to Volunteering in Hong Kong or find out what's on in The Weekend Ahead.

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Sophie Pettit


Sophie is always on the lookout for a great story and her next big adventure and loves nothing more than discovering the city’s hidden gems—and most delicious cocktails. When she’s not exploring new places, she’s off travelling and ticking countries off her bucket list.