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?
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.
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 Displayed alongside quotes, background, and future dreams, these images prove once and for all that outdated stigmas are just that - outdated.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
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.
Check out Your Guide to Volunteering in Hong Kong
or find out what's on in The Weekend Ahead
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