“Humanity in COVID”
About Humanity in COVID:
Life is like a drama. You cannot guess when you will win or lose. It is full of ups and downs. As the tidal waves of the times tumble relentlessly, the grassroots are pushed to the edge of the storm. In the distant past, boats were broken during typhoons and it was uncertain when the boat dwellers could be accommodated ashore. Recently, when the pandemic sweeps across the world and causes incessant waves of unemployment. The grassroots remain suffering from high rents. The underprivileged community is fragile and powerless in the general environment.
Fortunately, though the waves are merciless, there is love in the world. Society for Community Organization(SoCO) has been steadfastly engaged in community work for half a century. While serving the grassroots, we have also been witnessing true love in times of hardship.
This exhibition comprehensively documents the grassroots encounter of the obstacles to housing, education, welfare and healthcare during COVID-19. The photographers go into the community. Through video images showing various kinds of “love” at the grassroots, it enables the public to savor stories of self-improvement in adversity. Elderly doubletons care for and support each other; children housed in tiny subdivided units still strive for progress and improvements; street sleepers in the stormy streets watch out for each other and share their resources… The exhibition allows the public to explore, more comprehensively, different aspects of the underprivileged lives.
1st round exhibition:
Opening hours: 10am –10pm daily (19/8: 3pm – 10pm; 25/8: 10am – 9pm)
Exhibition Venue: Foyer Exhibition Areas E3, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
2nd round exhibition:
Exhibition Period:4/9/2022-25/9/2022 (Every Saturday and Sunday)
Opening hours: 10:30am –6:30pm
Exhibition Venue: 1/F, 269 Yu Chau Street, Sham Shui Po
Entrance fee: Free
Photographers: Brian Ching, Lei Jih-sheng, Forest Au
Cage home “herd immunity”
As soon as the fifth wave of the pandemic started, the densely populated cage homes with shared kitchens and toilets became the hardest hit areas. Some friendly residents helped each other to buy supplies, food…
However, more residents dared not tell their flatmates that they had tested positive. Fearing that they would be driven out to the street by the landlord or disliked by their flatmates, they shut themselves up in their bedspaces. Only during meal time did they, wearing double masks, slipped out to buy take-away food or get assistance from social workers. For the rest of the time, they remained in their 15 sq.ft small bedspace apartments, anxiously waiting for government officials to take them to the quarantine centre.
All at once, with their lives, the residents of cage homes realise “herd immunity”!
My Toy Story
The public generally avoids homeless people during the pandemic. So the street sleepers are more vulnerable and mainly rely on institutions to provide care. Aaron, a homeless person who loves collecting used toys, thanked everyone that reached out to help, “I want to rent a subdivided unit as soon as possible.”
Buildings near the park where he lived have already been converted into luxury homes, and the rents for subdivided units increased more than these flats. Across from the high rise, Aaron only wants to have a roof for himself and his toy family.
Guided tour and Human library
- Our social workers will lead you to admire the exhibits and analyze the problems which the grassroots faced, allowing you to see our city differently. Likewise, our service users will share their experiences under COVID-19. Besides, the photographers are here to indicate the exhibits’ ideas and structure to catch the most authentic moment with you!
- Two free guided tours for the public
- The quotas are limited; a reservation is necessary. First come, first reserved.
New Publication: “Humanity in COVID”
Early Bird Special- Community Walk
- Our new publication, “Humanity in COVID”(Price HK$180), will sync show up in the exhibition on 19/8.
- The publication has an extended edition of all the exhibition’s stories.
- With the contents which are unexposed in the exhibition, including around 30 photos and four new stories
- To support our new application from now til 25/8, you will reserve one quota of the exhibition’s guided tour. Besides, you will extra get a free community walk chance. Our frontline workers will visit Kowloon District and send the “care” to the grassroots living in the cage homes and cubicles/ homeless persons with you!
Message from the Director:
The new coronavirus is the deadliest and longest pandemic in Hong Kong in over a century. This “pandemic/battle” is like opening a Pandora’s box, fully exposing the fragility and inadequacy of Hong Kong’s healthcare, housing, labour, education and welfare systems, which are in dire need of attention and improvement by the society.
As the pandemic rages on, the poor are in extreme panic, being on the verge of death due to starvation or disease. The grassroots workers lose their jobs, which are their means of living. Various surveys conducted by SoCO reveal that over 90% of them are unemployed or underemployed. The percentage is far higher than that for Hong Kong as a whole. They suffer double injuries in that their expenses increase tremendously when there has been a big drop in income. The list of supplies for pandemic prevention is getting longer and longer: masks, hand sanitizers, face shields, rapid test kits, medicines, dry rations, etc. It is overwhelming indeed.
In the year 2020, at the initial stage of the pandemic, it was difficult to get a mask in Hong Kong. During the fifth wave in 2022, it became difficult to get through the phone. The height of the pandemic saw more than 50,000 new infections in a single day. Those confirmed or suspected to have been infected could have no recourse to treatment. It was difficult to call an ambulance or police car even during an emergency. Panic, hesitant, helpless… cries for rescue all fell on deaf ears. That was the most real portrayal of our city’s residents in the midst of the pandemic.
I can still remember the day when self-isolated residents in subdivided units phoned to voice, weeping, worries that their families could not survive. The visiting volunteers said courageously, “Don’t worry. We are still here.” The unified efforts of the people and the actions of one “anonymous hero” after another gave “compassion” its most concrete rendition.
Braving possible infection, the grassroots and enthusiastic citizens formed cross-strata volunteer teams and went deeply into the community to visit households in bedspace apartments, wood-partitioned cubicles and subdivided units, handing out anti-pandemic packets and emergency supplies and doing their utmost to support poverty families who had been infected or were being isolated. The adversity stimulated the community to save themselves through cross-strata mutual assistance, as if they were all on the same boat!
What is even more touching is that in order to protect their neighbours from infection, many residents of cage homes and subdivided units who were unfortunately confirmed to have been infected would rather “self isolate” on the rooftop or underneath the flyover despite freezing temperature and pouring rain! Grassroots families shared resources with others even when they were short of supplies; they volunteered to support the community even when they were unemployed and helpless; and they donated even when they were in financial straits! Grassroots workers stand by their duties in the face of the pandemic: disposing of refuse, cleaning the streets, caring for the elderly, helping the sick, etc. Quietly they work hard to fight the pandemic. When they are unemployed, they actively look for jobs, exchange job information and even take care of their neighbours’ meals, building an unstructured but effective mutual assistance network.
It is often lamented that Hong Kong has changed so dramatically in recent years that it is not what it used to be. However, during the pandemic, we see the constant Lion Rock spirit, with people rallying together to support and love each other. Faced with the pandemic of a century, Hong Kong people use their true passion to save themselves and others. Nearly 1,000 corporations, foundations and individuals do charity with compassion, lend a hand in times of trouble, accompany the elderly and vulnerable at the grassroots level to soldier on and together, seek the resources to overcome obstacles. The humanity spirit kindles hope in the community. Confronting the ruthless pandemic, the people of Hong Kong once again manifest the glory of humanity.
My salute to each and every one in Hong Kong who has actively been fighting the pandemic!
Ho Hei Wah, BBS, JP
Society for Community Organization (SoCO)
Get United, Together We Fight the Pandemic!
In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Society for Community Organization (SoCO) has achieved the following (January 2020 to June 2022) :
- Serving 18,000 grassroots households (about 45,000 people), including: cage homes, cubicles, subdivided tenants, street sleepers, grassroots elderlies, the chronically ill, people recovering from mental illness, low-income families, poor women and children, etc.
- Comprehensive support for the grassroots to combat the pandemic, including the provision of anti-pandemic materials, food assistance, emergency fund, e-learning materials, e-learning classes, employment opportunities, job training, child care and family counselling support etc.
- Assistance in kind and distribution of various types of supplies, including over 10 million masks, 400,000 boxes of rapid test kits, 100,000 bottles of alcohol-based hand rub, 30,000 bottles of disinfectant spray, 50,000 food packs, 50,000 meal tickets, 400,000 HK$50 supermarket coupons and nearly HK$20 million of emergency fund
- Conducted 80,000 outreach home/street visits
- Published 44 research surveys to reflect the plight of the grassroots and made over 100 recommendations to the government for improvement
In addition to always standing on the frontline during the pandemic, SoCO provides various regular services to support the grassroots. Your kindness will help us to provide more diverse and comprehensive services.