Chatteris Refugee Children’s Programme: the Hong Kong Society for Asylum Seekers and Refugees by Oscar Ponton
As part of Chatteris’ community outreach programme, teaching volunteers across all programmes run interactive storytelling sessions for refugee children at HKSASR (the Hong Kong Society for Asylum Seekers and Refugees). On the last Sunday of each month, volunteers go to Kam Sheong Road to meet the society and run these sessions, which aim to engage with disadvantaged children in Hong Kong society and increase Chatteris’ cross-cultural connections. These sessions ultimately provide a fun and relaxing environment for refugee children to play in, whilst allowing CNET’s to interact with a diverse aspect of Hong Kong life which is often in need of such support.
Upon arrival at Kam Sheong Road, we were brought to the house of one of the refugees who kindly let us and the children use his home for the sessions. Dr Isabella Fung of the Education University of Hong Kong was also present as one of the co-founders of the society, introducing us to mothers and their children and helping the sessions run smoothly. When the mothers and children began to arrive, we were met with a mix of very excited children ranging from babies to toddlers from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
The sessions are often broken down into different playful experiences, with many fun songs sung together and some cute animal puppets used to perform them which the children loved to play with. We also used interactive storytelling, reading through old classics like the ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ and ‘Ben’s Bath’ as a group and encouraging the children in their playing. Finally, we finish the sessions often with some creative craft making to leave them with something to take home. Whether through making paper bunny ears, or just the act of storytelling, it’s clear to see the value and fun that the children, mothers and CNET’s take away from it and enjoy from having such sessions.
As the day wound down, we got to meet and speak more with the mothers and interact with some of the more overly excited children. Sessions like these ultimately provide a fun and relaxed environment for children,mothers and CNET’s to enjoy whilst providing a platform for interaction between CNET’s and refugees. The benefits of this community work in action are clear for all to see. Such community work is something that can only make our understanding of different people in these situations stronger, and in a diverse city like Hong Kong, it is important to interact with all aspects of our society in order to create greater compassion between different communities.
All pictures from the sessions and more information on HKSASR can be found on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HKSASR/