As told to Tegan Smyth
Kiran* has been in Hong Kong for over a decade, after fleeing political persecution in his home country. He shared several Nepalese dishes and discussed how he is trying to make the best life for his family in Hong Kong.
How is it making Nepalese food in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong, our Nepalese food, we can make it but it is not as good as back home. The produce is organic and tasty. A lot of produce here is imported, at Park n Shop and other places. We can’t buy the ingredients to make many of the dishes. You have to go outside, to market, to buy these things. You need cash to buy these things. Park n Shop vouchers will not let us purchase these things to make chapatti, dhal and our other dishes.
What would you tell Hong Kong people if you had the chance?
I like Hong Kong very much, it is beautiful. Hong Kong people are also good, not bad. But the government doesn’t seem to care about refugees and asylum seekers. I find Hong Kong to be a western place, with highly educated people.
I don’t understand why they don’t want to accept refugees and asylum seekers. We are also human beings. Asylum seekers also want peace. Asylum seekers also have family here, children here.
I have been here for 14 years. My children were born in Hong Kong. I am Nepalese but my children are from Hong Kong. They don’t know the life [in Nepal] or the environment. They grew up in the Hong Kong environment. First and second languages for my children are English and Chinese, they can’t hold a conversation in Nepali. If my children – the eldest, who is ten – were sent back, to our home country, he would start from zero. He doesn’t know the language or culture. I have been away from Nepal for 14 years and it would be hard to find a job. I used to be in government.
Were there any political problems when you left?
Maoists blew up my house. They killed my uncle. They kidnapped me three times and threatened me with death unless I joined their political party.
That is why I came to Hong Kong. I came with my wife. My whole family was in the government service, my wife’s as well. Some [family] are still there but they are always on the move, changing the place they live.
I just want a future for my kids. If I had a Hong Kong ID card, I would work. I can’t as it is illegal. My wife is sick and my son is sick but I cannot work [to support them]. If I am caught working, it is 15 months jail for me. So what is my children’s future?
What are your hopes for the future and your children’s future?
My wife and youngest son have cancer. If we do go back to our home country, they won’t get the medical treatment they need. Both are getting their treatment but it takes a long time, it’s two years. They will need to keep getting checkups and medicine. My son as well, he’s only five years old. Luckily, they found [the cancer] early, if it was any later, it would have been very dangerous.
We hope that one day, the government can help us. My case is being processed like many others. We just hope that there is a future.
*name has been changed.
Editor’s note: if you would like to help Kiran or families like his, consider donating your time to Refugee Union as they are always looking for volunteer teachers to give their children extra-curricular opportunities. If you have pre-loved clothes and other items, Refugee Union also collects on behalf of their members.