The coronavirus pandemic has been raging globally since 2019, and Hong Kong has not been spread. Everyday-changing public health measures have become “the new normal”, meaning so much of what constituted our daily existence - our work, play and rituals - has been forced to change too. Our research investigates ethnic minorities in Hong Kong and the way their lives have changed and adapted to life in the time of COVID-19.
During the pandemic, many social problems have gotten worse. Early in our study, the research team was impressed by news reports regarding ethnic minorities and the particular challenges they appeared to be facing, cut off from the main lines of communication and communal resources as they seemed to be. For example, many were left in ignorance of the two-day lockdown in Jordan in 2021 because of language barriers. The food supplied included pork but lacked vegetarian options, demonstrating either ignorance or neglect of ethnic minorities’ culinary needs and religious background. In fact, both the official information and the neighborhood buzz were mainly in Chinese or English. Ethnic minorities tended to have difficulties in understanding the fast-changing world they were confronted with and finding helplines proved difficult too.
According to the census conducted by the Census and Statistics Department in 2016, there were about 584,383 non-Chinese people in Hong Kong, or about 8% of the population. A minority constituted of other minorities, but, taken as a whole, a large portion of the population who suddenly found the difficulties of their lives in Hong Kong exacerbated by the pandemic and relative lack of support. Throughout the research, the team hoped to walk in the shoes of the neglected communities not only to understand their challenges, emotions and transformations, but also to encourage communication via the media of art and literature. As such, we hoped to carry out a dialogue between equals, and discover possibilities for mutual understanding and appreciation.