Hong Kong, 13 May 2020 – To help this year’s DSE students cope with exceptionally high levels of stress due to COVID-19, Soap Cycling has provided them with hygiene kits on two distribution days on 27 April and 4 May. On a separate distribution trip on 7 May, Soap Cycling also gave away hygiene kits to refugees in Hong Kong, who are excluded from relief packages.
In Hong Kong, as physical distancing measures are eased and many are going back to work, students taking the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (DSE) this year are confronting another new challenge.
With school closures starting in February to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, classes were swiftly switched online. For this year’s DSE students, online tutorials and mock examinations replaced physical simulations at school, and emotional support from their peers or teachers largely came from social media or digital apps. Add to that is the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, and the first postponement of the DSE exam. Stress levels of this year’s DSE students are at an “all-time high”, according to an annual study launched in 2012.
“To support the DSE students, Soap Cycling has distributed 1,250 masks and 250 bottles of 50ml hand sanitizer. Together with the hygiene kit was also a heartfelt note of encouragement, handwritten by Soap Cycling’s volunteers, wishing the students good health and good luck,” said Ronald Ho, General Manager of Asia’s largest soap recycling charity, and father of a DSE student this year. “From the fear of infection to the uncertainty of not knowing whether the examination would happen, the emotional stress is felt by the students and their parents. We hope that by giving students the sanitary resources and face masks they need to stay healthy, we can also provide much-needed emotional support.”
Ever committed to serving the under-served, Soap Cycling reached out to the Refugee Union to distribute alcohol swabs, hand sanitizers, antibacterial cleaning wipes, a bottle of Dettol antiseptic liquid, and one reusable cloth mask each to 170 refugees.
In Hong Kong, refugees don’t have the right to work, and have to live on the monthly assistance provided by the government. The monthly assistance includes HK$1,500 of rent, paid to the landlord directly; HK$1,200 of food allowance, available in a pre-paid supermarket card; HK$300 for utilities; and an amount of petty cash for transportation.
Further adding to the struggles of refugees is their lack of access to financial assistance and sanitary resources, as they are excluded from the Hong Kong government’s COVID-19 relief packages. As donation stops coming in while the city grapples with the economic downturn, charities and other organizations that serve refugees are now finding themselves unable to provide basic services to this marginalized community, which have no means to secure face masks and sanitary products.
“The predicament of refugees is largely ignored in Hong Kong. We hope that by distributing 170 hygiene kits to 170 refugees, we can not only help them better cope with COVID-19, but that we can also raise public awareness of their situation,” said Ronald.
Soap Cycling is one of the social businesses that continue to serve the underprivileged communities during these difficult times. Please consider making a donation to help it provide support services that are now needed more than ever.