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Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong

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With different religion and culture, how ethnic minorities in Hong Kong adapt the surroundings and finding their own joy in here?
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《Midnight Workers 2016》 The Coldest Night


《Midnight Workers 2016》 The Coldest Night

Ayub walks into a freezing cold store after putting on his cotton-padded coat and hair restraint. Every day from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day, Ayub works in this gigantic refrigerator with temperature below 4℃ where he packs crushed ice cubes into bags for sales. Such a frigid, hermetic and dark environment is ordinary in the eyes of Ayub, as he just wants to earn more money in support of his family.
Ayub is a Hong Kong resident of Pakistani descent. He has lived in Hong Kong for over two decades and has worked in many fields. Before he came to Hong Kong, Ayub used to work in Kuwait as an assistant building surveyor but warfare drove him back to his country. Then he married his wife who was born in Hong Kong, and eventually ended up living in Hong Kong.
When he first arrived, language barrier, unable to pursue further studies and inapplicable skills were the problems that followed. Ayub has worked as a construction site labourer, a carpet salesperson, etc. He has encountered situations where he needed to rely on friends’ supports when he was unemployed. Now, if one asks what kind of job Ayub wants, his answer would undoubtedly be “The toughest job with the highest pay.” The Muslim culture puts on his shoulders the absolute responsibility to support his wife and children, and he willingly takes on all the expenses of the other six family members along with the tuition fees of his five children all for his motto - “A true man never goes back on his words. Marriage and children come with the responsibility of family-rearing that one shall never elude.” These words come with unwavering credibility from Ayub’s mouth as he is a living example of such belief.
However, as a member of an ethnic minority, it is difficult to feed a family in a competitive place like Hong Kong. Shaoib, Ayub’s fellow countryman, is a university graduate in his early twenties with great command of oral English. He has also experienced the agony brought about by language and cultural barriers, which put ethnic minorities in predicament in the course of job-seeking. He is now working in a labour institution where he works at night to serve South Asians. Shaoib points out that the inability to read and write Chinese is equal to death sentence to South Asian job seekers, because they cannot understand any job advertisement, fill in any application form, nor take any test for artisan licences.
Ayub devoted himself in job-seeking with no avail, and the Labour Department was unable to help. Eventually, he has taken the night job in an ice-making plant referred by LI Ka-shu, a social worker from the same labour institution where Shaoib works for.
Working all night long has disturbed Ayub’s circadian rhythm. Every day after his heavy physical work, Ayub can only get three to four hours of sleep. However, Ayub knows that many of his fellow countrymen tend to work on nigh shift because they can find another part-time job at day, so as to pay the family bills. Ayub has already worked in the ice-making plant for two years, and his diligent and conscientious manner has gained the trust of his manager, Simon. Simon was doubtful about South Asian workers, but he has gradually developed recognition of such inter-cultural co-operation and has hired a few South Asian workers referred by Ayub afterward.
Nonetheless, as Ayub puts his shoulder to the wheel, the job has slowly taken a toll on Ayub as he grows older and a daytime job now suits him better. With the continuous attempt of Shaoib and Ka-shu, Ayub had finally found a job as a baggage handler at the airport. However, Ayub made the decision to turn down the job offer after three days of training. Although it was a daytime job, working in the apron area was more than toilsome for him. Moreover, the working hours were too long with long commute and low salary.
Ayub finds his way back to the cold night. Same as many other billowing members of ethnic minorities in this city, he is waiting for his prosperous dawn to come.
Producer: Hung Ka-wing
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