Sham Shui Po is Hong Kong’s poorest district with a poverty rate of 18.2 percent.
While living in clustered subdivided homes and having no space for children to do their homework on a decent table may be hard, but under the west Kowloon corridor, between Tung Chau Street Temporary Market and the Tung Chau Street Park, is where over 100 homeless reside for the past 5 years.
People here came from all walks of life. Some are Vietnam refugees, some are middle-aged unemployed and a few are transgenders who are rejected by their family. However, they all have one thing in common – they all struggle for a normal life.
This is the Hong Kong slum.
This is the Hong Kong slum. (Caroline Kwok)
The slum is of approximately 300 meter long 5 meter wide with over 50 building units. (Caroline Kwok)
Many homeless gather abandoned furniture pieces such as mattress, drawers and tables, wood and cardboard on the street to build themselves a home. There are units that is for one occupant and there are larger complex for eight or more friends. (Caroline Kwok)
The slum is divided into two major parts including the Vietnam refugee and the local homeless. The division is set between these two pillars. (Caroline Kwok)
64-year-old Chan Yuk Kuen is a self-acclaimed Christian who have been living in this slum for at least 7 weeks. A typical day of him will be begging on the streets and taking a shower at the nearby Pei Ho Street Municipal Services Building. (Caroline Kwok)
Chan only has a little more than $5 in his bank account so he had not been able to replace his stolen identity card for $370 even though he had filed a record to the police. “I have prayed to god.” He said. (Caroline Kwok)
Chan injured his thigh walking pass a rusted nail in the slum at night. He complained about not having enough money for transportation to the Yau Ma Tei Jockey Club Specialist Clinic for wound care appointment tomorrow. (Caroline Kwok)
Chan said he had not eaten a meal for the past two days and had been bit by woodlouse. “my back is very itchy.” He said. (Caroline Kwok)
This organization named the Perfect Church holds charity events on regular basis. They give church lessons and distribute meal sets, rice and clean clothing for the homeless people. (Caroline Kwok)
Under such great struggle to regain a normal life, some have developed mental illness. They are heavily reliant on drug abuse which, in turn, make them even more unfit for a job. (Caroline Kwok)
Chan is making a phone call to the Shek Kwu Chau Treatment and & Rehabilitation center to change his appointment date for his drug abuse treatment package. (Caroline Kwok)
Some homeless will collect and fix broken bicycles, toy cars and electronics. They will put them on sale at Pei Ho Street night market for extra income. (Caroline Kwok)
Sing (right) is a Vietnam refugee who smuggled into Hong Kong 20 years ago. He said he had had multiple short-term jobs including street cleaner, security guard, renovation worker and construction worker. (Caroline Kwok)
Being refined to a small space and crowded neighborhood, the high temperature during summer could be unbearable so they build this simple device with plastic bottles as their air conditioners. Hot air blows through the bottom of the bottles and will be cooled down as air pass through the small opening. (Caroline Kwok)
Some units are wired with minimal electricity supply that are connected to small electricity generators for when the night falls. (Caroline Kwok)
Relatives and friends will come by and visit the homeless. Some may even bring them food and stay overnight to show more support. (Caroline Kwok)
With previous criminal records or just being released from prison, many find difficulty to start a new life by getting a new job with stable income or rent a cage home for $4,000 a month. Therefore, they return to the street where it is very likely that they will resort to crime again under their neighbor’s influence in order to earn a living. This is a vicious cycle that is not easy to escape. (Caroline Kwok)