The Awardee of 2022 Hong Kong Humanity Award - Mr Aimé Girimana
Bringing hope to refugees in adversity
Mr Aimé Girimana was a lawyer in his home country Burundi in East Africa. Aimé came to Hong Kong seeking asylum in 2004 and obtained refugee status. In 2013, he became the first refugee employed in Hong Kong legally. Throughout the years, Aimé has been actively supporting asylum-seekers and refugees in Hong Kong, hoping to change the public’s negative perception of them.
Soon after he arrived in Hong Kong, Aimé realised that refugees cannot work legally and are difficult to be self-sustained in Hong Kong. He began to gather food, clothes, and electrical appliances for refugee families to support their basic needs. Later, he devoted his efforts to advocating and improving the living condition of refugees through food programmes, coordination of in-kind donations, etc.
Aimé found most of the general public has a negative stereotype of refugees, and it is simply due to a lack of understanding. To invite the public to learn more about the situations of refugees, he worked with various groups to organise sharing sessions and activities. “We came to Hong Kong with different reasons and stories, but we have the same wish – having a safe living place here. If you are willing to listen to our stories, you may have some brand-new views.” The enthusiasm and devotion of his work for refugees have earned him the trust and respect from refugees across different backgrounds and nationalities, many of them call him “Papa Aimé”. “I am proud that they trust me and are willing to consult me about their difficulties. I hope to ensure them that someone is caring and supporting them, and there is still hope in the plight.”
The refugee work has changed Aimé’s life, he learnt to face adversities with a humble and positive attitude. Having gone through the uncertainties and great pressure of living in an unknown environment, he would like to encourage others who are having a similar experience. “Things can always be worked out if we keep a positive attitude. We have to stay hopeful and always be empathetic to others.” Aimé has a strong belief that with a sincere heart we can build mutual trust and support and live harmoniously together.
Humanity is to bring hope to someone in difficult times.