Friday, 29 May 2015

Why write a book? Because of recurring ignorance like last Thursday on the minibus:


On Thursday morning, Mui headed off to work as usual – she works at the Rock Foundation in Wan Chai.
 
Mui takes up the story:
 
I was running towards the minibus stop at Sai Kung Town Hall at about 8:25a.m. and though the minibus was almost full, I managed to get a seat near the front.
All seemed fine.
A few minutes later, as we were passing Lions Park, the driver started making some comments in Chinese and pointed to the bus stop ahead. I ignored him as I had no idea he was talking to me. The driver then stopped at the bus stop and pointed at me and indicated I should get off. I refused, and asked other passengers around me if someone could translate what the driver was saying.
I was told he was saying my face had allergies.
In Chinese, I told him I had a skin condition.
By now people were pulling out their earphones to listen.
Passengers said that the driver didn’t want me on the bus. I asked why. They told me he said that my face made him want to vomit.
Passengers were getting upset with him and saying this was “discrimination” and “there’s nothing wrong with her” and “drive the bus”.
I was in tears but I got it together.
A North American woman threatened to call the cops. She was also upset that this was happening and kept saying “this is discrimination”.
After almost five minutes standing at the bus stop with the driver saying my face made him feel sick and saying he wanted to vomit, a woman behind me offered to switch seats with me so we could just get to Hang Hau. We did that. She said she was going to report the driver and I thanked the woman.
When I got off, I wrote down the license plate number.
After that I rang my mum, but there was no answer. Then my mum rang back and I talked to my mum and dad. That helped because I was a mess by then. I couldn’t stop crying on the phone.
My parents calmed me down and came up with some plans. Oh, and they also told me they’d give me a hundred dollars to buy something way too expensive with way too much cream from Starbucks! I got a “birthday cake frappuccino”!
 
I want to thank my mum and my dad (he helped me write this!) and all the people on the bus and people from all over the world on social media, for their support.
 
On Facebook, Rog wrote:
 
At Mui’s request, I have reported the incident this morning to the minibus company – 101m.
If / when required, Mui will follow it up with support from Tina and me (and, hopefully, you).
Unfortunately this sort of thing has happened all too often over the past 20 years – perhaps more frequently than people realize, and it’s often been worse. (It has happened overseas e.g. Europe, too. It is not only Hong Kong.)
And yes, you suck it up and smile, but no, you can never just shrug it off. While it is, of course, exhausting and upsetting to deal with as parents, it is so very, very terrible for Mui, or anyone else, to be confronted with.
Mui is an ordinary young woman, and despite her cheery exterior, such insults wear her down.
As a family, we do not believe in witch-hunts, nevertheless such behaviour as the driver’s is completely unacceptable.
As you can imagine Mui was bitterly upset on the phone to Tina and me. No one deserves such treatment.
We are grateful for the support given Mui by those with her on the bus.
We hope that by raising awareness of living with a visible difference, we will help contribute to reducing and / or eliminating such instances as endured by Mui, today.
 
The Following Day
Mui adds:
 
Yesterday morning’s minibus discrimination was pretty unpleasant but many people have come forward to help. It’s been suggested that the driver in question has been known to cause trouble and others have complained about this. I spoke to the old chap who works at the minibus terminus and through translation, he said the driver has been fired over everything he has done.
I hope that people will be more open to those with disabilities and differences. Thank you so much for your support!
Mui, Tina and Rog XX
 
As a family we say:
 
Of course, there is a lot worse happening to other people around the world, nevertheless, no one should be treated the way Mui was.
 
We hope our book, as well as our school talks and motivational talks, will help to raise awareness of, amongst other things, people living with Visible Differences.

To find out more, here’s the link to our website: http://thegirlbehindtheface.weebly.com

If you think what happened to Mui is unacceptable then please go to our Facebook page The Girl Behind The Face and click “Like”.

The more people you tell about our Facebook page, the more opportunities we will have to raise awareness.

Thank you for your support.