Monday 26 January 2015

The Girl Behind The Face

An introduction to Tina, Mui and Sai Kung… and our Facebook page:

Tina says:

I arrived in Hong Kong fresh from school in Germany in 1988 to live with my mum for the very first time. And 26 years later, I’m still in Sai Kung!

The white-sand beaches and rugged mountains of Sai Kung remind me of childhood holidays on Germany’s North Sea coast, and of the little German village I was born and raised in.

I met my husband Rog in Hong Kong – on the set of a TV commercial in Wan Chai – and two weeks after that we were engaged. He writes freelance and teaches writing skills privately. Three years later, while saving to emigrate to Australia and start a birth family, we met our daughter, Mui. Yet it had never been our intention to adopt a child.

During many harrowing moments when her life hung in the balance, and amid much fun and laughter, too, Mui became our unexpected adoption! A great deal has happened since, both good and less so, though a positive outlook has always meant the highs far outweighing the lows.

Sai Kung has changed enormously in 26 years, and Hong Kong is a lot more tolerant towards people with visible differences now than it was twenty years ago when we began raising our daughter. Twenty years ago in Sai Kung a woman spat in my face and accused me of having burnt my daughter – Mui was born with a rare skin disorder called Harlequin Ichthyosis. I believe Hong Kong is better than that now and I hope our book will help raise awareness of visible differences wherever it’s read.

Despite the changes down the years, Sai Kung continues to retain a strong sense of community, both Chinese and expatriate and connecting with the warmth and kindness of the local Chinese population has meant being able to call Sai Kung home.

We had never considered writing a book because we regarded ourselves as an ordinary family. Unfortunately, that changed abruptly one afternoon when our daughter was cyberbullied in the safety of our own home, to the point that she considered suicide. Yet, writing this book remained a difficult decision to take, in part because it included me revisiting my past in Germany in order to give the story a context and foundation that would allow the reader to understand both us and the decisions which led us to adopt our daughter.

Our book, therefore, has an international theme touching on courage, resilience and selflessness, while raising awareness of visible differences.

The story is primarily mine, with Mui playing the key role, but most of the writing was done by Rog. Mui has, however, contributed her own words, too. We hope it is a story worth sharing, because our daughter is, we believe, a girl worth getting to know.

With encouragement, Mui is now the world’s first rugby referee with Harlequin Ichthyosis, she volunteers with a Sai Kung sailing charity – Sailability – which provides a sailing experience for persons with a disability, and she is employed fulltime working with people with special needs.

We started our Facebook page: “The Girl Behind The Face” in the hope that people might “like” and “share” and “tweet” it. A popular Facebook page, we’ve been told, will help us find a publisher. We have been overwhelmed by the incredible support we have received, thus far.

We look forward to many more years in Sai Kung.