Injured First-Aider Kicked Out of Home
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
The 2019 political protests in Hong Kong have yielded many personal and very touching stories. We would like to add this one to the collection, with sincere thanks to the journalist who conducted the interview:
The wounds of this city are left in every citizen’s heart. The anti-Extradition Bill Movement has continued for half a year, with 2,600 people injured. Some were blinded, some suffered broken or dislocated limbs, some suffered psychologically and their families were destroyed. But even though the wound hasn’t healed, some of the wounded are moving past their experiences and are looking forward to the realisation of the Five Demands, recuperating quickly so that they can rejoin the frontlines to save others, and sending their well-wishes to their brothers and sisters for their happiness and safety. They, along with all Hongkongers, are experiencing these wounds together in their quest for justice, and are choosing to keep fighting the good fight.
Teargas burnt his back, his family kicked him out, but he’s waiting to get back to the frontlines to save people:
He thought that politics had nothing to do with him, but Yan, a Hong Kong Shue Yan University freshman, threw off his apolitical lifestyle and began volunteering as a first aider on the frontlines. In November, he was injured when a Chinese teargas canister landed between his back and his backpack, burning him severely. His wound has not yet closed. Yan has no regrets about being on the frontlines, but his mother does not understand. When he was released from the hospital, she threw him out of their home. “I don’t need your support or agreement. Your understanding is enough. I will only want to return home if she shows me some understanding,” said Yan.
“When the teargas exploded, my back hurt a lot. But I could still talk and call home. I thought I’d be okay.” The teargas canister [after getting lodged on his back] continued to emit flames. A third of his back suffered second degree burns and Yan had to receive skin grafts. Even now, the wound still bleeds.
But while the pain of the flesh will subside, the crack in his family could be more difficult to mend. Yan was raised in a single parent home and his political stance and values are quite different from his mom’s. He describes his mom as “so blue, she’s purple.” Yan is part of the St. John Emergency Rescue Unit and would go to the [horse] race tracks to volunteer. His mom always asks, “If you aren’t being paid, why do you work until the middle of the night?” When the protests began, Yan would often go to the frontlines to help. “She thinks the protestors are starting trouble, and says that I’m also starting trouble. But I don’t care which side a person is on, I’ll still help them.”
After he was admitted into the hospital, he called his mother, who said, “Don’t call me even if you’re on your deathbed.” He also could not return home after being released from the hospital. “She told me to leave my keys... I’ll just treat it as an early emancipation. I feel that she will think of me as a child whom she lost.”
Yan and his mom have argued over politics many times. He has tried many times unsuccessfully to change his mom’s stance.
During the Umbrella Movement, Yan was a sophomore in high school and felt that politics were irrelevant to his life. As a high school student, the lack of universal suffrage did not directly affect him. Since the Extradition Bill, he has begun to understand the issues and proactively discussed them with his friends, shedding his sleeper videogamer life of an apolitical Hongkonger.
Spending his 19th birthday on Christmas Eve with his first aider unit:
On the front lines, Yan saw the protestors endure water cannons and teargas, and has seen people who are so scared that their entire bodies are shaking. On Christmas Eve, he turned 19. With him were his first aider unit. Yan has no regrets about being a first aider, and can’t wait to recuperate and return to the front lines.
Mingpao reporter Hui Fong-man
The original article in Cantonese was published in Mingpao, 26th December, 2019
ALSO LEAVING HOME:
Hong Kong Protester Calculates Personal Toll After a Year of Activism, 7 July 2020, VOA NEWS