In the face of difficulties, what motivates you to stand on your feet again? The three years of pandemic were extremely trying for Keith. As he couldn’t find sufficient work to sustain his living costs, he was once homeless and spent some time in uncomfortable cubicle apartment. Yet, Keith stayed positive and continued to volunteer in community services. Later, with the help of social workers, Keith moved into The Salvation Army’s ‘To・Gather’ @ Sam Shing Transitional Housing Project (ToGather), which solved his housing problem, bringing him peace so he could have a fresh start.

Keith’s apartment at ToGather is not lavish but has all the necessities he needs to live comfortably. In his closet hangs his eye-catching work uniform, which is his proof of hard work and contribution to the community. He also hangs up his favourite basketball shirts as well as race shirts and medals from orienteering competitions in the room – sports is Keith’s passion. In his free time, Keith enjoys playing basketball on the court in the compound. ToGather is a place where Keith could live freely and happily.

It is no easy feat to survive in Hong Kong, let alone enjoy life, especially in the past three years when we were under the shadows of the pandemic. The pandemic affected many people’s livelihoods, and logistics – the industry in which Keith works – was among those hit the hardest. As the pandemic reigned, the lack of work affected his livelihood severely, that he became homeless at one point and had to seek help from The Salvation Army’s services for street sleepers.

In the worst time, Keith rented cubicle apartment or sub-divided flat. These places are far from comfortable or hygienic. They were so confined that he could not even move around and had no space to put his personal items. His room was cluttered, blocking the windows, so it was always dim and gloomy.

Keith shared that the owner divided the flat into ten cubicle apartments, so over ten people had to share the space and the washroom. He often had to wait so long for the toilet that he decided to use the public toilet and shower at sports grounds at night before returning home. Keith also pointed out that the flat was often quite noisy and that others might knock on his door for no reason or make noises at night. This affected his sleep quality significantly, which is especially difficult for him as his work requires manual labour. Finding it impossible to rest properly, he moved every few months.

A social worker who knew Keith commented that he has always been positive, even in difficult times. He has never given up on life. He did not even stop volunteering, sometimes helping at service units even after getting off his overnight shift.

With the referral of social workers, Keith applied for TSA ToGather. Social workers at ToGather visited Keith to better understand his case and Keith then moved into a one-or-two-persons unit in the compound. Keith’s living conditions are vastly improved, which is a great comfort for his troubled soul.

As a Christian, Keith described living in ToGather as an amazing grace. By receiving this gift, he hopes to continue serving others and participate in volunteering services. Proactively preparing himself for future challenges, he also enrolled in short-term courses. ToGather is a haven where he can start fresh and turn his life around.