Readers reach out to orphan abode seeker

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 October, 2002, 12:00am

Two months ago Ah-man was contemplating committing suicide.

This week the 19-year-old mainland orphan, who has just $20 a day to spend on food, celebrated her happiest birthday since being abandoned by her adopted Hong Kong mother four years ago, thanks to the gifts and good wishes of South China Morning Post readers.

'This year is the most special and happiest birthday I've had since I came to Hong Kong. Although I have no family, there are so many people out there to help me,' she said.

Ah-man has been in dire straits since identity problems barred her from receiving welfare from July.

The loss of public assistance drove Ah-man to consider committing suicide.

Ah-man has no family in Hong Kong or on the mainland. She was rejected after her birth in Jiangxi province and was adopted by a Hong Kong woman, who abandoned her four months after she came to Hong Kong on a one-way permit in May 1997.

Many Post readers came forward to offer cash, gifts and good wishes after reading of her plight last Saturday.

Ah-man, who turned 19 on Thursday, expressed her heartfelt thanks and said the help had meant a lot to her.

'My birthday marks the day when I was abandoned. While I have had friends to keep me company on my birthday over the past few years, I still felt a bit sad,' she said.

One reader wrote: 'I hope this birthday marks the beginning of new friendships and much-deserved love for her.'

Ah-man's nightmare began when she was allegedly molested by her mother's live-in boyfriend in November 1997 and police intervened. She claimed her mother asked her to drop the sexual assault complaint and then told investigators she was adopted - the first Ah-man knew about it.

While Ah-man agreed to drop the case, her mother abandoned her and police referred her identity problems to the Immigration Department, which accused Ah-man of fraudulently obtaining her identity card. It invalidated the document in March 1998. She is seeking a judicial review of the decision.

The Social Welfare Department insists that Comprehensive Social Security Assistance can only be given to Hong Kong residents. It agreed to grant emergency assistance to Ah-man earlier this month and later promised to extend the subsidies for another month.

But she said the emergency assistance allowed her to spend only $20 a day on food and did not cover the fees of a commercial course she is taking.

Graphic: GIRL26GET