A family outing to Lantau was all it took to bring back the smiles for Sam's three children. The trip, organised by Christian Action - one of the beneficiaries of last year's Operation Santa Claus - was the South Asian family's first since arriving in Hong Kong in June after fleeing their home country. Sam and his family are among the thousands of asylum seekers in Hong Kong, people who have escaped terror and persecution in their homelands but struggle to survive in this city. 'We receive a monthly allowance of HK$2,000 from the Hong Kong government but can hardly make ends meet with it. It's impossible for us to send the kids to school or even simply take bus for a family outing,' said Sam, who lives with his wife and children in a shelter in Sham Shui Po. The group also helped Sam's eldest child, a 10-year-old daughter, gain admission to an English-medium school last month. 'It is a big change for her,' the father said. 'In our home country, we didn't even allow her near the windows because it was unsafe. Now she is able to play with other children in the sunshine.' Although she still has occasional nightmares, the girl has been learning to get over the terrible experiences of the past and adjust to life in Hong Kong. Christian Action, with funding from Operation Santa Claus, has provided advice and financial support, and has helped with schooling for more than 60 children of refugees and asylum seekers. The group has also provided nutritional support to 16 babies and infants. In addition, Christian Action has provided more than 800 medical consultations for asylum seekers, as well as providing therapeutic support to these people who are often reluctant to go to hospitals because of language and cultural barriers. Yet what makes the group's work special is the variety of recreational activities organised for children. These include learning mural painting and circus skills, dancing and football. Several family trips have also been held and received an enthusiastic response. 'In addition to basic necessities, we offer children many recreational activities, because we believe all kids have the right to have a childhood,' Sarah Cornish, Christian Action's assistant manager of humanitarian services, said. Refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong were a hidden group who had little support, she said. Operation Santa Claus, a charity drive jointly undertaken by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, raised more than HK$16 million last year and funded 27 beneficiaries. Of the total, about one-third went to groups that deal with children and young people; 25 per cent to groups that help the mentally and physically handicapped; and 17 per cent to medical-related projects. Groups dealing with HIV/Aids and helping the elderly received the remainder. This year's Operation Santa Claus will kick off next month.