Tin Shui Wai: City of Sadness

Tin Shui Wai has been dubbed the 'city of sadness' for its high rate of unemployment, suicides, and spousal and child abuse. Over the last eight years, about 20 people have died in 6 suicides, including a mother and her two children in November.

Due to poor city planning, Tin Shui Wai was originally planned as bedroom community for Hong Kong workers but plans for labour intensive industries nearby never materialized due to the rise of nearby industrial cities in Guangdong province, such as Shenzhen, Dongguan and Foshan. This left Tin Shui Wai with few employment opportunities in the isolated area and high transportation costs to other parts of Hong Kong makes it difficult for people to look for jobs outside the town. This would explain why upwards of 80% of the 270,000 residents are on social welfare.

While the housing projects themselves are orderly and clean, the lack of employment, meaningful social interaction with other towns and government inaction (ignorance?) has led to the isolation of this district from Hong Kong's other suburbs. More job opportunities, transportation subsidies and social workers are urgently needed to change the dire situation.

This is part of a long term photo documentary in honour of the residents and support workers of Tin Shui Wai. More images to come in the coming months.

Click on an image to open the slideshow:

{gallery}MaskofChina/DEC142007{/gallery} PHOTO 1: A boy plays beside a busy Tin Shui Wai street. His single mother has left him to wander the streets as she works handing out leaflets to pedestrians. PHOTO 2: Rows upon rows of high density apartment buildings make up the Tin Shui Wai skyline. While neat and orderly, the problem lies not with the buildings themselves but with the people who suffer from social and financial problems inside them. PHOTO 3: Pakistani boys outside their public residence building. Even though they were born in Hong Kong, attend local public schools and speak fluent Cantonese they are often discriminated against due to their ethnicity. PHOTO 4: Advertisements and odd job posters are attached to an old bicycle. Unemployment is rampant in Tin Shui Wai and many residents will do whatever they can to earn an honest living.