Tuen Mun in Hong Kong's New Territories. Photo: Google Maps

Cultural harmony is an important subject matter in today’s Hong Kong, be it in society or in the schools. Two women, one from Pakistan and the other from Nepal who suffered discrimination when they first came to the city, now devote themselves to helping ethnic-minority students integrate into society.

Ivy Sabba, now 28, moved with her family to Hong Kong from Pakistan when she was five years old, Sing Tao Daily reported. She later enrolled in a primary school, but some of the pupils discriminated against her because she wore traditional apparel to school and because of the language barrier. However, such hardship didn’t defeat her determination to learn Chinese.

Ivy spent time learning the language from TV dramas and worked hard on her studies, and she now speaks fluent Cantonese.

Princess Gurung, a 27-year-old Nepalese woman, also experienced discrimination and the language barrier when she came to Hong Kong 20 years ago, Oriental Daily reported.

It took her two years to find a school, but classmates did not play with her because of her skin color.

“I had no friends from Primary 1 to 3,” she said.

Like Sabba, Gurung overcame the language barrier by putting extra effort into learning Cantonese, such as spending three hours a day in a tutorial class.

The two women now work as liaison officers for Chinese Manufacturers’ Association Choi Cheung Kok Secondary School, 60% of whose students are non-Chinese students. The school is in Tuen Mun in the New Territories.

Both say they want to use their own early experiences to help ethnic-minority students, together with their parents, integrate into the school and in the overall society.