Asia

Meet the Hong Kong Banker Who Quit His Job to Save Refugees in the Middle East

Have you ever thought of giving up your career to enter not just uncharted territory, but one equally teeming with dangers?

That’s exactly what crossed Jason Yip’s mind. Few years back, the frontline Red Cross worker was an investment banker in Hong Kong, his home city.

Yip’s parents wanted him to follow the “typical” path. He studied business and later worked in investment banking. He shared his story (via South China Morning Post):

“I come from a very ordinary Hong Kong family, my parents didn’t even finish high school. But they’d tried their best to provide everything I needed to enter the University of Hong Kong.”

But Yip did not seem fulfilled working at the bank: “Working in an investment bank can make you blind – you just see your e-mail, your salary, your clients – but I tried my best to stay connected to society.”

After four years, he quit his job and flew to Japan where he studied international relations. There, he learned about the International Committee of the Red Cross and thought, “Wow, this organisation is really the one on the front line. This is the sector that not many people would dare to go to. And those victims are exactly the ones in the most extreme situations.”

Soon, Yip found himself tending to earthquake victims in China’s Sichuan province.

Little did Yip know he was up for more challenging assignments. By the time he worked in Afghanistan, he had to communicate with an armed opposition responsible for abducting 33 schoolchildren and their teachers. Thankfully, he received a response after five days:

“We want to release them, but we cannot release them to the Afghan government or the US govern­ment. We want a neutral organisation in between, so we want ICRC.”

Yip explained, “Our relation with all sides of the conflict was not built overnight… It’s always contro­ver­sial, because people question us: why do you work with terrorists? ICRC does not consider the political agenda of any person. As long as you’re injured during armed conflict and you decide not to fight, the international law gives us author­ization to protect you.”

More recently, Yip went to Syrian refugee camps located between Syria and Jordan, where he continued his meritorious work.

At the end of the day, Yip finally got his mom’s approval. He first lied saying the work he did was based in the office, but apparently, that cover-up did not last long:

“Once she saw the news that I had interaction with armed opposition she started to realize. But, nowadays, she never says no. I think not saying no, from a Chinese family, is the strongest sign of support.”

Images via Next Media

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