A cosy al fresco table suits a casual lunch
With a style icon in Rihanna and idol in South Sudanese-Australian supermodel Adut Akech, Ilunga sees the power of fashion to challenge perceptions about marginalised groups. Realising that Akech was a former refugee herself had a huge impact on Ilunga and steeled her confidence to set up the organisation. ‘I had goosebumps. I was like, “Oh my God, if she can do it, I can do it”. You are more than just a refugee. I'm more than just a person to pity,’ she says. She hopes that going forward, younger generations of refugees and asylum seekers will have more role models in the public eye, showing them that there is a future no matter what the present circumstances are.
What’s next for Harmony HK? ‘We’re preparing for the next Harmony Show — it’s happening in December,’ she says. Playing the long game, however, is also on the cards. ‘The goal is for Harmony HK to one day spread around Asia, to show diversity not through the lens of pity but as something that has value,’ she adds.
Whether it’s the practice of sharing food in Congolese culture, the shared plates of our lunch or the opportunities Ilunga is sharing with other under-represented youths in Hong Kong through her platform, there’s one thing I feel certain of as we conclude our meal: what was shared today is only the beginning, as Ilunga is clearly a young woman with a star on the rise.