St Barnabas

My teammates and I had a great opportunity to serve at the St. Barnabas’ Society and Home (SBSH), a religious charity organization that aims to help the poor and homeless. Although it is a small NGO funded mostly by donations, SBSH workers and volunteers are full of love and passion. They do their very best to help the needy not only to survive but to live with dignity and hope. It was a blessing and honour to be with them during Challenge Week. The whole experience was memorable and I found these occasions particularly unforgettable.

We were told to collect enough scrap carton boxes on the street to sell for a lunch for a friend in SBSH. It was the first time for me to pick up scrap paper for money. Admittedly it was not an environmental campaign activity and was not enjoyable. What broke my heart was that we had to compete with other old people in this search of waste. We faced this dilemma for the whole day. Should I pick up every piece of scrap? Or should I leave it for the most needed? It was no easy decision. At last, we managed to earn around $100 and bought some nice food for the friend at SBSH.

Later we had a chance to visit Ms. Chan, an elderly living alone. She lives in a tiny apartment and apparently she is not able to do much of the home chores on her own. Admittedly again I rarely do home chores but I went straight into the kitchen and started washing the cutlery. I was stunned to see Ms. Chan own so many unused knives with hundreds of dead ants on them. The image of these knives and ants is still vivid in my mind. I took courage to remove the ants and tried my best to clean up the knives. She was pleased to see a cleaner and tidier home and we were glad too. On the way to SBHS, I held Ms. Chan’s hand and we walked together. She mentioned about her childhood and she regretted that she was not educated. She reminded us to study hard in a hope to contribute to society in the future. I was deeply touched.

Our last task was to collaborate with the photography team on an oral history project. They took pictures of the elderly while we interviewed them. It was nice to talk with the seniors and learn from their past and experience. We held a photography exhibition in mid-December at SBSH. The friends of SBSH came and visited the exhibition. When they saw their own photographs, we saw the joy in their eyes.

Thanks to such a great chance, I am able to appreciate the issues of poverty and neglect in Hong Kong. Happiness does not come from feeding and giving but from sharing and comforting. Donating money does not really help. What truly makes a difference is to help others by being generous of heart, of action and of time.

Rita Cheung (12C)