Family thanks lighten load
TWENTY-FIVE years surrounded by young children - other people's children - might be some people's idea of a nightmare, and Ada Kwan admits she has had her bad days.
As director of the Society for the Protection of Children, Ms Kwan is in charge of operating the 24 centres and identifying new programmes and funding sources. She suffers the strains of any business manager and sometimes wonders why she bothers.
But recently, listening to some of the parents describe what a difference the society had made to their lives, her shell cracked. She started crying.
'This past while, I haven't known what my goals are. I've been working really hard and wondering what I was doing it for,' she confessed.
'But then I see this and it makes me feel so happy.' The parents told how they had been unable to provide proper care for their children because of illness, death, separation or the need to work, and how relieved they were that the society had provided a safe, caring place for them to place their children.
The society is the beneficiary of this year's Operation Santa Claus, organised by RTHK Radio 3 and the South China Morning Post.
It is hoped money can be raised to open new centres in Fanling and Tai Wo, introduce an after-school service for children aged six to 12, do some necessary repairs to the existing 24 centres, and upgrade other services.
Ms Kwan oversees a staff of about 450 who, she says, 'must have love' to withstand the pressures of the job and still provide a decent service.
The same must be said for Ms Kwan, a youthful looking woman who is probably in her 40s, but will not disclose her age.
She is not married and her life is keenly focused on the society and its 2,400 charges.
'I love children and that's why I work here. I can't help them with money, but I can help them in other ways,' she said.
The society caters mostly for low-income and other needy families where the children are at risk of being left alone because parents are working or doing chores and find it too difficult to bring their children along.
'Like the parents, we love children.
'We want them to learn things, like knowing about the outside world and being polite to others,' Ms Kwan said.