'One person can make a difference', speakers say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:50pm


Small but significant actions that make the world a better place - that was the theme as 400 people gathered in Wan Chai last night to listen to a host of inspiring stories.

TEDx talks are organised by Hongkongers licensed by the TED brand - a charity that started in California 26 years ago. Speakers tell their life stories in 18 minutes, under the slogan 'ideas worth sharing'.

And the idea that echoed through the Shouson theatre at the Hong Kong Arts Centre was that one person can make a difference.

'Start it small but start it right,' said Carrie Tang, 23, who started her own magazine. 'Most of us do the talking, instead of the walking.'

Disillusioned with her career prospects, five years ago she decided to create DreamMag, a free magazine that has published five issues since its launch last January. 'It's a platform for young people to share their stories, such as starting up a social enterprise or initiating their own volunteer network,' she said.

Another speaker, shark conservationist Bertha Lo, is campaigning for a ban on shark's fin soup, despite Hongkongers' traditional attachment to the dish. The simple act of refusing a bowl of the soup at a formal banquet might lead relatives to shun it, she said. Even so, it was important to take a stand.

Scott Neeson, founder and executive director of the Cambodian Children's Fund, described the fund's efforts to provide education and support for at-risk children.

For years, he lived the Hollywood dream as president of Twentieth Century Fox, working on films such as Titanic and the Star Wars prequel trilogy. However, during a trip to Cambodia in 2003, he visited a landfill in Phnom Penh where he saw hundreds of children scavenging through toxic waste, prompting him to start his organisation.

Other speakers included Hongkonger Robin Hwang from Foodlink, which collects excess food from hotels and restaurants and redistributes it to underprivileged groups; Hongtong Sirivath from Village Focus International Laos, which advocates villagers' land rights; and Richard Brubaker from the volunteer network Hands On.

The event was curated by Paul Angwin of People and Planet, which advises on philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.