Share some sunshine
SIXTEEN Solar Ambassadors, together with three music artists, Nadia Chan Chung-Ling, Annie Leung and Chris Wong, brought sunshine to the lives of residents of the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association recently.
It was rare for the residents to have so many energetic young people visiting them, let alone to meet celebrities face to face.
''We chose to visit this centre because we know that these recovering mentally ill patients rarely have visitors from family members or friends,'' said Ms Ng Man-Yee, executive producer of the Solar Project '93..
''It is also a very good opportunity for the Solar Ambassadors to meet these kind of patients and learn how to care for them.'' The New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association was established for those recovering mentally ill patients who are well enough to leave the hospital, yet not well enough to adapt to society.
A staff of 98, including social workers, nurses and physiotherapists, look after the residents. About 200 men and women live at the centre.
''I joined to see whether this kind of project was just for the media's entertainment and advertising use,'' said Michelle Yu Pui-Man, a second-year student at Hong Kong University and one of the Solar Ambassadors.
''I found that there's more to it than that. I have definitely widened my horizons through the visits organised by Solar Project.'' Another Solar Ambassador, Chan Tsz-Fung, said that he was ''forced'' by friends to join the programme at the last minute.
Asked if he regretted it, he answered: ''No, I'm actually enjoying serving people!'' A group of students of the Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) were among those visiting the centre. They made use of their skills and did repair work on windows and furniture while they were there.
Actress and singer Nadia Chan Chung-Ling said: ''I came not just to visit, but to show the residents that we care. I also want to break the stereotyped idea that these are not approachable people. They just need extra care.'' Chris Wong, another star guest, said he had gained much knowledge about mental illness, adding that the experience of speaking to the patients and seeing their happy reactions was very rewarding.
To conclude the visit, the Solar Ambassadors and the CITA students painted a Solar Project logo on one of the dormitory walls.
The three music artists planted sunflowers in the garden as a reminder to patients of the solar spirit the ambassadors had brought to them.