Ronald McDonald House
Lau Kit Wai
Address: 23 To Shek Street, To Shek Village, Shatin
What? The non-profit organisation provides temporary accommodation for children who suffer from cancer - or other life-threatening illnesses - and their parents. It is located near the Prince of Wales Hospital.
How? Volunteers are needed for a wide variety of duties, such as housekeeping, gardening, fundraising, organising parties and providing support to families living in the complex. It is also recruiting people for summer weekend raffle sales at select UA cinemas and McDonald's restaurants as well as weekly volunteer duties, for example, office work or running the children's play group. You can apply online at www.rmh.org.hk/vo_app_vol.html or call 2947 8778 for more information.
Volunteer: Stephanie Lau Hiu-yan, 22, is a medical student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
She has been doing voluntary work for Ronald McDonald House for more than three years.
'I normally help with clerical work, such as data entry or designing posters. I sometimes take part in charity sales or help fix computers which are used by the children. The youngsters are very smart. They like to play computer games and know how to download content. The children mostly range from four to 10 years old. Volunteers organise parties for them and a number of schools arrange weekly student visits to help them with their studies.
It is heartbreaking to see children with recurring illnesses. I have seen some children recover from leukaemia, only to fall victim to the disease again. Their chance of recovery grows smaller with each recurrence. Also, the treatment is painful and causes all their hair to fall out.
Sometimes I distract the children by playing the piano with them when their parents are talking with the staff. There are things the children may not want to hear.
The house provides a cozy environment for the parents. They cook together in the kitchen and chat or share meals with each other.
The children become close because some of them have lived in the home for a long time. The residents in the house are like a big family.
As a medical student, these experiences have taught me how to look at things from a parent's perspective. The children suffer during the treatment, but their parents have the most difficult time. Apart from taking care of a sick child, they also need to take care of the rest of their family.'