first person

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 October, 2005, 12:00am


Related topics

Lee Jark-pui, 66, is the chairman of the Agency for Volunteer Service, Hong Kong

Volunteering comes very naturally to me. This is partly because of my family upbringing, as well as my school education.

At no time did anyone tell me that I should be smart, beat anybody else or make a lot of money. The message I got is that I should grow up to serve. When I was younger and I could help someone I was happy.

As a student, I was not very active. I read broadly and didn't do much outside the family and school.

I am from a very traditional and old-fashioned family. We were not particularly well off. I am the fifth in a family of seven and my mother was kept very busy. My parents didn't volunteer but they always said that I must be a useful member of society. The humblest way to contribute is through time and effort. I may not have money, but I have time and effort and the heart to do it.

My education contributed to my interest in serving others. I went to a Catholic school so my education had a strong religious orientation. There is a saying I remember that seems to fit in with my way of thinking: 'The source of happiness is in helping others.'

As a university student I volunteered from time to time. I studied arts, economics, social science and sociology, then I joined the Social Service Group. It is a student body trying to help the under-privileged in our community. I was a volunteer teacher to some poor children for a while. At university, I started to do extra-curricular activities. In the second year, I was a librarian for the economics society.

After I graduated, my first job was as a marketing executive. Then I joined the civil service in the commerce industry. After about seven years, there was an opportunity for me in the Chamber of Commerce. At the time, I was thinking about whether I should move and eventually I thought, even working at the Chamber of Commerce I would still be serving a useful purpose because the economy is very important and at that time, import and export manufacturing were major contributors of Hong Kong's GDP. In that sense, If I could help promote business I would be helping the community but from a different angle.

In the Chamber of Commerce, I was the chief executive and opportunities arose where I could sit on the committees of various non-governmental organisations or serve on government committees. Some of this related to my job but because of this experience, I started being more and more involved in volunteering work like the Family Welfare Society.

About one or two years ago, I set up a council in the Chamber of Commerce and tried to involve the different sectors in promoting volunteering to the entire community.

I feel that you can volunteer at any moment that you wish, as long as you have the heart to. You don't have to join any particular group. The important thing is just to do it.

I have been with a number of other NGOs. My volunteer work is mainly working on committees. There are a range of NGOs where I offer myself as a committee member and contribute my thoughts and experience to their operation. I have been a member of the Agency for Volunteer Service since the early 1980s.

I occasionally served on the executive committee. Although I have been involved with a range of agencies in social service and other areas, I have been at this one for the longest time.

The Agency for Volunteer Service is a member of the International Association for Volunteer Effort, the international body for volunteering, which will hold a conference here from November 7 to 9, with the theme: Volunteerism - A Driving Force for Community Building.