Happy Tree Social Services

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 June, 2006, 12:00am

Where: Room 610, 6/F, Shing Yip Industrial Building, 19-21 Shing Yip Street, Kwun Tong

What: The charity first began its work in Laos and Cambodia. It registered in Hong Kong in 2003, and recently expanded into the mainland. It is run by volunteers who provide social, educational and medical services to disadvantaged groups, particularly orphans, HIV/Aids orphans and people in poverty.

How: You can join the charity's team of Happy Ambassadors or form a volunteer group with friends to visit orphanages. You can also donate to their Child Sponsorship Programme, which helps to provide orphans with clothing, food, accommodation, education and medical treatment. Visit www.happytree.org.hk or call 2730 0277 for more information.

Teen volunteer: Brian Lo Ka-chung, a 17-year-old student at Li Po Chun United World College, joined a Happy Tree volunteer team in March and went on a trip to Cambodia. He is now president of the organising committee for the Summer Variety Show 2006, which will be held on August 12 to raise funds for a number of charities including Happy Tree.

'We went to Cambodia for eight days where we visited four orphanages, a huge rubbish dump and a primary school.

'Our first visit was to Unacas Orphanage, a home supported by the Phnom Penh branch of Happy Tree, which supports children whose parents died in the civil war or from HIV/Aids. The children were very excited to meet us. We organised games for them and brought them some clothes and books.

'On the second day, we visited the House of Rainbow Bridge, which is also run by Happy Tree. Most of the orphans there are toddlers. They all have Aids and are at the final stage of their life. There is a room that stores the ashes of the deceased babies because the children don't have parents to collect their remains. The mood was very depressing and a few of the female volunteers cried at the sight of the sick orphans.

'We tried our best to make the children happy. We played simple games with them and the atmosphere brightened when some of the children laughed happily.

'We also visited the largest rubbish dump in Cambodia. We were shocked to see hundreds of families living on the piles of garbage. The dump was the size of several airports. There were flies everywhere and children were crawling on the rubbish. We raised about $8,000 before the trip and part of the money we spent on buying rice so we could give it to the families there.

'Our volunteer activities may not help the people very much, but the experience made us realise that there are many people who are a lot less fortunate than us.

'Some of my classmates who came along on the trip are planning to set up a sustainable project to help the orphans there in the long run.'