Yan Chai Hospital Social Services Department
Where: 8/F, Yan Chai Hospital Multi-Services Complex, 18 Yan Chai Street, Tsuen Wan
What: The hospital, established in 1973, extended its services to include social welfare in the late 1970s. It now operates over 40 units in Hong Kong, providing elderly, youth, rehabilitation and childcare services for the community.
How: The hospital operates small group homes for four- to 18-year-olds whose parents are unable to care for them. The children live at the homes and receive guidance from the staff so that they can either reunite with their families at a later date or become capable of leading an independent life. Call 2416 8380 or visit www.ychss.org.hk for more information.
Teen volunteer: Yam Ting, a Form Four student at Precious Blood Secondary School, volunteered at one of Yan Chai's small group homes last year to help the children with their homework.
'My classmates and I went to the home to help with the children's homework. The child assigned to me was a Primary Six boy. I visited him once a week for about two months. Then we held a barbecue at our school for the children.
'I knew that most children lived in the home because of family problems, and the staff reminded to avoid asking the boy sensitive questions related to his family.
'So I asked him about his daily life instead. I tried to do so in a subtle manner, such as asking him about his school life when coming across a chapter in a textbook about making friends.
'I asked him how he made friends in school and how he differentiated between good and bad friends. He said he would sometimes play tricks on other classmates, and I asked him how he would feel if people did the same to him.
'Being of similar age, I didn't seem like his teacher, so I could instruct him casually while chatting with him like a friend.
'This was the first time I had come across children in small group homes. They were not as emotionally unstable or unhappy as I thought they would be. Some of them appeared to be quite bright.
'But, nevertheless, their family problems must have had an impact on them mentally and emotionally, especially the older children.
'Through being a volunteer, I realised that I am very lucky because there are many children who suffer from family problems.
'If I have the chance to help the boy again, I would spend more time talking with him rather than just assisting him with his homework. That way I could understand him better.' Lau Kit-wai