PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 September, 2010, 12:00am

The rewarding life of a volunteer

It seems these days that many people only care about making more money, but not about others. I don't think it's an ideal world, so some friends and I started doing volunteer work on our holidays.

One of the most memorable experiences was selling raffle tickets for a children's charity. This gave me a chance to see that Hong Kong people can be very generous.

At first, many people wouldn't buy our tickets. But after we explained that the organisation we represented helped children with life-threatening diseases such as cancer, they gave generously.

Being a volunteer has helped me learn and grow. I have met people from all walks of life, and made many new friends along the way.

Cecilia Lam Wing Sze, True Light Girls' College

An extra burden on small shoulders

These days, students around the world feel the burden of their studies. In Hong Kong, we carry this weight on our shoulders literally: our schoolbags are far too heavy. Recent research shows 80 per cent of Hong Kong students' school bags are too heavy.

There have been many studies over the years that show children can develop back problems if their school bags are too heavy. It also affects their posture.

When I was in primary school, I had a very heavy schoolbag. To make things worse, I was short and weak. I was so tired lugging around my big and heavy bag, especially in summer.

Parents, schools and the government can do something to help. Parents can help their children carry really heavy schoolbags. Schools can provide lockers for students so they don't have to carry all their books every day.

Finally, the government should promote electronic books and computer-based learning at schools. I hope future generations will have a lighter burden on their shoulders.

Fung Kit-sheung

Trade is not good unless it's fair

The gap between the world's rich and poor is growing by the day. While people in rich countries enjoy far greater prosperity, do they ever consider the lives of people in developing countries?

A cup of coffee in Hong Kong costs about HK$30. How much of that money goes to the coffee shop chain stores, and how many other people get a share of that profit? For example, how much ends up in the pockets of workers who helped harvest, process and transport the coffee?

Fair Trade is an organised social movement that emphasises getting a better deal for the people who help produce the coffee, not just the people who sell it, to help them move towards economic self-sufficiency.

For centuries, huge profits have been made off the sweat of these workers. It's time for us to reconsider the relationship between value and price.

Can we really be satisfied when only a small number of people, often the richest, make a decent profit in the process? I don't think so. Many poor workers around the world have been exploited by big corporations. We should not enjoy their products as luxuries.

The best-run organisations do business with a sense of responsibility to society.

As consumers, we can help get a better deal for developing countries by supporting fair-trade products.

Mak Kwan-yin, Christian Alliance S.C. Chan Memorial College

'Garden' a haven for marine life

Apart from the development of Tai Long Wan, a developer from Japan bought some land in Hoi Ha Wan, known for its precious natural environment, to build luxury residential units.

I used to go to Hoi Ha Wan every summer to enjoy the beautiful scenery. It's 'my garden'. The corals and mangroves are the most amazing I've seen. There is no reason for us to destroy such a beautiful 'garden'.

Hoi Ha Wan provides a great habitat for all kinds of marine creatures. Building houses there will only upset the ecosystem.

I hope the government will protect these natural environments by passing laws to restrict development near marine parks. Even if it's profitable to build houses in these places, it should not be allowed. It is of utmost importance to protect such areas.

Luk Wing-shan, YWCA Hioe Tjo Yoeng College