Share and enjoy your blessings
Jackie Ng, project director of Share, a month-old non-governmental organisation (NGO), is infatuated with her job, for lack of a better term. The work of her NGO is mainly to provide internships for teenagers who come from disadvantaged areas in Hong Kong, such as Tin Shui Wai, in west Kowloon.
'As we all know, Tin Shui Wai is described as a 'pathetic' [part of] Hong Kong. Owing to its isolated location [and socio-economic standing], teenagers who live there may not have the opportunities of those living in wealthier places. My partners and I set up an NGO to help these teenagers. That's how Share started,' Ng says.
Share functions as a bridge between secondary school students from districts such as Tin Shui Wai, Yuen Long, Tai Po and Sham Shui Po, and some of Hong Kong's most renowned corporations, arranging summer internships there for them.
During their internships, students receive a HK$100 travelling and lunch stipend each day, and a British-chain store in Hong Kong sponsors the students' business attire.
'Setting up the internship programme not only gives students a chance to work at large companies, it makes them aware that they have the same opportunity as others. They are not excluded,' Ng says.
She adds that as a result of their districts of origin, these students are generally lacking in confidence and consider themselves not as good as their peers from other districts. Some dare not even speak. The programme helps to boost their self-confidence, encouraging a 'can-do' attitude, and giving them the practical opportunity to broaden their horizons.
The internship programme kicked off just as Share was being set up and can be credited with placing 30 students in internship positions across 10 corporations in Hong Kong to date. Ng has been pleased with the positive feedback from the recipient organisations. 'The corporations have praised the students for their attitude, and have welcomed them back to work as interns next summer. Some of the firms will recruit students as full-time employees after they graduate from school.'
These responses have encouraged Ng to work with additional companies, which in turn will allow more students to take up internships. 'We hope to help double the number of students next summer,' she says.
Ng's background is actually as a solicitor. After obtaining double degrees in commerce and an LLB from the University of Queensland, she practised as a solicitor in Hong Kong for more than a decade. Ng doesn't feel she's sacrificed anything by making the switch from being a legal eagle to a charity organiser, although she concedes that she makes less money than she did previously. '[Share] is not for the sake of money. It is for helping those in need,' she stresses.
Unlike the 'crazy' hours she clocked in as a solicitor, Ng says her working hours are much more reasonable now. 'I am free at night and at the weekend, which is really good,' she says, adding that she is pleased to have more time to herself to meet with friends and family, and to run.
The exercise-lover is also a foodie, who credits her chef boyfriend with her passion for good food. But today, their priority lies elsewhere. 'We are busy decorating our new house. And after this is done, we would like to enjoy some spare time,' she says.