Clown doctor has children in stitches
With a huge syringe in one hand, Lee Mei-chun goes into the children's ward. The children call her 'Dr Bibi', and when she pushes the syringe into them they laugh rather than scream.
Lee, a full-time entertainer, is one of the five clown doctors with the Theodora Foundation in Hong Kong.
She visits the Duchess of Kent Children's Hospital every Monday and the Queen Mary Hospital every Wednesday. The city is the only one in Asia where the foundation, based in Switzerland, has a centre. Dressed in a long white coat, Lee also carries balloons, presents and magic kits.
'The children are always facing white walls in hospitals. They have few chances to go outside and we're there to bring colours to them,' said Lee, a clown doctor for 13 years.
Lee said clown doctors perform magic and try to keep up children's spirits when they receive injections or give blood. 'So we're partners with medical doctors,' she said.
'We would look out of place if we simply dressed up like clowns. But with a doctor's outfit, the children know that while we look similar, the clown doctor is going to bring more fun to them.'
Some children tell them secrets. She also sometimes has to tell them to behave better in front of their parents when grumpy. 'We won't tell the parents their secrets. Integrity is important. But at the same time, we act as a bridge between the parents, who are under a lot of pressure, and the kids, who become irritated due to the long stay at hospital.'
The foundation serves about 9,000 children in the city a year, but Lee remembers some more than most. One was a girl who was hospitalised soon after birth. She was discharged when she was nine.
'I asked her what she wanted to do most upon being discharged. She said all she wanted to do was to eat with her mum, and then the mother started crying,' Lee said.
It turned out the girl had never dined with her mother. Lee said: 'While we always refuse to eat at home when our parents want us to, it's so important for the little girl just to eat with her mum. I have learnt a lot from the children.'