YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College
The sound of African drums filled the air as the Watoto Children's Choir sang and danced in the school hall of YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College (YHKCC). The choir members wore colourful costumes and radiant smiles. Throughout the Concert of Hope, YHKCC students experienced the energy, enthusiasm and sense of joy that these lovely Ugandan orphans wanted to share.
'Watoto' means 'children' in Swahili. Established in 1994, the Watoto Children's Choir has toured around the world, sending a message of hope through a soulful blend of African rhythms, contemporary gospel and ethnic dance. On February 22, the choir came to YHKCC and staged a special performance for students during afternoon assembly. The choir comprises about 25 children between the ages of eight and 13. They have experienced a lot of hardship in their young lives - the loss of parents, the lack of basic necessities, and the suffering caused by Aids in their country.
The concert was packed with energy, vibrant dance routines, and uplifting African music which thrilled our students and teachers. Some YHKCC students were excited to be invited on stage to share the music and dance with the members of the choir. They clapped and danced along with the visitors.
'They are wonderful,' said a Form Five student after watching the performance. 'I think African music is so joyous. Probably everybody leaving here just feels joy in their heart, and is full of love. It was also a powerful reminder for me to find hope even in times of hardship and difficulty.'
Some YHKCC students helped out on Watoto's fair trade counter by selling items such as CDs, T-shirts, accessories and handicrafts made by women in Africa.
There was also a dress casual day to give an opportunity for all students to help support the children in Uganda. Each participant of the event was asked to donate a minimum of HK$10. Some senior students also made cr?pe paper flowers to support the choir. The entire school community showed their enthusiasm and expressed their love.
'This has been a very exciting moment for us,' said Dion Chen, acting principal of YHKCC. 'The important thing is that these children are from different and difficult backgrounds. So for them to be cared for is something we believe we are able to give. It is also our privilege to be part of this experience, and to help them in becoming part of the new leadership required in their country in whatever field they aspire to. It is an amazing experience for them, and for every one of us.'
The choir also performed an enthusiastic 90-minute show in the school hall at 7.30pm. It attracted an audience of more than 800, including parents and their friends, primary school students from Tung Chung and families from the area.
With generous support from all, the casual dress day and cr?pe paper flowers raised some HK$25,000, and all proceeds will go to the Watoto Childcare Ministries.
Yu Chun Keung Memorial College
March 1 was Life-Wide Learning Day for Yu Chun Keung Memorial College. All Form Two students took part in community service projects in Peng Chau. They visited the elderly, raised health awareness and cleaned up a heritage school.
The event gave students a chance to serve others, and understand and experience the lifestyle of Peng Chau residents.
Students took a ferry to Peng Chau in the morning. When they arrived, they received a warm welcome from residents. The students were divided into three groups. The first group spent the afternoon with elderly people living alone.
The second group helped preserve the historical Chi Yan School, which is abandoned. Working with their teachers, they picked up all of the rubbish.
The third group was responsible for helping the elderly get health tests, such as measuring blood pressure.
Afterwards, students enjoyed their free time and had lunch in a restaurant. They also tried various snacks and explored the island to prepare for the highlight of the day: a checkpoint game.
Students were divided into groups of eight. Starting at the basketball court along the seaside, they had to visit various attractions on a list, such as the old Shing Lei lime kiln and an old match factory. They were allowed to ask residents for historical information or for directions if they lost their way.
In the end, all groups completed their tasks skilfully.
They learned to co-operate with one another and solve problems by themselves.
Hong Kong International School
Students from Hong Kong International School rolled up their sleeves to do community service in Thailand last week.
The school has made the trip to help the Father Ray Foundation in the resort town of Pattaya for more than 20 years.
Each year HKIS students spend one week volunteering their time to help improve the lives of disadvantaged children there.
This year, from March 3-9, more than 20 HKIS students gave up their half-term holidays to help youngsters at the Father Ray Children's Village. The foundation provides care, housing and education to 850 abandoned, orphaned and neglected children, some of whom are disabled.
The HKIS students taught the children how to swim, hosted English conversation classes and worked on the Father Ray Foundation farm. They also received visual awareness training.
Six of the orphans live in Marigold House, which was built thanks to funds raised by HKIS students in 2010. The students also raised enough money to furnish the home and pay for costs to run the place.
The foundation is named after its founder, the late Father Ray Brennan. He was an American who gave a home to many orphans in Thailand. He died in 2003. Today, the foundation has a school for blind children, a vocational school for people with disabilities, a day-care centre for poor children and facilities for children with special needs.
Residential projects include a children's home, children's village and a drop-in centre for street kids.