Operation Santa Claus

Cookery lessons help heal victims of domestic violence

Christian group helps victims of domestic violence relieve mental stress and rediscover hunger for life through therapy in the kitchen

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 3:30am

These women have certainly tasted bitterness in their lives - but now, through cooking, they are learning to experience some finer flavours.

All the women are victims of domestic violence, living at the Christian Family Service Centre's women's shelter. They are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives by spending time away from their abusers - in most cases, their husbands.

Cooking therapy sessions are the centre's way to help them relieve their mental and emotional pressures, and encourage them to talk about their feelings.

"Most of us arrived at the shelter with heavy hearts. It's only in these activities that you hear such cheerful noises," said participant Maggie Yiu, during one of the sessions with five other women from the shelter and a social worker. They were making osmanthus pudding.

"Last time we mixed different juices. We unravelled our emotions with the different flavours we tasted," said the 42-year-old, who has faced psychological abuse from her ex-husband.

She moved into the shelter with her two children and elderly mother five months ago, after a police referral.

"I'm the optimistic type," she said. "I believe good days will come with perseverance."

Operation Santa Claus, jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, is raising funds for the centre's Cook With Hope programme.

The funding will benefit about 100 more women in group cooking and sharing sessions. More than half of the women staying at the shelter are recent immigrants, who had little support in trying to deal with domestic abuse, said Edna Yeung Oi-shan, the shelter's senior service manager.

"Some of them are facing depression and are slow in their senses. We hope to stimulate them with the food they cook and boost their confidence, too," she said.

The sessions give participants not only the chance to learn culinary skills, but also to build relationships with others who have faced similar situations.

"Through food, they can show their care for their family members. Some of them may choose a divorce in the end and it's important for them to rebuild their relationships with their children."


  • Donate at an ATM or at any HSBC branch (account no: 502-676299-001 for SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus)
  • You can donate with a cheque payable to "SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus" and mail it to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories,
  • Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt, with your name, address and phone number, to the above address. Please call 2680 8159 or e-mail osc@scmp.com with any inquiries, or visit us online at osc.scmp.com