Project to get Hong Kong and mainland China universities behind village-aid drive

Professor hopes to pool resources of HK and mainland universities to aid needy communities

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 September, 2013, 4:54am

A new initiative is seeking to improve the lives of the poor and needy in isolated villages by pooling the resources of universities in Hong Kong and the mainland.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong's "One University - One Village" (1U1V) project plans to get universities nationwide to work with the villages to help improve their situations in any way they can using the universities' know-how.

Professor Edward Ng Yan-yung, an architect and professor of architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is the driving force behind the venture, which aims to help villages in a multidimensional way - not just by improving their infrastructure, but by helping them also to develop on an economic, social, ecological and environmental level.

"I'm absolutely certain that a university like Chinese University, with 10,000 people, can help a village of 1,000 people," Ng said.

"With the expertise, knowledge and student resources available, I cannot see why this can't be done.

"We will send staff and students there - whoever has the ability to help them. It just needs some organisation."

Ng, 52, is refining the guidelines and getting all the paperwork together for the project so that he can present it to the State Council in December.

"If the State Council agrees in principle with what we are proposing, then we can begin a pilot study and get the wheels in motion," he said.

He is hoping that it will start with five universities working with five villages.

Mainland universities would also be part of the process, not just those in Hong Kong, with the Chinese University of Hong Kong acting as a clearing house for efforts to help assemble and organise different village projects.

"We have so many resources and so much knowledge," Ng said. "These people are forgotten, but we can make a difference. It's a very simple idea, but don't underestimate the importance of simple things."

The 1U1V initiative is the latest humanitarian project that Ng has been involved in after 11 years of similar efforts. In 2007 he set up the Wu Zhi Qiao (Bridge to China) Foundation.

Under its auspices, 28 Wu Zhi Qiao projects have been completed so far in Shaanxi , Sichuan , Gansu , Guizhou and Yunnan provinces.

The foundation has also launched post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Sichuan and Qinghai .

Up to now, the Wu Zhi Qiao projects alone have benefited more than 40,000 people in the country's rural areas.

For further information or donation details for the 1U1V project, e-mail 1u1v@cuhk.edu.hk or visit www.1u1v.org