Youngsters jump to aid of typhoon victims
More than HK$1 million has been raised by 21 schools in Hong Kong to help people in the Philippines affected by last month's Typhoon Haiyan.
Pupils and their families at schools under the English Schools Foundation (ESF) have been organising and participating in various fundraising events since the storm wreaked havoc and left more than 5,700 dead.
Pupils have also been collecting items which could be needed in disaster-hit areas, such as kitchen equipment and hygiene kits, and one group even flew to an affected area to offer help.
At Discovery College, 13 pupils visited Bacolod in the central-western Philippines. Tacloban, the city hit hardest by the storm, lies about 230 kilometres to the east.
The youngsters set off late last month and stayed five days, while another five students stayed at school in Hong Kong organising fundraising events.
Abbie Humphreys, whose mother comes from the Philippines, joined the relief trip. The Year 11 student taught children at a kindergarten in a rural area on her first day in Bacolod.
The next day she helped local women make souvenirs which they sell to tourists to earn money. She also took part in lessons about the importance of hygiene and put together 50 relief packs for people in need.
She was touched that many people she met, despite losing all their possessions, still offered her food. "I left Hong Kong expecting the worst," she said. "But when I got there, I didn't really pity them as much as I respected them for keeping on going."
Matthew Macpherson, a Year 10 pupil and one of the fundraising event organisers, said his school raised almost HK$80,000 in three days. The pupils also put together 50 boxes of relief supplies. "We, as privileged children with access to the local community, have the advantage to help people there," he said.
Meanwhile, Kennedy School raised HK$328,000 in one day, a record among the ESF schools. Donations have been passed on to several relief organisations, including the Hong Kong Red Cross and the Hong Kong Medical Mission to the Philippines.
As of last week, the government had approved more than HK$12 million in aid for the Philippines through its Disaster Relief Fund.
The central government, initially criticised over its original pledge to send US$100,000, later promised another US$1.4 million in relief supplies.