Elderly go hungry to aid homeless children

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 3:41am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 3:41am

Some of Hong Kong's oldest and poorest once again proved age is no barrier when it comes to helping those whose needs are greater than their own.

About 1,400 elderly people - some over 100 years old and many in their nineties - yesterday went without food for eight hours to raise funds to provide food, education, clothes and shelter for street children in Kunming , Yunnan province.

The event has raised more than HK$32 million since 1990.

It was the 25th year that the Eight-Hour Elderly Famine has been held, and was jointly organised by World Vision Hong Kong, Baptist Hospital Au Shue Hung Health Centre and RTHK Radio 5. "Having 24 years of experience, I can be sure the elderly participants are more than capable of enduring [eight hours without eating]," said Kevin Chiu Wun-ming, chief executive officer of World Vision Hong Kong.

Yeung Yuk-kuen, 97, said: "I am used to being poor, so if I am able to help others then I will.

"During the Japanese occupation, I had to carry my eldest son while moving bags of soil all night, just to earn so little … After the occupation, I raised eight children by working as a hawker, selling congee."

She said her own poverty was the motivating force behind her decision to take part in the fast. She also sponsors two children on the mainland.

Law Wai-fong, also 97, has taken part in the fast for over 20 years. "Helping people is one of the most important virtues a person can have," Law said. "If I saw a person collapse on the street, I would take him to hospital without a moment's hesitation."

Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, said those taking part "have shown us that the elderly are capable of helping the needy with love and passion".

Cheung also announced plans to invest HK$50 million to increase the number of Elder Academies from 108 to 120. They offer wide-ranging courses for the city's elderly to pursue lifelong learning.

Yesterday's event took place at three venues, covering Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.