Operation Santa Claus

Hong Kong college graduate gets a truly valuable lesson at summer camp for ‘leftover’ kids

Volunteer Pang Ming-lun served as both teacher and playmate to neglected youngsters in rural China

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 2016, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 2016, 8:23pm

Children from rural villages in mainland China were thrilled to have Hong Kong college graduate Pang Ming-lun around as both a teacher and a playmate when schools were closed.

He was one of the many Hongkongers who volunteered through the Yes We Do Summer Camp in 2016. Pang experienced at first-hand just how desperate are the “leftover” children of rural China – raised by elderly grandparents while their parents work in cities – for care and company.

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The Yes We Do Foundation has been organising annual summer camps since 2010, empowering hundreds of local and overseas college-educated youngsters to teach summer classes to children in underdeveloped areas of China.

The foundation is now looking to continue its programme in 2017, with a donation of HK$900,000 from Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity campaign jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

Last year the programme sent over 50 volunteers to teach summer classes in nine schools in Hebei, Anhui, Chongqing, Sichuan and Shanxi. More than 400 students benefitted.

Pang, a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate who signed up two years ago, said the programme not only brought joy to the children but also encouraged Hong Kong youth to become more caring.

Those children just simply wanted to play with us and learn from us
Pang Ming-lun

He said his experience at the summer camp taught him the importance of nourishment in one’s education and made him feel grateful for the childhood he had enjoyed.

“In these rural villages, when schools are closed in the summer due to the shortage of teachers, children are just left at home and neglected by the adults.”

He said the summer camp really made a difference in how leftover children spent their summer. “The children were so eager to play with us that they stayed at the school even after sundown.”

Chunya Geng, a director of the foundation, said the purpose of the programme was twofold – the children were given a good summer education while participants developed “a new perspective into understanding the value of education and family”.

“I think volunteers are really the beneficiaries of the programme,” he said, “It gives them a rare opportunity to learn about how showing a little bit of care can go a long way.”

Pang said he was moved by how much his company meant to others. “Those children just simply wanted to play with us and learn from us.”