[SCMP Archive] Giving back to those in need
[First published on May 26, 2005] Andrew Chan Kwanto, 18, a student at the Hong Kong International School, finds happiness in helping mainland children have nicer smiles.
We are selling rice dumplings at seven shopping malls during weekends and public holidays to raise money for mainland children who have cleft lips or palates. The money we raise will go towards Operation Smile. The campaign will last until June 5. I would like to visit the children who benefit from our campaign, to chat with them and see how else I can help them.
I came up with the idea of selling rice dumplings to raise money for the children as the Dragon Boat Festival approaches. Instead of buying dumplings from local brandname restaurants, why couldn't people buy some for charity? So I got down to it and contacted Operation Smile and submitted a proposal to a property company to do the fundraiser.
My parents give me a lot of support and guidance in my voluntary work. They too are very keen volunteers. My father sometimes does free dental work for poor mainland children. He has even held buffet lunch parties at his office for the children. They think I am doing something right and tell me to carry on with my voluntary work and contributions to society.
I started doing voluntary work when I was a little kid. In kindergarten, I volunteered to sing and dance in our graduation ceremony. I have also tried doing volunteer work at a new migrant children's home, where I tutored and befriended the children. I find it very meaningful and satisfying when I help others. This is how I got into volunteering, and I have become very committed to it.
When I was in the US, I helped local innercity children with their homework and served dinner to homeless people at a soup kitchen. I went to the mainland with World Vision on a trip to help local people with dental problems in 2002. I also helped World Vision to teach students English through playing games and friendly interaction on the mainland last summer. I sang for the elderly and to disabled mainland children.
I participated in a fundraiser selling teddy bears to support the construction of a sensory garden at Haven of Hope Sunnyside School in Tseung Kwan O.
I am a Christian. I think Christianity in China remains largely underappreciated and misunderstood. They need funds to build churches and carry out missionary work. I would like to offer my support to missionaries in China. I think voluntary work in China should also provide mental and spiritual relief to people, instead of only giving people physical assistance. In the future, I would like to do more missionarybased voluntary work in China.
I will try to come up with other major fundraising campaigns later, probably for other organisations. Hong Kong students are very passionate about their voluntary work and know the importance of volunteering. They realise that volunteering is just as important as academic excellence.
Schools should initiate some programmes to give students experience in charity work. For example, my school has a wonderful programme called SOS, Service on Saturdays, in which students spend from 10am to noon on Saturday during the school year doing community service around Hong Kong. Maybe the government or the private sector could organise more charity events and involve their employees in these events on a larger scale.
I think working adults in particular should be helping more. Even though they lead very busy lives, the spiritual benefits of their efforts will outweigh the time they spend doing the charity work. I think Hong Kong has impressed the world with its effort and donations for tsunami relief. Hong Kong people demonstrated a lot of unity during the Sars epidemic.
Despite my passion for doing volunteer work, I want to work in the airline industry I am just fascinated by planes and the excitement of flying to broaden my horizons.
I will definitely work parttime for NGOs, which is important to my growth and offers me a chance to continue contributing what I can to society."