The effect of Aids on the mainland
I am writing to express my opinion on the growing problem of Aids-affected children on the mainland.
The problem is more serious than we imagine. According to surveys conducted by the government, 76,000 children have lost their parents due to Aids-related illnesses. It is estimated that the number will increase to 260,000 in 2010.
Due to extreme poverty, many people sell their blood to earn money. This is a major source of Aids infection on the mainland.
Aids-related deaths leave many children orphaned and without financial support. Even though they strive to lead better lives, it is very hard.
Most of us probably ignore their plight. But it should be a major concern for all of us.
I think more Aids charities should be set up to help families affected by the deadly disease. They could provide living expenses and money for education, and work with the children to restore their confidence.
The organisations can also build facilities like libraries to help students with their studies. The mainland government should supervise charity organisations to make sure donations go to those who need them.
Being affected by Aids in any respect should not be a barrier to a successful life. If we work to help Aids orphans, they, too, can have a full life.
Stephanie Chau, Methodist College
Take better care of the elderly
A lot of elderly people take paper boxes, newspapers and cans from recycling bins so as to earn some money. There are a lot of poor elderly people in Hong Kong: recent reports show that 30 per cent of them live below the poverty line.
There is also an increasing proportion of elderly people receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance from the government. And reports of physical and psychological abuse of old people by family members are rising.
I have some ideas as to how we could all take better care of the elderly.
First of all, we should express our affection for elderly friends and relatives. Those who live alone in particular often feel lonely and abandoned, and a burden on society. We must take the time to prove to them that we care. Old people may suffer from various sicknesses. Treatment and medication can be very costly, so the government should ensure they receive free medical attention and medicine.
The government should also provide more facilities, such as parks and social centres, for the elderly so that they have somewhere to meet their friends and occupy their time.
Perhaps most importantly, we should all remember the important contributions these people made to Hong Kong when they were younger. They don't deserve to be neglected.
Louisa Lo, SKH Li Fook Hing Secondary School
Let children work for what they want
As parents choose to have fewer children, they tend to spend more money on them and let them have whatever they want.
While it is good to see that parents love their children, I think spoiling them ruins their future.
To begin with, being spoilt gives youngsters a misconception of values. They will believe they are entitled to anything they want, and if they nag, they will get it.
But real life is not like this. We have to work hard to attain the things we want. If children are always given whatever they wanted, adult life will be a struggle.
What's more, excessive parental care means children will have limited problem-solving capabilities. If their parents work out all their difficulties, they won't know what to do once they leave home and encounter dilemmas.
Older generations had to save up to buy treats, which meant they valued them more. They used their imagination to create games without complex toys and became adults who could face problems and fix them.
If we want to follow in their footsteps, we mustn't let our parents spoil us. Work for what you want and you'll appreciate life's gifts more.
Hercules Tang Tsun-hang
Have you ever tried barefoot walking around school? I think many people would have wanted to try this. Last month, our school organised a barefoot activity.
We had to follow a route planned by the teachers around the school. It was quite an exciting activity.
Afterwards, our teacher told us that many children in Africa don't have shoes.
Even if they are lucky enough to go to school, they have to walk there barefoot. This made me realise I should cherish everything I have.
Kong Wan, Leung Shek Chee College
The best time of life
If you could stay the same age forever, what age would you choose? If I could choose, I'd say teenager without any hesitation.
Babies have nothing to do all day. They just sleep and eat. Being a child is better, but children have little freedom. Their parents control what they can and cannot do.
Adults have many worries, from financial problems to relationship issues. They can't always enjoy life to the fullest under such pressure.
Retired people may have a lot of spare time, but may lack energy. Our teenage years are the most energetic, inspiring time of our lives. We are healthy and daring, and able to try exciting things. We are still supported financially and emotionally by our parents, but not controlled by them.
But we all get to experience each stage of life just once. So I know I must enjoy my teens, but I'm going to work hard to make adult life as much fun!