A 98-year-old veteran soldier who survived a deadly bombing during war was among 1,300 elderly people who took part in an eight-hour fast to help the mainland's "stateless children" of migrant workers yesterday.
Fung Siu-hoi, the oldest of the male participants, found the fast "a piece of cake" because he had gone without food for as long as 72 hours during the eight-year second Sino-Japanese war.
Fung has taken part in the annual fast, started by World Vision Hong Kong in 1989, for almost 20 years now. The eldest participant this year was centurion Chan Yuet-mei, who has participated in the fast for 13 years.
The average age of those who took part in the fast, which began at 8am, was 73.
Fung said that when war broke out in 1937, he was just 22 years old. He left his home in Hong Kong without telling his parents, and walked to Guangzhou to join the anti-Japanese movement.
He recalled once having nothing to eat for three days during the war. He also narrowly survived a Japanese military aircraft attack that killed his four other team members.
"I've lived through them all," said Fung, rolling up the left leg of his trousers to reveal a darkened scar from the attack. "Eight hours to me is a piece of cake."
After the war, Fung said, he returned penniless to Hong Kong, but failed to locate his family members. He went through several years of hardship before life took a turn for the better, after he became a tailor and eventually found his relatives.
Now, he has five children, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He has even tailored a pair of trousers for kung fu star Jackie Chan, Fung said with a touch of pride.
"I haven't had much education, so I hope the younger generations can all receive a better education [than I did]," he said. "I want to do my best to help."
Health minister Ko Wing-man, one of the guests at the event's opening ceremony, noted that Fung was still very healthy and did not need any assistance to walk. Ko attributed this to Fung's daily tai chi routine.
"The event shows our elderly are not only a group that needs to be cared for, but they can care for others as well," said Ko.
World Vision chief executive Kevin Chiu Wun-ming said this year's event - for people aged 50 and over - aimed to help migrant workers' children in Guangdong and Guangxi .
The goal was to raise HK$1.8 million to build a mainland project centre and improve facilities and education resources in charity schools for these children, he said.
The organisation also holds an annual 30-hour fast for younger people to raise funds.