Spirit of Hong Kong

Spirit of Hong Kong

Spirit of Hong Kong is a series that looks behind the scenes of one of Asia's largest and most vibrant cities by focusing on those whose contributions often go unnoticed yet are vital to the everyday success of Hong Kong. 

Hongkongers reach out across the border

Kan Yiu-kwong, the head of the Grace Charity Foundation. The group has also built hundreds of clinics on the mainland. Photo: Edward Wong

It was in 1994, when a telephone repairman working for Hong Kong Telecom heard about a flood in the Guangxi autonomous region. With his job he was able to take time off, so he contacted a few friends and a group of them decided that rather than just coming up with a donation, they would head to the mainland to give direct help. They raised more than HK$200,000 to buy some rice and clothing, plus hand out cash to villagers affected by the disaster.

Monday, 7 October, 2013, 6:15am

Teaching was always passion for Maryknoll nun

Sister Jeanne Houlihan. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Sister Jeanne Houlihan devoted 56 years to working as a teacher, supervisor and principal at Maryknoll Convent School, in Kowloon Tong, before retiring in 2011. But she was delighted last month to be back at the school, which was her home for more than half a century.

6 Oct 2013 - 4:52pm

Canine carer Sally Andersen to the rescue

Sally Andersen. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Most of Hong Kong’s visitors arrive by plane or train, but Briton Sally Andersen came by yacht after sailing from Taiwan with a friend.

6 Oct 2013 - 4:46pm

Wherever help is needed this worker will be there

Anne Marden saw poverty from a young age and has spent more than 50 years working hard to help those in need in Hong Kong. Photo: Felix Wong

The sufferings of the poor she saw in her youth inspired her to commit herself to a lifetime of helping the less fortunate, devoting herself to decades of aid work, particularly in education.

4 Oct 2013 - 3:18am

On track when it comes to living a dream

Of 290 tram drivers, Yiu Chau-leung is one of 30 women Photo: Dickson Lee

When Yiu Chau-leung was a little girl her father took her to Shanghai.

While most details of the trip have become blurred, one incident is still vivid in her mind.

The driver of a taxi they got into was a woman. “And I thought that was very cool,” laughs Yiu, “as women drivers were very rare at that time and I wanted to be one.”

4 Oct 2013 - 10:26am 2 comments

The ideas man with a heart of gold

Manfred Yuen, director of Groundwork Architecture and Urbanism Ltd on the roof of his office in Wyndham Street Photo: Annemarie Evans

Architect Manfred Yuen Man-to looks every bit the city slicker with his gelled quiff and clean-cut appearance. But despite his relative youth Yuen, 33, has a social awareness one would expect from an older person.

Yuen has an architectural firm, Groundwork.

3 Oct 2013 - 2:30pm

A picture of changing priorities

Laurence Lai felt unfulfilled by his garment business Photo: Laurence Lai

Before 2001, Laurence Lai had a successful garment business. So friends thought he was mad when he gave it up to open a photo booth on the Gold Coast in Tuen Mun.

“I started selling photos with cardboard frames,” Lai recalls. “I started mostly on weekends and public holidays. People liked my photos of Hong Kong scenery and street scenes.”

4 Oct 2013 - 1:38pm 1 comment

Ecologist promotes nature and its creatures

Dickson Wong Chi-chun. Photo: SCMP Pictures

There are some photographs pinned to the back of a stand which show a small slice of Hong Kong’s natural wildlife and habitat. These snapshots on display reveal some of environmental campaigner and educator Dickson Wong Chi-chun’s happiest childhood memories.

Wong, 37, is showing me the best pictures capturing the essence of the city’s true biodiversity.

2 Oct 2013 - 2:34pm

No wasters in Miss Lee’s class

Tom chi-yuen, Lo sze-chai, teacher Karen Lee Ka-wai and Se-to man-yee learning environmental awareness with their teacher at Good Counsel Catholic Primary School. Photo: SCMP Pictures

In recent months, a government-sponsored campaign has cropped up on bus shelters and billboards. On one poster, an alien-like creature tosses piles of food into the bin. “Don’t be a big waster. If you can’t finish your food, don’t waste it”, reads the slogan beneath.

2 Dec 2013 - 12:19pm 1 comment

Compassion knows no barriers

Reverend Will Newman. Photo: Annemarie Evans

Prisoners tend to be out of sight and out of mind to anyone other than perhaps their loved ones, which is why they often value the visits of those who care for their welfare within the community.

1 Oct 2013 - 8:41am 2 comments

Cycling crusader hopes to get city moving on two wheels

Martin Turner. Photo: SCMP Pictures

“Yes, yes,” says cyclist Martin Turner. “Cycling is good for the environment, yes, it’s often a faster mode of transport, so you can say all of these things of course, but why do I cycle? Because it’s fun!”

30 Sep 2013 - 10:16am 1 comment

Humble hero of Sars crisis: 'I was just doing my job'

Sergeant Ko Wing-cheung was one of the first officers who helped protect residents on the estate where Sars first emerged in Hong Kong a decade ago. Photo: Nora Tam

Despite all his training at police school, Sergeant Ko Wing-cheung could never have envisaged the epidemic that brought Hong Kong to a standstill in 2003. All eyes had been on the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, then suddenly the world's media turned its attention to Kowloon Bay - the epicentre of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak a decade ago.

2 Dec 2013 - 12:19pm 2 comments

Sutherland’s passion – to solve the problem of poverty

David Sutherland. Photo: SCMP Pictures

“I think people sometimes think that poverty is an intractable problem that cannot be solved. I completely disagree with that,” says David Sutherland. In January this year, Sutherland quit his role as Chief Financial Officer for Morgan Stanley to dedicate himself full-time to poverty alleviation work.

29 Sep 2013 - 4:08pm 1 comment

Guide runner helps blind and deaf athletes enjoy team spirit

Kate Cheung helps guide blind and deaf runners at Hammer Hill Sports Ground, Choi Hung. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Flood lights pour bright, hot rays on to the Hammer Hill Sports Ground in Choi Hung. The lush, green pitch is circled by a rust red athletic track. Eight lanes, delineated by freshly painted, white lines, mark the track for more than 100 hot, sweaty bodies running laps on a balmy September evening.

2 Dec 2013 - 12:19pm

Star Ferry captain serves harbour travellers for three decades

Chan Tsu-wing, coxswain of Star Ferry. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Every day the Star Ferry’s fleet of eight boats carry almost 60,000 people between Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Wanchai. The boats travel a daily average of 708km between 6.30am and 11.30pm. From staff training down to the smallest screw on deck, Chan Tsu-wing, the Star Ferry coxswain, is the man in charge.

30 Sep 2013 - 12:22pm 3 comments