A SIMPLE phone call or a morning spent in a teahouse could do wonders to cheer up a bored or lonely senior citizen living by himself, says a group of secondary school students. The students have just completed a very worthy summer project. After finishing their year-end exams, about 100 students from St Joseph's College, St Paul's Secondary School, St Clare's Girls' School and Wah Yan College (Hong Kong) joined forces to organise a series of activities for a group of elderly persons living in 'single elderly home units' in Chuk Yuen Estate. 'It's sad to see people who once did so much for the community now being forced to live alone,' said volunteer Karin Wong of St Paul's Secondary School. Most of the male senior citizens have been forced out of the family by their daughters-in-law, she said. 'Financially they are all right, with government welfare and an allowance from the family, but spiritually they need a lot more.' Clifford Tavares of St Joseph's College, who was in charge of the project, said there were often two sides to the problems the elderly face. 'On the one hand, they are often too closed up in their own worlds. They need to open up a bit and accept the way their families live and think. 'On the other hand, the families could do their share and pay the elderly a bit more attention.' Since July the students, accompanied by workers from Helping Hand, have visited the homes of around 150 senior citizens. After the visits, the elderly are treated to a tour of Sai Kung, the Gold Coast, and Yuen Yuen College. With the experience gained from their project, the students put up an exhibition in New Town Plaza, Sha Tin, describing how old people's lives can be enhanced in five aspects - financial, physical and mental health, human relationships, and accommodation. 'The five factors are actually interdependent,' said Clifford. 'For example, if the elderly don't have enough money to buy proper food, then their physical health suffers. 'When they are sick in body, their minds suffer, and this then affects their relationships with other people.'