A drama portraying the misery and stigma associated with being poor as the economy slumps was a thought-provoking lesson for a group of primary and secondary students. The play, performed at Grantham College of Education Past Students' Association Whampoa Primary School last Saturday, was part of a series of activities by St Joseph's College to broaden the life experience of their students. Twenty of the college's students had taken an eight-session drama course organised by Freehearted Factory, a non-profit group dedicated to designing educational activities for local schools. The programme was aimed at helping students better grasp the complexities of social problems through drama. The play, Solicitude and Cherish, revolved around the dilemma of a teenage boy whose father was forced to leave Hong Kong because of mounting debts incurred amid the financial crisis. The 10-minute play was interspersed with expository sessions where such social problems as poverty and the yawning rich-poor gap were explained to the audience. Form Two student Chu Kiu-ming said the programme allowed him to understand the difficulties students from low-income families faced. 'As I come from a family of moderate means, I don't have much chance to witness poverty from my social circle,' he said. 'I only occasionally see some of the problems poor students face on TV. I now see that poverty causes a lot of problems like discrimination in schools, parental unemployment and withdrawal from social life because of too little money to join extra-curricular activities.' Freehearted Factory's executive director, Janet Yau Yat-yuen, said the drama helped shed light on social problems. 'As the students understood more about the difficulties the underprivileged faced, they learned to put themselves in their shoes and be sympathetic to their plight.'