In Hong Kong’s fight against poverty, small acts can have big effects
Paul Yip and Geoff Chan say poverty is a complex social issue with no easy or immediate solution, but it is heart-warming that government efforts to alleviate the problem are being matched by altruistic moves from individuals and the community
The latest census data shows income levels have improved markedly after the implementation of the minimum wage. But, as the lack of empathy and feeling of disconnectedness involve complex socio-economic, cultural, historical, familial and individual issues, a single or immediate solution is hard to find.
Residents of subdivided flats swelter through the summer
Redeployment of community resources to meet demand is indeed a win-win situation. It is true that with 14,400 households living in subdivided flats while waiting for public rental housing for more than three years, 1,000 may not seem too impressive. But it is something to be proud of.
Housing is a huge problem in Hong Kong and there is no silver bullet. However, every small deed will have a large impact if society responds to it enthusiastically.
The Hong Kong Church Network for the Poor has also been putting their faith into practice, exploring the most effective ways to help solve social problems. There are more than 450,000 followers with around 1,300 churches or church groups of various sizes. There are so many heart-warming stories about how they empowered their own congregation to rise up and transform their sphere of influence in business, the government, at NGOs, in academia, and so on. They have turned the church into a group of transformers, not just a building and organisation. They are hidden treasures to be deployed for reconnecting the community.
Let’s remain hopeful. Hong Kong is still full of many wonderful people and altruistic behaviour is not that uncommon. We might not be able to do the big things, but that should not stop us from kind action, no matter how seemingly insignificant the impact.
We have seen many bottom-up and community-driven strategies to improve the well-being of our neighbourhoods. Everyone can contribute in their own way: each effort counts. We can rebuild a connected community with empathy and care. It is the small actions in the community that can together create the big wave that will bring about change.
Paul Yip is chair professor of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong, where Geoff Chan is a post-doctoral fellow