Spirit of Hong Kong

Trouble expressing how you really feel? Elderly Hongkongers get it on video with Caritas team

Ng Kwok-hung, 78, captures the city’s elderly speaking their mind, with the hope of recording warm words for their loved ones

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 10:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 10:01am

Ng Kwok-hung, 78, has turned video making into more than just a pleasant retirement pastime.

He is putting his skills to use helping elderly people express their final wishes to their loved ones.

The retiree and his team, in collaboration with the Caritas Support Network for Third Age Services, have videoed more than 50 Hongkongers since 2016.

“I started learning videography and computer studies when I was 60,” Ng said.

The amateur videographer ran a transport business before retiring at 67.

As he learned more, what began as a hobby subsequently turned into volunteering.

Ng said his team – all volunteers aged above 60 – wanted to help their contemporaries express their feelings while they were still able.

“Not many elders are able to tell their family face to face what they really want, as they are near the end of their life,” Ng said.

“When their condition suddenly becomes acute soon before death, some just don’t have the time to utter their last words. Or some may not know how to put feelings into words in front of their children.”

The video team spends time capturing their subjects speaking their mind, with the hope of recording warm words.

They sometimes work with a social worker to coach the aged speaker before shooting.

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“We will go through all the lines, edit them and combine the clips to form a sequence that carries the intended message,” Ng said.

The video messages vary in content.

“There was an old lady living in a nursing home who was telling her son to come see her more often,” Ng said.

Some just don’t have the time to utter their last words
Ng Kwok-hung, 78

Another aged mother advised her son not to visit her so often, as she knew he had a family to support.

Ng has been nominated by Caritas Hong Kong for the South China Morning Post’s Spirit of Hong Kong Awards. The multi-service organisation put forward his name in the Compassion Ambassador category, which honours people who serve and help others passionately.

“We are not professional videographers,” Ng said of his team. “We learned video shooting and editing by ourselves.”

But age is never a barrier to learning new things, he said.

He recruited retirees to his team because he wanted to make his peers feel they were still useful and could give back to the community.

“But they must have a healthy and strong body,” he said.

The Caritas Support Network, which provides wide-ranging services such as social work, education and medical care, says the “third age” in its title refers to retirees pursuing their aspirations after a lifetime of hard work.

The group of 10 also films events and short documentaries featuring elderly residents.

“We have three or four shooting jobs per month on average. We sometimes need to stand all day,” he said. “It takes a lot of stamina.”