City Weekend

Lamma Fun Day reaches 16th year as island’s ‘raw’ community spirit continues to flourish

Annual music festival is staffed by volunteers to raise money for education projects in Nepal

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 October, 2016, 10:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 October, 2016, 10:01am

“It is kind of raw; Lamma has an organic community who really think they should go the extra mile to make it a better place,” says Zein Williams, chief executive of the Child Welfare Scheme and chief organiser of the island’s 16th annual fun day, organised in aid of schools in Nepal.

“The [islanders] are really laid back and the value of community is important to them,” she says.

Community spirit, not always considered prevalent in Hong Kong, has been hailed as the glue which holds together Lamma’s popular music festival.

More than 60 musicians, including several teenage bands, will perform at the event on Tai Wan To Beach and Power Station Road near Yung Shue Wan on November 12.

An auction where bidders can vie for a range of items including luxury hotel stays, restaurant vouchers and art work, usually proves a key fundraising element, racking up HK$80,000 alone last year, organisers say. They hope to top HK$300,000 this year. A total of HK$2.2 million has been raised for Child Welfare Scheme projects since the festival was launched in 2000.

Avi Rai, project coordinator for the Child Welfare Scheme, says Lamma is so well connected that residents feel more inclined to help those less fortunate than themselves.

“It is a strong community; they are a group of people who really want to do this,” he says. “The community is so secure that they want to give back.”

Jo Wilson, founder of ecological campaign group Living Lamma, which will organise an early morning beach clean-up the day after the festival, agrees that the island’s neighbourly spirit is infectious.

“To make it work, people not only have to have an idea but actually take the time to do it,” she says. “That’s not easy in Hong Kong, but I think on Lamma when people see others putting in the effort, they want to help. [This event] is for a great cause and it really reflects the wonderful community we have here.”

The festival’s music coordinator Dave Wilkinson says the set list alone is sure to create “an epic day out”.

“Our cracking line-up features some of the best music Hong Kong has to offer – from rockabilly to heavy metal and folk to electronica, with lashings of rock in between,” he says.

Scores of festival volunteers will also come together to offer arts, crafts, yoga workshops, beach volleyball, bric-a-brac stalls and food.

There will even be an 8km fun run from the event site to the wind turbine and over the hills to Sok Kwu Wan before looping back to Tai Wan To Beach, the organisers say.

Money raised from the event will go towards a four-year project focused on transforming 48 schools in villages near Pokhara in central Nepal, after former Lamma resident Andrew Doig visited the country and was impressed by Child Welfare Scheme work there. Parts of Nepal are still in significant need of rebuilding after an earthquake last year left almost 9,000 people dead and 22,000 injured. Unicef estimated about 24,000 classrooms were damaged or destroyed in the 7.8 magnitude quake, putting the education of one million children at risk.

Williams says the country’s schools are also severely underresourced and teaching quality needs to be improved.

“The government said they wanted everyone to go to school, but they did not think about how it would work,” she says.

“We reach out to communities to involve parents and promote education, which increases the chances of children attending and staying in schools. Education is also vital to support our anti-human-trafficking work and to make children aware of their rights.”