Project Space, with help from Operation Santa Claus, helps poor Hongkongers in inadequate housing
- Home repair team, with two full-time workers and eight volunteers, plans to help up to 120 low-income families in a year
Peng Lanxiang thought her rickety shack in a remote village in Sheung Shui’s Tsiu Keng was unlikely to stand up to Typhoon Mangkhut, so she took shelter in a relative’s flat well before the storm hit Hong Kong in mid-September.
When the 60-year-old returned home, she found her rooms, made of tin plates and wood, had been severely damaged by the strong wind and floods.
Despite its bad condition, Peng said she never thought about abandoning the shack, which she had rented from her friend for nearly seven years.
“I enjoy living in a rural area. I can make money growing vegetables and potatoes on the farmland surrounding the village,” she said.
The tenant farmer, who moved to Hong Kong from the mainland Chinese city of Dongguan and lives alone, was grateful that fellow villagers fixed her cabin’s displaced roof sheets at reduced rates.
She also appreciated the charity Project Space’s help with cleaning up her home, whose total floor area is estimated to exceed 1,000 sq ft.
Frank Yau Ka-lok, director of Project Space, said volunteers from the organisation had come to Peng’s aid a few days after she asked for help.
“The water-damaged wiring in her rooms posed immediate dangers. We had to come to replace it as soon as possible,” he said.
The volunteer said Peng had joined a growing number of people and families benefiting from the organisation’s Home Improvement Project, aimed at tackling health and safety issues facing people in inadequate housing.
He said his team had visited residents in small subdivided flats, public housing units and squatter huts across the city, helping the needy repair and replace broken household appliances.
The volunteers also provide pest control and space-saving reorganisation services.
The project, which has been running since 2011, will receive funding from Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity drive jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and the government broadcaster RTHK.
Yau said Project Space planned to help out 80 to 120 low-income families this year with the funding.
“The demand is huge. We receive 10 to 15 requests per month on average,” he said.
Project Space’s home repair team has two full-time employees and eight volunteers, including skilled renovation workers.
“We may be unable to help many people, with limited manpower, but we have been trying to help the underprivileged families in different ways,” Yau said, adding that tutoring and drawing classes were provided for children from these households to enrich their studies.
He said he was delighted their work was appreciated by many in the community.
“There was a donor who gave in total about HK$60,000 to a family being helped by us to express his support after reading a news report on our service,” he said.