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Operation Santa Claus

Hong Kong charity’s ‘Care Angels’ help children separated from their families form bonds

  • Po Leung Kuk’s attachment programme aims to foster healthy emotional development in its young residents
  • Carers help children develop relationships through individualised care and one-one-one interaction
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 10:04am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 10:03am

It is not his family home, but in this cosy corner set up specially for the little ones, Lung has enjoyed the kind of undivided attention and care usually given only by loving parents.

The five-year-old boy is one of many children who have benefited from Po Leung Kuk’s attachment programme, which aims to foster healthy emotional development in the youngsters staying at the charity.

Apart from providing for the residents’ basic needs, such as food, shelter and warmth, the “Care Angels” from the charity group also develop close relationships with the children through individualised care and one-on-one interaction.

In Lung’s case, the little boy spent quality time with a designated carer under the project, who gave him undivided attention during “cosy time” sessions.

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Carer Ho Po-yi read stories, played and chatted with Lung. The Care Angels team also celebrated the child’s birthday recently.

Service coordinator Phoebe Wut Pui-lin said the bond-building process enabled the children, who had been separated from their families for different reasons and lacked parental care, to develop trust in people.

Citing recent studies, she said more than 90 per cent of the young children under their care became more emotionally stable and felt more secure.

“We fill the gap left by parents’ inability to develop an attachment with their young children,” Wut said.

“Through our programme, we also hope to help the children build a secure attachment with their parents as they grow older,” she added

The project receives funding from investment bank Morgan Stanley through Operation Santa Claus, the annual donation drive jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and government broadcaster RTHK.

Debbie Wong Wai-kwan, who helps manage the scheme, said comprehensive care was provided for the children admitted to Po Leung Kuk’s 24-hour residential childcare services regardless of their backgrounds or abilities.

The charity also puts a lot of work into the older children’s education.

Its “Joy To Learn” programme under the Care Angels project has helped resident children suspended from school to continue their studies.

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Supervisor Grace Tsang Pai-mun said educational activities, as opposed to study classes, had also been organised to enrich the children’s learning experience. For example, some of them took part in a Dialogue in the Dark exhibition tour to feel what it was like to live without sight.

Tsang was delighted that some of these vulnerable children were keen to study and move on against all odds.

“They firmly believe hard work pays off,” she said.