Hong Kong Social Enterprises

Written by PMM Media, Be Movement issue 5 – HONG KONG, published April 2015
Photography by PMM Media

Continuation of life

Along with happiness and sorrow, birth and death are inextricably part of life. We naturally embrace birth with joy, and death with sorrow; we fear death and often avoid talking about it, and may lose the purpose and energy to live on when we lose our loved ones. While life and death seem opposite in nature, they are closely linked: if we can learn the values of living and understand the meaning of death, we can live without regret; we can also celebrate and remember those who pass away, allowing their spirit to live on. Then, the passing on of life can also be a moment of profound beauty.

Hong Kong people live in a traditional society in which there are many taboos concerning death. We hold fast to the three ‘don’ts’: don’t ask, don’t mention, and don’t discuss.  It is traditional for people to save face: they have a fear of acknowledging their own pain and sorrow, a fear of showing weakness, and a fear of seeking help despite their emotional need to do so. In Hong Kong, we believe that time will lessen pain, and that emotional wounds will heal of their own accord, not knowing that letting pain go unchecked or unmanaged can result in depression or even suicidal tendencies, creating more social and emotional issues.

Christina Li, founder of Heart-to-heart Life Counselling and Education Services, learnt the importance of being open about death and seeking help after experiencing two consecutive bereavements–when her fiancé passed away, and when her chronically ill mother died 9 months later.

Heart-to-heart provides grief counselling and support services, including assistance with funeral and cremation arrangements and how to handle emotional stress. However, a primary objective of the organisation is to improve the state of education on issues concerning death.

Current education about death focuses on funeral details and preparation. The approach of Heart-to-heart is to focus on an appreciation for life. The organisation has implemented a ‘life flashback’ plan in collaboration with Happy Grannies. Volunteers praise the elderly for their accomplishments in life and support them in their pursuit to learn new things, so they face their remaining days with a positive attitude.  The organisation sends haircutting teams, conducts artistic workshops and performs in music ensembles at hospitals and homes for the elderly. Such visits provide a bridge or means to openly discuss the topic of death. It also boldly promotes ‘Funeral DIY’, which encourages people to write their own wills and wishes.

HK social enterprises 6

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HK social enterprises 4

 

The Ultimate Goal

Christina says with a smile, “I look forward to the day when society no longer avoids the topic of death, or when we let it become a casual dinner topic.” With increasing discussion and dialogue about death, we can attempt to move forward, achieving a sense of completeness in life.

http://www.heart2heart.com.hk

Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women

Silence of the Hands

1998: Natascha Kampusch, a wide-eyed Austrian girl was abducted and locked up for 8 years. During her 3,096 days of captivity, she tried to seek help from passers-by but her plea went unanswered. We repeatedly place blame on the abductors and pity the victims, but what have we, the onlookers, the passers-by, done to stop such atrocities from happening? Sexual harassment and violence are daily occurrences; by ignoring their existence, we bear the same crime as the perpetrators–our silence might as well be the very hands that gag the victims.

Witnessing a groper in the MTR and pretending nothing has happened is just an example of how turning a blind eye actually encourages the crime. A bigger responsibility lies with the non-action of the ‘Third Person’, the onlooker.

The Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women is playing a part in supporting sexual abuse survivors and educating society on our roles as bystanders, changing how we view and assist victims of sexual violence.

Through its branch Rainlily, it provides a 24-hours hotline with trained social workers, and follow-ups on referrals by hospitals, authorities, schools and social services. It also provides STD and pregnancy tests.

In 2005, it established another branch–the Anti Sexual Violence Resource Centre or Anti-480. The first of its kind in Hong Kong, Anti-480 focuses on education regarding sexual violence.

‘Third Person Responsibility’ has been at the epicentre of its public education initiatives. Its ‘Break the Silence’ event encourages victims and supporters to convey and upload messages of their ordeals onto the internet, employing art and writing in a cleansing ritual and letting the victims know how they are not alone. Anti-480 also hosts activities such as the ‘Walk in Her Shoes’ event, where men wear heels and perform simple tasks, providing a glimpse into the daily experiences of women. These events aim to increase mutual awareness between both sexes in the hope of reducing incidences of sexual violence, and encourage the ‘Third Person’ to voice their support for women, creating a safer world for women around the world.

Ultimate Goal

Even though a ‘zero sexual violence against women’ society has yet to appear on the horizon, Executive Director Linda Wong keeps her faith: “we shall try our very best, regardless of how little our voices may seem.” Educating the masses on the role of the ‘Third Person’ is now more important than ever, as they play a part in how the survivor reacts to the situation. By eradicating conservative views and acknowledging gender equality, we could finally provide women with the respect they rightfully deserve.

hk social enterprises 2

hk social enterprises 3

hk social enterprises 1

http://www.rainlily.org.hk

Feeding Hong Kong

The Charity Caterer

Hong Kong has long been dubbed ‘Foodie’s Heaven’ by travellers and locals alike. However, few understand there is a dark side to this. More than 3,200 tonnes of food are thrown away every day, amassing to a substantial waste of viable produce. Fortunately in recent years, food banks and charities have sprung up to ease this massive problem.

Feeding Hong Kong is a Hong Kong food bank with a difference. It is the first Hong Kong food bank dedicated to rescuing surplus nutritious food from retailers, distributors and manufacturers, redistributing it to people in need. The task of Feeding Hong Kong is to fight hunger in Hong Kong and at the same time reduce the amount of quality food that is being sent to our city’s landfills.

The company was founded in 2009 with a vision to act as a middleman by bridging local charities to companies with surplus food. Gabrielle Kirstein, Executive Director of Feeding Hong Kong, recalls when she first approached Pret a Manger in Hong Kong, “we were extremely lucky to have them on board. The number of charities with goals to alleviate poverty pleasantly surprised us. Ultimately through a series of trials and errors, we now have many distributors willing to donate their excess food to us, and in turn we deliver it to small to medium-sized welfare agencies, who don’t have government or corporate backing but could make the biggest social impact.”

Feeding Hong Kong recently launched the ‘Chefs in the Community’ programme, inviting chefs to formulate a recipe with donated food as well as holding community cooking classes, making sure those in need are getting the right kinds of food and maintaining a healthy diet with minimal cost. There are also occasions when donated food is not wanted and rather than simply disposing of it, Feeding Hong Kong works closely with Green Idea, a company that turns their unwanted donations into fertilisers.

The Ultimate Goal

At the end of the day, the goal here is to make food donation the norm rather than the exception, and with companies like Feeding Hong Kong springing up, this dream certainly has a chance of becoming a reality.

 

 

 

CONTACT US!

NAME*

EMAIL*

ORGANIZATION (IF ANY)

MESSAGE*

Human Check*
captcha