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Community Spirit! Light up the Darkness

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Omicron never takes a day off, why should we? Local charities are doing their utmost to support Hong Kong’s most vulnerable through the pandemic, and we can all help shine a light by donating time, money or provisions. Samantha Wong reports

PHOTOS BY Adobe Stock

Last month, Hong Kong experienced its toughest COVID-19 wave to date. We all lived through compulsory testing, rising case numbers and stricter social distancing measures. Fears of being packed off to Penny’s Bay for 21 days become a reality for many. But it was the city’s most vulnerable – among them migrant workers and the elderly – who suffered the most.

Now the peak is apparently over, and we are looking forward to a return to some form of normality, with significant easing of Hong Kong’s tough pandemic-control measures starting April 21. But the situation remains critical for the elderly, especially those who live alone in government housing or in group homes, and for migrant workers, many of whom find themselves homeless on testing positive.
What can you do to help? Here, we’ve listed a few of the many Hong Kong charities that are working tirelessly to support those in need. You can help by donating time, money or provisions.

SUPPORTING THE ELDERLY

Gingko House, www.love.org.hk

Gingko House supports underprivileged and vulnerable groups, particularly the elderly, by providing them with food and a place to spend time. As a social enterprise restaurant (now with four branches, all staffed by senior citizens), it provides free meals to people in need. Gingko House has a catering division and an organic farm.

Where you come in: You can donate money. You can pay for a meal and have it delivered to those in need. You can donate non-perishable items and have them delivered to a Gingko House restaurant. You can volunteer to deliver lunch boxes to those who need them. You can donate masks, disinfectants, rapid antigen test kits and new warm clothing. Visit www.love.org.hk.

Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong, www.habitat.org.hk
Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to improving the living conditions of old people, people with disabilities and low-income families, who live in sub-standard housing. It recruits student and corporate volunteers to help build and repair homes, and it is currently recruiting volunteers to help elderly people deep-clean their homes.

Where you come in: You can donate money. You can donate hygiene packs comprising face masks, hand sanitisers and rapid antigen test kits. You can volunteer to help repair or deep-clean someone’s home. Visit www.habitat.org.hk.

Helping Hand, www.helpinghand.org.hk
Helping Hand is dedicated to serving elderly people who are in need. Established in 1978 to rehouse old people living in cage homes, it runs six old people’s homes plus the only holiday centre for the elderly in Hong Kong. In addition to providing quality residential, rehabilitation and dementia care services, the team provides community support services and programmes for other seniors and their carers.

Where you come in: You can donate money. You can volunteer to visit the elderly. You can organise a fundraiser. You can have a Will drawn up. Yes, you read that right. From now until April 30, the lawyers at Oldham, Lie and Nie (www.oln-law.com) have pledged to prepare a simple Will for anyone who contributes HK$2,900 to Helping Hand. Funds raised will go towards providing elderly people in need with food and daily essentials. Visit www.helpinghand.org.hk.

PROTECTING MIGRANT WORKERS

Bethune House, www.bethunehouse.org
Bethune House is a community-driven, emergency shelter providing refuge, food and medical assistance to migrant workers in crises. The team also helps migrant women, including domestic workers, seek justice following abuse, mistreatment or unfair termination.

Where you come in: You can donate money (HK$1,000 sponsors one worker for emergency support for one week). Through cash donations, Bethune House can provide food and water assistance, rapid antigen test kits, medical supplies, blankets, sleeping bags, personal necessities and safe and secure accommodation. Visit www.bethunehouse.org.

HELP for Domestic Workers, www.helpfordomesticworkers.org
HELP for Domestic Workers offers migrant domestic workers advice, assistance, education and empowerment to help them receive fair and equal treatment under the law. Its current priority is to provide domestic workers with essential supplies and temporary shelters. The team also provides counselling for domestic workers, who have suffered trauma during this time; legal support for domestic workers on pandemic-related legal and immigration issues; and financial support for domestic workers, who are facing mounting medical bills, especially those who have lost access to medical insurance after termination.

Where you come in: You can donate money. Through cash donations, HELP for Domestic Workers can provide food and water assistance, rapid antigen test kits, medical and cleaning supplies, clothes and bedding, and safe and secure accommodation. You can volunteer to helping source, pack and deliver essential supplies every day, three times a day, to temporary shelters across Hong Kong. Visit www.helpfordomesticworkers.org.

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