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Community spirit: Helping to rebuild villagers’ homes and clean up our beaches

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DB residents came together in the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut to help neighbours in Nim Shue Wan who were badly affected by the storm. The tropical cyclone triggered the T10 warning – the highest possible signal – as hurricane-strength winds swept across the territory on September 16.

Many properties in Nim Shue Wan suffered severe damage, as well as loss of electricity and access to clean water. Some less mobile residents were unable to leave the village due to the path being blocked, while others had to take shelter with neighbours.

The relief work began on September 17, the day after the storm, with DBers quickly providing villagers with food and clean drinking water. Essential supplies, like food, toiletries, detergents, crockery, glasses, clothes, shoes, bed linen and light bulbs, gradually amassed at the Nim Shue Wan gate.

“DB is a generous and supportive community. We are very thankful for the generous donations of food, water and other essentials during [the villagers’] time of need,” says Meeta Nayar, one of the donation drive coordinators.

People looking to donate larger items, such as household appliances, turned to Nikki Boot of DB Mothers & Friends. The DB-based social enterprise provides a regular collection service through which ‘preloved’ items from homes and offices are redistributed to charities, schools, churches and those in need and as such, it was well placed to help the distressed villagers.

Nikki and her team got to work immediately, and the donation drive continued into October. Thanks to the people of DB and across Hong Kong, DB Mothers & Friends was able to deliver truck-loads of mattresses, foldable beds and every kind of furniture item and appliance to the Nim Shue Wan villagers.

“The road to deliver the pre-loved furniture and appliances was challenging – the typhoon had just about destroyed it – but we made it!” Nikki says. “Millions of thanks go to everyone who helped rebuild homes in this beautiful village.

A special shout out has to go to community group The White House Gang, who helped the villagers for a month,” Nikki adds. “They’ve purchased more than 20 fridges and washing machines, and delivered them to Nim Shue Wan.”

In addition to making donations and getting furniture into the village, DBers also did their bit post-typhoon by joining the emergency beach clean-ups (over 15 to date) organised by DB Green and Plastic Free Seas (PFS). Nim Shue Wan, Sam Pak Wan and Cheung Sha Lan were all badly affected, and there is still plenty of work to do, particularly at Sam Pak Wan.

“Typhoon Mangkhut was far more destructive than any I have seen in the past, damaging the cement sidewalk along the back of Nim Shue Wan, as well as the natural path to Sam Pak Wan near DB North Plaza,” opens Dana Winograd of DB Green. “The government has done a great job repairing the walkway to Nim Shue Wan.”

At least 200 people have helped out at the DB Green and PFS beach clean-ups, with volunteers harking not just from DB but from wider Hong Kong. Of the waste collected Dana says, “There was a huge amount of polystyrene broken down into microplastics and piled up on the beaches, as well as bigger pieces, both on the beaches and blown into the foliage behind. There were more plastic drink bottles than usual – a few deep in the bushes were up to 40-years old.”

Saying how fantastic it was to see DBers taking the initiative and driving activities within the community, Dana is quick to praise Johnny Haines of Lantau Island Paddle. The Discovery Bay International School (DBIS) teacher arranged a post-typhoon beach clean-up at Nim Shue Wan on September 20 for DBIS students, parents and teachers.

Next on Jonny’s agenda is The Big DB Community Clean-up, organised alongside PFS. The event had to be postponed in October due to bad weather and is now scheduled for early 2019. A student-led litter collection at beaches, parks and paths across the resort, it’s going to be a great way for anyone looking to do volunteer work to get involved.

“It’s a really great community event, not just cleaning beaches but the pathways throughout DB, driving a sense of community ownership, pride and responsibility for our environment,” says Dana.

DB Green Facebook page
DB Mothers & Friends Facebook page
• Lantau Island Paddle, lantaupaddle.wixsite.com/lantaupaddle
• Plastic Free Seas, plasticfreeseas.org

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