Something that most people would not associate with Hong Kong is poverty however when you look beneath the surface, there are a frightening amount of people who live below the poverty line. Real estate in Hong Kong is some of the most expensive in the world and there is a chronic shortage of public housing. As a result, there are people who resort to living in coffin homes, McDonalds or even the street. Despite the government having a surplus, there is little support for those in need and accommodation in hostels is restricted to 6 months.
There is a new charity in Hong Kong called ImpactHK who are determined to help those less fortunate through the simple act of kindness. Every day, they run a kindness walk in different areas of Hong Kong with the aim of sharing food, water, supplies and kindness to those living on the street. It is not just about giving supplies, the aim is to build relationships and gain trust of those on the street. ImpactHK runs a scheme where they employ and house homeless individuals who are open to the opportunity of rehabilitation and changing their life around. They have set up the Guest Room as a sanctuary for those in need, with an area to rest as well as food, drinks, clothing and other supplies available for them to take.
I went on my first walk to Sham Shui Po and nothing quite prepared me for how I would feel on my first encounter. I never felt in danger, or scared but I felt so many emotions seeing the living conditions that these people had to endure everyday. We entered a park where a group of around 20/30 people live and their only escape from the real world is drugs. Some would not accept any food or drink, not because of pride but due to a lack of trust. I can’t imagine trusting or opening up to anyone if I was left to survive on the streets. We then went on to a footbridge, where another 10-15 people lived. We received a warm welcome from a lady called Eppie who is getting ready to embrace change in her life. After 2 hours, we had run out of supplies to hand out and we called it a night.
I wish I could speak Cantonese so I could have had more meaningful conversations with the people I encountered but I’m so pleased that I joined the walk. Society tends to teach us to turn away and ignore those living on the streets but it was great to learn about the changes other volunteers had witnessed overtime purely through the act of kindness. I would highly recommend getting involved and I intend to keep supporting such a wonderful cause.
For more information go to: www.impacthk.org