PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 December, 2014, 12:08am
At a primary school in Sham Shui Po, 20 first- to third-graders raced one another excitedly across a classroom, looking for the correct English words pasted on the walls in a vocabulary game.
The children rarely play games after school, teacher Ip Sui-ha said, so this was a treat.
And bringing this special entertainment to the Shamshuipo Kaifong Welfare Association Primary School was a group of Hang Seng Bank employees assuming the roles of Sowers Action charity volunteers.
“Most of the children come from low-income families,” Ip said. “Most of the parents aren’t Hong Kong natives and some of the children were even raised by single parents.
“In some cases, the children don’t even live together with their mother and father. These pupils really need help from the school.”
Before the games started, the Hang Seng people helped pupils with their homework – to put themselves in the shoes of the charity that is a beneficiary of Operation Santa Claus, the yearly fundraiser held by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.
Voluntary work is an ongoing venture for Hang Seng, said Alison Ho Cheuk-wai, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.
“We have around 150 volunteer projects, mostly focused on three areas: the environment, the elderly and underprivileged kids,” Ho said. “Hang Seng encourages its staff to do volunteer work to give to society.”
So far this year, it has amassed more than HK$150,000 in donations.
Sowers Action used to focus solely on helping underprivileged children on the mainland, but turned its gaze to Hong Kong pupils in 2011. “As a lot of parents work two jobs, our services release the stress on them,” the charity’s chief executive Brianna Hui Bun-bun said.
Edith Liu I-te, relationship officer of corporate banking at Hang Seng, said her first experience volunteering with children was unexpected.
“The kids are a bit wild,” she said. “But it’s a good experience. You can see how these children learn, especially how some struggle with their homework. Society needs us to be mentors of our younger generation.”
Liu and her colleagues certainly left their mark on the pupils. “I’m really going to miss them,” third-grader Wing Yau said. “I hope to see them again.”