Sin Por Por’s Story

Sin Por Por is an elderly lady living alone in a public housing estate. We have visited her on a monthly basis for the past four and a half years. Last year, she began complaining of progressive blurred vision. Since the public hospitals have a long waiting list even for an eye examination, we managed to set up an appointment with a Christian ophthalmologist for her. She was diagnosed with macular degeneration and cataracts in both eyes.

According the doctor's assessment, cataract surgery on her left eye was required to improve her eyesight. Sin Por POr consented to the operation, and it was performed on July 18. It proved to be successful and her vision has since improved.

I have indeed seen the love and grace of God showered upon Sin Por Por. I am especially grateful for all the people who have contributed to helping her: her neighbor Mrs. Leung and the brothers and sisteres from Island ECC for their continuous care for Sin Por Por, the ophthalmologist for giving her a generous discount on the surgery; and Hope of the City for providing the financial assistance.

It has been an honor to partner with these others and to be an instrument of God's grace. Most importantly, Sin Por Por is now ope to the gospel and willing to participate in church activities. Praise the Lord!

- Jessie Lee

Posted on October 6, 2016 .

Volunteer tutor shares her gifts with joy

'I am Franselaine Maghinang and I volunteer as an English tutor for Hope of the City. Since April this year, I have been tutoring two secondary school students at Yan Kei Church in Lai Chi Kok. Every Saturday after work, I rush to Lai Chi Kok just to be on time for the class, which runs from 1:30pm to 3pm.

'At first, the kids were reluctant to speak up because I can’t speak Cantonese and so English is the only way for us to communicate with each other. Yet, after we got to know each other better, they were eager to talk to me about what happens at school, their personal lives and even share some jokes.

'God has given each and every one of us gifts from His variety of spiritual gifts and we are to use these gifts or talents well to serve others.

'As 1 Peter 4:10 says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." I love inspiring people through sharing my dreams and struggles, particularly these young ones. I believe that through volunteering as a tutor, I can make use of some of the gifts that God has equipped me with so that I can also be a blessing to others.' 

-  Franselaine Maghinang (volunteer tutor since Apr 2016)

  Franselaine with her two students on their first class

Franselaine with her two students on their first class

Posted on August 15, 2016 .

One Person with a Caring Heart Makes all the Difference

When Hope of the City hosted our first SSP Xperience in February, 2015, our goal was to raise awareness of the many needs of people living in poverty in Sham Shui Po. We hoped to inspire others to join us in using their time and talents to make a difference in the lives of those on the margins of society.

One of our guests that evening was inspired. During a late-night meal at a smoky cha chan teng after the event, this recently retired business executive asked what he personally could do to help. The first thing that came to mind was, ‘Well, there are a lot of kids from low-income families who are really struggling in school. Why not come down and help them with their homework?’

That very night, David Ho asked me to direct him to the J-Life community centre, where he became one of Hope of the City’s volunteer tutors the very next week. And he’s been going strong ever since.

David has been tutoring primary students at J-Life for more than a year now, faithfully offering his time twice a week from 3.30pm - 6.30pm to help the children with English and Math. Even though this Taiwan native doesn’t speak Cantonese, he hasn’t let that stop him from developing a strong bond with the regular bunch of kids he works with.

“I’m very happy tutoring the kids,” he says. It’s obvious that they are equally happy to have his help, as they eagerly look forward to seeing him on tutoring days.

David recalls how he would find his eyes tearing up in the beginning when one young boy he was tutoring would pack up his school books at 6pm sharp each day and go to sit by the door, where he’d stare out anxiously as he waited for his mother to pick him up. David had learnt that the boy’s mother (a single parent) suffered from depression and had once told her son that one day she wouldn’t be around to care for him anymore. So every day, the boy worried that this might be the day she didn’t show up to collect him.

Tutoring kids has been rewarding for David, and also a learning experience. He told me that spending time with the children has taught him to be humble and patient. He’s also learnt that what’s most important is to let them know that God loves them and that someone cares about them.

Even though David has taken up some professional work again, he continues to devote his time each week to the kids, going so far as to tell his clients that he’s not available on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, because those are his tutoring days. He also actively encourages his friends to join him in tutoring the children, and several of them have already become involved as well.

We are truly grateful for faithful volunteers like David, who have stepped up and committed themselves to helping us fulfill our vision of transforming our city, one life at a time.

Posted on April 29, 2016 .

SSP Xperience 2.0 Reflection

From 29-30 January, Hope of the City ran our second SSP Xperience in Sham Shui Po. Last year’s event was an evening encounter with real life in Sham Shui Po, but this time we expanded the experience to include an overnight stay at Mei Ho House youth hostel. We were thrilled to have 30 people sign up to join us for a guided ‘service tour’ of the district which is the focus of Hope’s work.

Things got underway at 7pm on Friday with a short briefing and a quick bite of local cuisine – Cha Sui and 'bak tong go'. Then everyone headed out in groups of 2-3 to visit low-income families living in sub-divided homes and bring them some Chinese New Year snacks. The next stop was the J-Life Community Center, where we met up with Chau Gor, who has been serving the homeless for many years. He introduced the next part of the SSP experience, dropping in on the many street sleepers living under a nearby flyover. We prepared some hot ginger tea and warm clothing to take with us, and spent some time distributing these among the street sleepers, engaging with those who were up for some conversation.

It was well after 10:30pm before we circled back through the darkened streets of SSP, passing the many impromptu flea market vendors and scores of electronics recyclers on our way to the Shek Kip Mei Estate dai pai dong for a late meal of steamed egg, clay pot veg and other SSP specialties. The meal provided the opportunity for everyone to share their impressions and hear more from two of our faithful local partners, Chau Gor, from Christian Concern for the Homeless, and Elli, from J-Life. The night ended (for those who still had the energy) with a hike up the hill behind Mei Ho House for prayer on the mount after midnight.

The next day began with interviews and a Q&A session with three special guests: Elli shared her personal story, followed by testimonies from a mother of three and a young former triad member, both of whom saw their lives changed after receiving help from a Hope-funded community center.

To give our participants a glimpse of what life is like for those with very little money, we decided to host an Amazing Race-type of shopping assignment. Teams of 2-3 people each received HK$50 with which they had to purchase the ingredients to make two nutritious meals for a family of four (this sort of budget is a daily reality for many low-income families in SSP). The winning team received a Feeding Hong Kong cookbook of low budget meals.

The final event of the SSP Xperience was a stop at a soup kitchen run by Christian Concern for the Homeless. There, we had the chance to meet the ‘Buddies’ who regularly turn to the soup kitchen for a hot meal. We played a stimulating game together, and then helped to serve lunch, interacting with the Buddies as we enjoyed the nutritious food.

Before leaving the soup kitchen to go our separate ways, we took a few moments for some heart-felt sharing about what participants were taking away from the experience. Here are some of their comments:

'Amazingly, it was a much more powerful experience than I imagined.'  - William C.

'Talking to Elli and joining the home visit were definitely among the most important lessons I’ve had in life.' - Tracy L.

'I think the entire event was very well organized, and we especially enjoyed the testimonials and the stay at Mei Ho House.' - Candace W.

Posted on February 2, 2016 .

Food Drive Success at Island

Hope of the City wants to say a huge THANK YOU to Island ECC for so enthusiastically supporting our Food Drive on behalf of Feeding Hong Kong. Over the past two Sundays, Oct 5 and 12, you donated close to 1,200 food items! These goods will go towards restocking the shelves of Feeding Hong Kong’s food bank and help them provide much-needed food assistance to low-income families throughout our city. 

A special thank you goes to the Men’s Fraternity for shouldering the task of carrying in some very heavy stuff – BIG bags of rice, bottles of oil and cartons of milk. Great job, guys!

Here are a few figures to let you see just some of what came in:

• 281 packages of Chinese noodles
• 346 cans (of fish, vegetables, meat, soup, fruit)
• 78 packages of pasta
• 30 bags of rice
• 22 bottles of oil
• 32 litres of milk
• 67 packages of biscuits
• 14 cans/packages of oatmeal
• 177 packs of instant noodles

Want to find out about other ways to get involved with Hope of the City? Go to here.


Posted on October 14, 2014 .

Mid-Autumn Festival Party Shines for Local Families

On September 6, under a brilliant full moon, 24 children and their parents from the J-Life community centre in Sham Shui Po gathered for a special family outing to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. The fun began with afternoon tea at Dragon Centre before everyone climbed onto a coach for the short ride to the Jao Tsung-i Academy near Mei Foo. This lovely historical complex on a hillside was the perfect location for some serious moon-gazing, but first there was much more fun to be had.

Inside, a wide range of intriguing activities, all focused on the moon, had been prepared. There were songs in several languages, with hand instruments for the kids to play, and cartoon videos from different cultures. Moms and kids drew faces on paper moons, recited a famous Chinese moon poem together, listened to moon-themed stories and then made crafts based on the stories. They even learned how to make lanterns out of pomelo skins. Then out came an abundance of traditional festival snacks, including peanuts, star fruit, round pears, round cookies and, of course, mooncakes. At last it was time to head out into the gardens to view the moon.

By 9.30pm, arms filled with pomelos and buns and paper lanterns, everyone clambered back onto the bus for home, worn out and sleepy but filled with visions of happy moons dancing through their imaginations.   

Our heart-felt thanks go out to the organizer, Reading in Growing, and the wonderful people at the Jao Tsung-i Academy for all their hard work and patience in making this an unforgettable festival celebration for these families. Thank you!!

 

Posted on September 23, 2014 .

Family Environmental Day a Big Hit with North Point Families

Family outings may not seem like anything extraordinary to many people in Hong Kong, but for low-income families, they are a rare treat – the costs of transport and eating out can easily exceed their weekly food budget!  That’s why it was such a delight for a group of families from North Point to be invited to join the Family Environmental Day, sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) and the Asia Society. Parents and kids alike were all smiles as they learned to make recycled paper, decorated bookmarks with dried flowers and joined creative forces to design ‘Home Green Home’ posters. Other highlights of the day included starting a take-home herb garden in converted water bottles and racing through a maze built from a variety of recycled materials. 

Each family that participated was paired with a BofAML volunteer to guide them through the activities and make sure maximum fun was had by all as they learned about caring for the environment. By lunch time, everyone had worked up an appetite and eagerly tucked in to the yummy hot dogs, fish balls, pizza, ice cream and much more. Hope of the City is grateful for BofAML's generosity, not only for planning this joyful family event but also for covering all the costs for the families. 

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Posted on June 10, 2014 .

Chan Por Por Clean-Up Project

Home Renovations for Those in Need

In serving low-income households, Hope of the City has encountered many families/elderly people whose homes are in desperate need of cleaning/renovation and who lack basic appliances such as washing machines or refrigerators. Part of our mission is to holistically meet the needs of the poor - ranging from material giving to emotional support. With the help of dedicated volunteers and contractors willing to subsidise renovations efforts, Hope of the City is seeking to offer low-income households more comfortable living environments. 

Chan Por Por Clean-Up Project 

A group of volunteers who had regularly been visiting Chan Por Por took the initiative to start a home “make over” project to de-clutter the elderly woman’s home and give her flat a desperately-needed cleaning. Several care groups from Island ECC, men from Men’s Fraternity and Islanders basketball team joined together to pour love on Chan Por Por and make her feel valued. 

With patience and great care, the volunteers removed expired food, brought in an exterminator to kill a colony of cockroaches, sorted through soiled linens and disassembled an extremely heavy metal bed frame. 

Posted on March 26, 2014 .

Learning through Serving

When Tony first learned about the opportunity to do outreach in Sham Shui Po, he knew instantly that he wanted to volunteer. Like many others, he wondered, “Will I have the time? Do I know what I am getting myself into? Am I really capable of helping others in a meaningful way?” However, he didn’t let his hesitations stop him. 

He began volunteering to help Elli, the leader of J-Life community centre, with home visits to selected under-privileged families. Despite his initial concerns, he sensed that God was providing the time for him to participate and opening his heart and mind to embrace serving others. 

Tony shared, “As time goes by, I find myself more and more committed to the ministry. I am truly inspired by the unconditional dedication Elli gives in helping this community and by God's grace, I am also learning and growing through volunteering.”

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Posted on March 19, 2014 .

Mutually Joyous Occasions with IDEAL Members!

Volunteering to support English tutoring sessions – mutually joyous occasions!

We first met the IDEAL family when we volunteered with others from Hope of the City for their Annual Walkathon at the Peak. We found them to be a delightful group and we were keen to offer our time to support them.

A regular feature of IDEAL’s weekend programme is English Tutoring. The sessions typically take place on Saturday afternoons with the support of volunteers.

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So what do you get when you mix a group of 15 or so motivated and curious members with a few enthusiastic Hope of the City volunteers who want to help teach English?  Lots of fun and laughter along with plenty of learning for everyone! We are English-speaking but we are not teachers or tutors, so during our first visit we took a creative and rather informal approach to engaging the ‘students’ to learn some English basics:   

  • How do you do? (with a firm handshake); 
  • What is your favourite fruit? (with various varieties available to share and eat!)
  • And then – a popular choice – well-known English songs that everyone seemed to know.  We left it to the members to decide on the animals on Old Macdonald’s Farm: he had a pig, a dog, a rabbit, a mouse and a tiger - some imagination huh?  And of course we provided the necessary accompanying animations and noises!

For the second visit we joined Fido from Executive Communications, who is a teacher and he gave some well-needed structure to the session.

All in all, every contact with IDEAL is a fun and joyous occasion where we all come away having learned and shared something special.

If you are interested in volunteering for a future session, contact volunteer@hopeofthecity.com

- Neil Stevens and Rosie Halfhead
Hope of the City Volunteers

Posted on August 21, 2013 .

A Child's Worth

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When we first met the children in Sham Shui Po, they were unwilling to talk to us and tried to avert our gazes, not to mention the difficulties for us to share with them. A lot of the kids living in Sham Shui Po may not experience a lot of love because their parents work really hard to provide for the family and are often away from home. But slowly, through confidence and trust building games, the volunteers started to connect with them. We really wanted to let them know that we care about them. The children are just as worthy as any other person, but they may not know their worth and needed encouragement and affirmation. Through a lot of sharing and story telling, the children learnt more about values like trust, love, and forgiveness. We organized role-plays, games, sharing sessions and more games! This is not only fun to the kids, but also fun for the volunteers. In the end, the children responded to us by telling us that they want to come back for more; they also mentioned that no one has ever been so willing to share and listen to their thoughts. This is a great experience as I learnt a lot from the children and my fellow volunteers. Watching the children opening up is definitely an experience I would remember. In the end, us volunteers all received memorable gifts (in the forms of smileys and self written notes) from the children. I now have their gifts pinned on my table top to remind me of them.

- Justin Lee 
Hope of the City Volunteer 

Posted on August 7, 2013 .

God is Calling Every One of You

I [Ben Cheng] visited Ms. Lai for the first time on 9th December 2012.  Prior to the visit, I had spoken to her over the phone and our conversation convinced me that it would be a pleasant home visit.

It was my first time visiting a partitioned home and I was shocked by Ms. Lai’s living condition.  The partitioned home was so small that it could only fit one bed, which had to be next a tiny bathroom.  Ms. Lai told me that rent has always been her major struggle. It has been so expensive that she has a very tight budget for food and other basic needs.

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Fortunately, with the help of a social worker, Ms. Lai was granted a flat in the government housing with rent of only 1/3 of what she had been paying for the partitioned home.  However, she is almost 80 years old and she needed people to help her move, so I asked her to contact the social worker to arrange the necessary help.

After 1 month, I visited Ms. Lai again. She looked much happier, because she got the key for her new place.  She wanted to move in as soon as possible, in order to save some money on rent at the partitioned home. Yet, there was no news from the social worker.  At this very moment, I felt God’s calling to help Ms. Lai with her move.

There must be a specific reason why God arranged me to visit this household.  I was thinking, “what would Jesus do if he encountered the same situation?”  Hence, I reached out to some brothers at my care group and with 5 of us (1 brother sponsored the moving cost), we successfully helped Ms. Lai relocate to her new place within the same week! Praise God, He again listened to our prayers.

The process went really smoothly and I felt that God had been guiding us and protecting us as always. Praise God for giving this experience to Ms. Lai, my brothers in Christ and me.  The improvement in Ms. Lai's situation was a great blessing, which also gave an overflowing joy in our hearts!  Through this experience, we believe that more people would have their prayers answered and more brothers and sisters would have the courage to answer God's call! 

Can you hear God calling YOU?  Act NOW!

- Ben Cheng
Hope of the City Volunteer

Posted on March 28, 2013 .

Something to Hope For

I am Jessie Lee, I have been involved with elderly outreach for 1 year. I started to have a burden for elderly people 2 years ago when my parents were diagnosed with serious illnesses.  I wanted to do something for elderly people. The senior whom I have been visiting with Alda is Sin Po Po, who lives alone and had brain surgery before. I was very glad that after 3 to 4 visits, she started to recognize me.  She always expresses her appreciation to us for spending time with her and bringing her gifts (prepared by church).  I believe that we have developed a good relationship. Though what we can do is limited, I hope our visit is something that Sin Po Po is looking forward to.  I truly think that it is important to give elderly people something to hope for, such that they see life is still meaningful for them, and that they are still loved and cared by others.  

One of the more memorable visits was our field trip to Lai Chi Kok Park.  All elderly were truly excited about being able to venture outside of their normal home and community.  Sin Po Po too was in really good spirits that day. She enjoyed what she saw and enjoyed all the company she had.

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We invited Sin Po Po to pray with us in our visits, she never rejected us. I hope that in 2013, as we will continue to visit Sin Po Po, we can deepen our relationship with her and share the Gospel with her.

I thank God and Hope of the City for giving me chance to serve in this wonderful program.  In the past few months, my family and myself have been thinking of a business to serve elderly people, through this outreach program I found that I really enjoyed serving elderly people and I wanted to do more for them. The experience I have gained will surely help me in the business.

- Jessie Lee with contributions from Alda Leung
Hope of the City Volunteers  

Posted on January 11, 2013 and filed under Volunteer Story, Tesimonies.

Giving the Best of Our Time

God will bring break through when we pursue Him and obey what He says...

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Giving the best of our time. What does that mean for us? For many of us the best of our time is sleeping in on a Saturday morning after a night out with friends or after a long week of work. Getting up early in the morning to venture over to visit a stranger I hardly knew was not exactly high on my list of to dos. I had moved to Hong Kong in May from Boston and my very first elderly outreach event was on August 25th, the elderly Dim Sum Lunch.  At the time I was apartment searching and the usual grumbles of an American expat living in HK were just beginning to surface ie small apartments, too expensive, not enough room.  On Aug 25, Po Po (the elderly grandma) pulled open the gate with a warm smile as I stepped over the cardboard divider that is meant to keep rats out. My first thought was, how this tiny place with two bunk beds and stacks of clothes piled up was even livable. My second thought was, I will never complain about my own housing again. My third thought was I probably haven’t even seen the worst of it yet in HK. As I was assessing my surroundings (and trying to keep up in Cantonese), my gaze fell on a tiny cross hanging on a very barren wall. Po Po was a Christian and sort of a fighter for God as she rallies up her friends for church. She also without fail looks forward to our monthly visits where she listens to us regaling her with our personal stories. Her apartment may have been small and cramped but her positive outlook, warmth, and focus on the blessings that she does have was really inspiring and humbling for me. The love she received from us was a reflection of God's love shining through.  After that Dim sum Lunch I really felt that God was calling me to realign my priorities and sow more of my time into His Kingdom.  It was a turning point in my own life as slowly I could see myself being transformed with my faith growing stronger as Isaiah’s “run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not be faint.” took on a deeper meaning for me.

I joined North Point outreach on Nov 11 thanks again to another friend who was involved. I was signed up with a small family this time that consisted of a single father and his three children sharing a small room with two other families. The father was unemployed and not a Christian but the love that he showed his children was incredibly heartwarming. He doesn’t speak Cantonese and wants to find a job in a grocery market where his language barrier wouldn’t be an issue. He mentioned that he wanted books for his children and I said why don’t we pray about it. The next day, I received an email from Amy Tsai saying someone had made a generous furniture donation to the church in addition to … yes children’s BOOKS! I took some time to say my own silent prayer of thanks to God for providing exactly what this tiny family needed. In December when I visited this family again bearing toys that were donated from my friend’s toy company, I decided to go to Elim and buy a picture Bible for the children. Coming from a non-Christian family myself, I had my first encounter with God’s word after having discovered a picture Bible on the bookshelf at a sleepover. I was only 10 years old but by the time I was done reading at 3 am, seeds had already been planted. When the two younger daughters came back from the library, I very excitedly handed them their new toys along with their new picture Bible. The oldest daughter gazed at the picture Bible in my hand, bolted back to her backpack and handed me what she had borrowed from the library that day. Her own picture Bible. 

I started getting involved in outreach 5 months ago not knowing what to expect and already I’ve seen God working in miraculous ways. I knew God had led me to that Po Po and to that family not just because I could make an impact on them but that they can also have an impact on me and in turn remind me that God is always faithful. I am excited to see how God will continue to work through me or other volunteers as we continue to be salt and light to those afflicted with spiritual and material poverty.

- Christy Dai
Hope of the City Volunteer

Posted on January 11, 2013 and filed under Volunteer Story, Tesimonies.