As part of my older daughter’s 10th birthday experience with Twopresents, we visited the Chan Ping Elderly Centre to learn more about how her birthday money was going to be used by the charity. Mandy Wong from the Centre insisted that we come on a particular Saturday, because the Centre was running a Fun Fair that day. With activities in the morning and a dentist appointment already scheduled for the afternoon, I was reluctant at first, but after some back and forth I eventually managed to re-schedule our day and we promised Mandy we would be there.
The visit started with a tour of the Centre and Mandy showed us where activities such as yoga, dance and English classes are run to keep the elderly engaged and active. My girls were delighted to learn the most popular activity for members was one of their favourite raindy-day pastimes, Sudoku. Mandy told us that groups came into the Centre every day to work on puzzles together and even take puzzles home to do in the evenings.
During our tour, Mandy also explained that her primary responsibility was working with the “hidden elderly”, who are the ones supported by Twopresents funding. These are people in the neighbourhood who don’t come to the Centre. Many of them do not want to be a burden on their families or the community and choose to stay home, resulting in them having hardly any human interaction at all. Mandy’s job is to provide care for these individuals through home visits. With donations from Twopresents, she is able to purchase necessities such as clothing or food to take as gifts on these visits. When she goes bearing gifts, she says, there is a better chance they will open the door and let her in.
After visiting the Centre, the girls were eager to get to the Fun Fair, a small neighbourhood affair in the basketball court of the estate, where elderly volunteers were having as much fun as the children as they ran booths and played games. With old-fashioned games, a stage for performances and prizes to be won, people of all ages were happily milling around and chatting. Although there was a language barrier, my girls quickly worked out how to participate. To my surprise, they patiently waited in long lines to play the 6 games so they could earn stamps and get a prize of their choice. It was heartwarming to see that the excitement of playing simple games like ball toss and darts was enough to bridge cultural and generational differences for an afternoon of fun for everyone.
As we were getting ready to leave, Mandy introduced us to 91-year-old Ms. Wong who was eagerly waiting her turn in the line to play darts. Having been with Chan Ping since 2000, she is a volunteer leader among the elderly, encouraging her peers to connect with the community and often alerting the Centre when a fellow elder is in need. Despite her diminishing eyesight and hearing, Mandy explained how Ms. Wong serves as a role model, showing others that growing old is not a reason to give up on themselves. Our delightful chat with Ms. Wong made it clear that anyone at any age can make a difference and help others – this was a wonderful message for us to leave with. As we set off on our long commute home, I couldn’t help thinking this was probably one of our most memorable experiences in Hong Kong. It was truly a day well spent thanks to Twopresents!
For more information about the Chan Ping Elderly Centre and how you can help this wonderful cause, please visit https://www.twopresents.com/charities/chan-ping-elderly-centre.