Canadian International School of Hong Kong
I stepped into the squalid apartment as the sounds of ailment filled my ears and was overwhelmed by the pungent smell of tobacco and the unknown. Ah-Keung, a retired construction worker, smiled at me with a toothpick hanging from his crooked, yellowed smile. “Long time no see! I was starting to get lonely!” he said, as he led me through the apartment that he shared with 7 others.
Wire cages and tiny units impoverished people in Hong Kong are forced to live in opened my eyes to a separate world, where poverty coupled with tight living spaces creates a breeding ground for disease and injury. Since then, I developed a colossal urge to serve those suffering, prompting me to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong.
I joined Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong’s Canadian International School Campus Chapter in 2016, growing into the presidential role as the longest serving president since its establishment. With the organisation, I gained hands on experience in working with vulnerable communities around Southeast Asia, building collegial atmospheres with my team and homeowners, and advocating for this issue in my school and local communities through organisation of large events alongside the executive team.
The Habitat build trips, and being a part of this cause was a unique experience where the gruelling work that goes into our comfortable homes becomes tangible. Experiencing the manpower that goes into building a single house in China/ Philippines/ Thailand made each day’s end indescribably rewarding. A build trip is also an opportunity to connect with others — fellow students and the local community — as we unite in combating the need of shelter, in which our daily luxuries in the comforts of our home have made us all liable. The experience enriched my understanding of my fellow builders, the needs of the world, and also how lucky some of us are in HK today.