“On windy days, the loose paint chips of the ceiling will fall. I have to cover my head with a plastic bag when I cook,” Grandma shared her cooking strategy in a Shanghainese accent. Grandpa Chan Hai Lai and his wife have lived in Kwun Tong Tsui Ping Estate for more than eight years. The old couple needs to gear up for cooking every day: Grandma puts a red plastic bag over her head as a hat, bending down to cook dishes under an extractor hood. Grandpa, the assistant, uses a pot lid as a shield to cover the ingredients when passing them to his wife. The couple is so tense because the loose paint keeps flaking off from time to time, and they try their best to avoid any unwelcome toppings – falling dust and chipped paint, which may contaminate the food.
To bring the old couple a decent place to cook and live, 4 student volunteers took part in Project Home Works on 23 July 2016 to repair the ceiling of kitchen and washroom for these two elderly people. The volunteers were surprised to see that the paint of the kitchen and bathroom ceilings were seriously peeled off, especially the area near the basins. Realizing the urgency of fixing this problem, the volunteers started to work immediately.
These young volunteers may not have experience in repairing a house, but they have a passionate heart to serve. Even when their clothes were stained with paint, they never stopped to clean it or to rest. “We want a perfect ceiling! We hope to bring Grandpa and Grandma Chan a safe place to live and they no longer need any plastic bag shields for cooking…As a first time handyman, I think the renovation work is not as difficult as I expected,” said one of the volunteers. Grandma Chan smiled and joked, “Youngsters don’t like doing housework at home. It is not easy for them to help us. Thank you, everyone!”
The couple lives with their granddaughter, who is attending secondary school. They could not help worrying about their granddaughter’s future. Jonathan, one of our volunteers studying in Toronto, comforted them, “I haven’t planned for my future, either.” The couple felt better after talking to the volunteers about their concerns and looked forward to a brand-new ceiling.
After four hours of hard work, the student volunteers made the kitchen and toilet ceilings smooth and anew in a soft white colour that greatly brightens the house. We are glad to receive the couple’s thank-you letter a few days after the renovation took place. Grandpa Chan wrote, “We are touched that the long time “dusting” problem gets solved.” Grandpa and Grandma Chan can now enjoy meals happily with their granddaughter in a clean and comfortable home. It’s worth all the time and sweat, and we are grateful to have the chance to learn how to serve and love.