On November 26, our Club met for lunch at our usual meeting venue, Regal Hong Kong Hotel. To ensure proper social distancing, Regal gave us a large room, with 4-person tables separated by ample spaces.
Our speaker of the day was Ms. Monica Li, senior social work supervisor at Caritas Ngau Tau Kok. She came to our Club meeting to give a summary of the execution of our joint project: Rotary Cares Food Aid 2020 (疫下關懷送暖行動). In a nutshell, the project provided financial relief to over 200 families, in Ngau Tau Kok/Kwun Tong area, in the form of food coupons which can be redeemed at local merchants in their community. The financial relief aimed not only to lessen pandemic’s impact to the savings of grassroots families, but also to support local merchants deeply affected by economic slowdown. Caritas took due care to select families most affected by the pandemic, including families with no constant income, large families with many children to support, families living in subdivided housing and/or rooftop housing etc. The selection process was finely granular, on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that those who needed help the most would get priority.
Ms. Li shared anecdotes from beneficiaries, including one boy who was ecstatic to see a different type of protein for the first time in months, thanks to the food coupons which enabled his mother to purchase some shrimp, if only for one dinner. “A bit of sweetness in a sea of hardship (苦中一點甜)” was the endearing response from another beneficiary family. Yet another anecdote came from a local merchant whose sales dwindled as the pandemic raged on, but was thrilled to see new customers as he began accepting food coupons sponsored by our Club. He even offered to give out extra items, free of charge, as a way to give back to the community. Ms. Li said that the project was well received within Caritas and is being offered as a model for future projects in other neighborhoods in Hong Kong. As much as Ms. Li was grateful for our Club’s support, members in attendance were grateful for her and her team’s work in the community.