Heartbeat: The night's residents

Heartbeat: The night's residents

Hong Kong is well known for its night skyline. But every night beside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, you can find lines of street sleepers. In March, I had a two-month service assignment that I never thought I would do – helping street sleepers. But thanks to a compulsory trip for school, I had the chance to know more about Hong Kong street sleepers and find out if they are really as dangerous as they are labelled.

Our volunteer work mostly consisted of delivering dinners to them. During those two months, I met many people who had influenced my life. One of them was a street-sleeper named Chueng. He had been homeless for more than a decade and had several police records involving drug abuse. Last year his life had changed, as he showed faith and hope, and found a home.

The wrinkles in Chueng’s hands already tell the painful experience he had been through, but instead of holding onto his dark past, he decide to share his experience with everyone to prove to other street sleepers and drug takers that changing their lives is not impossible.

Talking to Chueng made me realise the hopeless situations of the street sleepers. Just a year ago, all of his belongings on the street were dumped by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. He and a few other street sleepers sought help from social workers and even tried to sue the government, but there wasn’t enough money to move ahead. Luckily, with a social worker’s help, Chueng received a place in a public housing estate after years on the waiting list.

In the darkest days of Chueng’s life, he said he met a man who helped him to buy his basic needs and introduced him to God. For once in his life, he felt cared for and decided to change his life. It was hard, but a year on, he believed hope had finally entered his life. All it took was just a little care from us to change a man's life. So thankful is he that he now volunteers to help the street sleepers every night. “People helped me before,” he said, “and now it’s my turn to help those in need..”

Another street sleeper also inspired me a lot. He never had a proper home for his entire life, but he says he’s very blessed because he lives in the hands of God. “Every day when I wake up, I thank God,” he says. “Even though it may be one of my worst days, God gave me health to walk and strength to live. I am very thankful for what I have. Thank God!"

As the Chinese idiom says: “Growing up in happiness, one often fails to appreciate what happiness really means.” As the lucky ones in society, we should learn from the street sleepers’ attitude. We may have all the latest gadgets, but do we have happiness deep inside us?”

We who know good fortune should lend a hand to the street sleepers by not discriminating against them. We can also donate some men’s clothing and old mobile phones to charities such as the Society for Community Organisation of Hong Kong that help the homeless to find jobs and offer them retraining programmes.

Care more, love more. All of us can contribute to change something in society.

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