Form Five student Fok Ching-fung has seen a lot of the city in his 17 years. “I can’t say I’ve lived in all 18 districts of Hong Kong, but I’m certainly ‘well-travelled’,” he says.
When Ching-fung was just one week old, his mother gave him up. She dropped off the baby boy at a branch of Po Leung Kuk, the charity that provides support, education and other services for orphaned children.
“I hate my birthday,” he says. “I don’t want to be reminded of the day I was born.”
Ching-fung reunited with his family at the age of three, when his stepfather won custody of him. He vaguely remembers “going home” after half day of pre-school, but it didn’t last long. Now he simply says: “I don’t have a family.”
At four, he was abandoned once again. He was sent to a foster family in Tuen Mun, one of the seven families he would live with. These families were on short-term contracts, which means Ching-fung could only stay with them for six to nine months before he would have to move out of a home he was only starting to become familiar with, and into a strange new household.
“I haven’t done anything wrong, why do I have to move out?” the little Ching-fung used to think.
At Primary Two, he got into a children’s home in Tin Shui Wai, which provided him a shelter for four years, offering Ching-fung a rare period of relative stability. “I was the youngest child,” he recalls. “The older children were nice to me and they doted on me.”
Even today, when he gets some free time, he goes back to the home to visit the “aunties” working there, “to let them know I’m doing okay. The first thing I ever learned was respect, so I respect everyone, especially the aunties who practically raised me.”
But when Ching-fung reached Form One, just as life seemed to be going smoothly, his mother showed up and asked to take him back. Up until this point, his family had never visited him, and he always spent birthdays and festivals with the other children.
“To me, it was like a complete stranger came up to me saying she’s my mother and wants me home,” Ching-fung said. This new home lasted about a year, but he found it difficult to fit in and to adjust to family life – especially because he didn’t feel love or care from his family.
“I doubted if I belonged in the family,” he thought. “My stepfather is totally mean unless my mother is around; my mum? She barely spoke to me ... and she never told me why she gave me up or why she took me back. So what good am I?”
The tension made him eager to leave his family home in Sheung Shui. “I had this thought that the homes are where I belong,” says Ching-fung, so while waiting for his social worker to help him out, he deliberately made trouble at home so that a judge would send him to The Society Of Boys’ Centre Chak Yan Centre School in Sham Shui Po.
Although he continued studying there, he soon moved away, first to another children’s home – this time in Sai Wan Ho – then for a brief stay with relatives on his mother’s side. Now, he lives in a children’s home, his fourth.
“I really wanted a family when I was little,” says Ching-fung. Growing up, he got strange looks from teachers and was called “weirdo” by classmates when they find out that he was abandoned.
“I don’t have a home, but am I to be blamed?” he asks.
Ching-fung says there were times when he felt so alone in the world that he believed “no one could confirm that I exist. I hate people, I don’t trust anyone, I don’t even trust myself.”
On three different occasions things got so difficult times that he tried to kill himself. Luckily, he was saved by people around him, who asked him why he would want to take his own life.
“You would too, if you were born with no family, have no friend, and don’t know whether you should be living in this world,” he replied.
Last summer, Ching-fung took part in Unicef’s video day camps, where he and 59 other Hong Kong students from 11 secondary schools and youth organisations learned about video production. Under the theme of “To Mom & Dad”, Ching-fung made a one-minute video to share his experience and send a message that “every parent should cherish their children”.
In the video, Ching-fung plays himself instead of using an actor, because no one else would understand the feeling he wanted unless they had lived his life.
Despite his complicated relationship with is family, and the pain and sorrow this has caused him, in the video he says: “I still wish to be loved by my family.” Sadly, they still haven’t watched it.
His video made it to the finals in the senior secondary category of Unicef’s Make A Video contest, and while it couldn’t undo the past, it has given Ching-fung a new outlook on his life. He has made peace with himself, and has decided to let “what happens in the past stay in the past ... I will be happier leaving it behind me.”
Each Friday Young Post will bring you another story of a young Hongkonger and their one-minute video. Go to Unicef's Make A Video website to watch more!