Over the course of April, the Heep Yunn School’s (HYS) basketball team each took turns going without at least one meal a day in support of the World Vision Hong Kong’s Famine 30 campaign. The team did this to raise public awareness of the severe food crises in Africa.
According to World Vision Hong Kong, at least 800 million people in the world – that’s one person for every nine out there – go to bed on an empty stomach every night. In South Sudan, famine was declared in January thanks to a civil war that has been going on there.
A total of 44 athletes took part in the Famine 30 campaign and experienced for themselves what it feels like to go hungry. Their “famine relay” raised HK$7,400, which will go towards World Vision projects in African countries, such as South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Somalia, to provide food, health care, nutrition and livelihood assistance to the needy.
Although the HYS basketball team has been a dominating force in many inter-school competitions in recent years, they said their part in the campaign was not an easy one. Team captain Sandy Tsui Wing-yu, 16, said skipping a meal a day was hard.
“Not eating breakfast was hard. I always eat rice or noodles in the morning, and that gives me the energy I need to play basketball. Without it, I found I couldn’t shoot or pass a ball accurately,” she said.
Instead of eating, Sandy drank lots of water to fill her stomach up. “I couldn’t believe how hungry I was.” Thanks to this campaign, Sandy said that she is much more appreciative of living in a city that has enough food and clean water for its citizens. “We should treasure what we have,” she added.
Dora Yum, the team’s coach, said her team put in a lot of time and effort into this campaign, which was great to see. She added that many young people in Hong Kong tend to grow up in comfortable conditions – most have never had to deal with starvation or extreme poverty.
“I want my students to care about more than just basketball and studying – I want them to care about what’s going on in the rest of the world, and to feel empathy for people they don’t know.”