Local students head to Sri Lanka with World Vision to help build a stronger nation

Local students head to Sri Lanka with World Vision to help build a stronger nation

YP cadets Natalie Fung and Florence Li talk to local students about their recent goodwill mission to Sri Lanka and what they learned during the trip

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Jessica Lo brings smiles to children in Sri Lanka.
Jessica Lo brings smiles to children in Sri Lanka.
Photo: World Vision Hong Kong

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The students from Hong Kong now understand more about poverty.
The students from Hong Kong now understand more about poverty.

What can you do with just a few dollars? Buy something really cheap? Stash the money? Or donate it? Well, 32 Hong Kong university students have decided to put it to good use - gather the money from ordinary people to help World Vision raise a child in Sri Lanka.

Named "Vision in Action", the year-long programme promotes the idea of a "poverty-free world" and hopes to give interested young adults an accurate view of modern poverty. It does this through a series of lectures, workshops and events like the XP Camp, which replicates the everyday life of someone living in poverty.

To help end poverty, "it is essential for us to know what poverty actually is", says Jessica Lo, a Year Three, speech and hearing sciences student at the University of Hong Kong.

After almost a year of training, the students now understand more about poverty, and realise that it's more complicated than simply being hungry and having no home.

"There are so many problems in less-developed countries," says Brian Chung, a computer science student at City University.

"For instance, child labour, sexual discrimination, hunger, to name a few."

To tackle all of these problems, World Vision funds the Area Development Programme (ADP), which works with local communities to fight issues that negatively affect children.

Over a period of about 15 years, the programme has had a significant impact on people's lives, from small things like donating a cow to a family, to something as huge as building schools and hospitals.

A quarter of the students involved with Vision in Action got a first-hand view of the ADP's work when they took part in the trip to Sri Lanka. Despite the hardships in the impoverished country, like walking for hours to reach school and carrying heavy water buckets, the volunteers were impressed by the Sri Lankans' simple, happy lifestyle.

"We asked children at one school to fold paper planes and write their dreams on them. I was surprised that despite the harsh conditions, they all had a lot of dreams and were so enthusiastic," says Chung.

On one visit, a boy eagerly said that he wanted to be an engineer. "He didn't realise that this wouldn't be possible, because walking to school each day takes so long that he misses the science classes," says Lo, with a hint of sadness.

"But after seeing how joyful Sri Lankans are, I now believe that happiness is something really simple and basic, a view that Hongkongers seem to lack," says Lo. "Happiness does not mean being rich and having lots of things."

Even though the trip lasted only a week, both Lo and Chung say it had a huge impact on them. As they reflect on their own lives, they now realise how lucky they truly are.

Recently, World Vision organised a "Stir Up", an event in which participants experienced what it's like to carry water on a daily basis in a developing country like Sri Lanka. If you wish, you can make a donation at www.worldvision.org.hk Remember: no matter how big or small the donation, every little bit helps!

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Creating a better tomorrow

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