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By So Mei Chi

Translated by Stacy Mosher

 

The Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres has been weaving a tight-knit interpersonal network of women’s community organisations in the Northern District since 2014, providing mutual support in good times and bad, and encouraging women to make best use of their hidden talents.

 

 


 

Seeing women in Northern District

 

Moon Chan, service supervisor at the Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres since 2013, works at Tai Wo Estate. She observed an unusual phenomenon: Although the centre is located in Tai Po, many participants were coming all the way from Northern District. She and two social workers began making trips to Fanling twice a week for several weeks, observing the crowded markets and bus stops to draw up profiles of the women there – young women caring for children, middle-aged women busily looking after their husbands, mature women accompanying their parents to see the doctor, all of them shouldering heavy caregiving burdens. The more they learnt, the more they came to realise: “Here, many local women aged fifty and older have spent most of their lives looking after their families. They lack agency and goals for the future and even feel lost. There are also new immigrants in cross-border marriages who often find themselves fighting a lonely battle.”

 

In truth, these problems are not limited to Northern District, but served as a sharp reminder to the team of the need for services among local women. In 2014, the Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres drafted a plan and was awarded a grant from the Fu Tak Iam Foundation to set up the Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network to intervene in the lives of these women through community development.

 

“The typical social welfare organisation aims at meeting requests for assistance and providing support through social workers, but these interventions do not occur until women encounter problems, and their social cost is rather high. We establish mutual aid networks that allow women to support each other. This method is both preventative and empowering.”

 


 

Weaving a net of mutual support

 

Moon Chan points out that many of the women’s activities organised by mainstream subsidised groups, such as parenthood training at family services centres and elder care training at elderly centres, focus on the people that women take care of rather than the needs of the women themselves. The Federation of Women’s Centres uses street questionnaires to identify women in the district whose pressure indexes are relatively high and organises activities to meet their needs. Even more importantly, attending courses is not the final stop. During the activities, social workers strategically encourage participants to establish ties, so that classmates who had never met before become sisters who provide each other with mutual support, weaving a close net of relationships in the community.

 

“This strategy opens up an endless stream of resources.” The resources she refers to are not material, but rather are the hidden talents of the women themselves. The organisation has designed an activity called “Mutual learning and appreciation,” which is led by the women themselves and allows them to share their talents with each other; eventually, it was decided to branch out with a Women’s Market to spread this energy throughout the community. “All of them experience enhanced self-image and confidence. They better understand how to look after their own health and make lots of friends. All they lack is an arena for self-expression, where they can play up their strengths and contribute to the community.”

 


 

Women’s Market: No buying and selling, but sharing

 

The “Knowledge – Creativity – Life” market has nothing to buy, only women sharing and exchanging their specialised knowledge and life wisdom. Someone teaches Dodgebee, and someone leads laughing yoga. There are environmentally friendly handicrafts and secret recipes for caregivers... “The residents who come really enjoy it, and the women are thrilled to put their talents to use. This is the most direct way to build confidence, and the altruistic feeling it generates also encourages more people to join in.”

 

Picture 1: No buying and selling, but only sharing at the “Knowledge – Creativity – Life” market

 

Social workers take on the planning role, including reserving a venue, negotiating with production companies, publicity and so on. The four to eight booths that exhibit each time are designed, planned, run and critiqued by the women themselves. The market has been organised eight times, making the rounds of streets and lanes, and local residents have gradually become familiar with it, raising the profile of the Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network in the community.

 

This network, begun from scratch by a service supervisor and two registered social workers, now has more than 300 members, including more than fifty core leaders. Put simply, that is one in six of the women requested for help turned into a helper. How do they manage it?

 


 

Unleashing women’s talents

 

“After becoming a supervisor, I began looking at the qualities of my colleagues from another angle: establishing relationships on a basis of sincerity and equality that leads women to unburden themselves; being really tuned in and asking the right questions, and accurately assessing women’s actual needs so they can hit the mark. For example, my colleagues observed that quite a few women worry about living from hand to mouth, so they arranged for a financial planning workshop instead of following the same old path to organise fitness classes and tours. Gradually, women develop feelings of belonging to the network and are naturally willing to contribute by helping others.”

 

“We offer peer volunteer training, teaching women to run activities in the same way that we teach new social workers, and accumulating a rich variety of roles for the network – women who are good at administration help reserve venues and tour buses; those with leadership abilities take responsibility for leading the new people. One time, we offered a laughing yoga course, and one of the women who took the course felt she could also teach others. She got an instructor’s certificate and came back and held classes!”

 

Moon Chan still has a deep impression of the women who took part in the first Body Mind Spirit Health Programme several years ago. “Back then, all of them were dejected and listless. Some had been suffering from insomnia for a long time but were not motivated to get medical help; they felt, ‘That is just how things are for women.’ Some complained about always being bored, never imagining that they could have a new life in their 40s or 50s. Eventually, all of them became core members and met frequently, establishing small group resilience. Whenever someone ran off, other sisters would immediately ‘blow the whistle’ and spend all night talking in someone’s home. Hong Kong has been gloomy recently, with everyone in search of surgical masks, and some women brought out their private stock to share with others. Without a network, these things might not happen in the community.”

 

The Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres is preparing its plan for the next three years, hoping to use an even greater diversity of methods to expand services to Fanling – for example, team sports like women’s football and Dodgebee unearth women’s latent abilities while also promoting mutual assistance.

 

“Hong Kong is a constantly changing society, and if people do not go to work for three months, they feel out of touch, not to mention women who stay at home for twenty years or more after they get married and have children. They were great when they were young, but all they lack is a push and an opportunity. The way I see it, this network is a platform for them to be the best they can be.”

 

Ding-dong: Happiness is contagious

 

Yoyo, nicknamed “Ding-dong,” joined the Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network activities at its first stage, making her a “pioneer.” Her children were all grown, and she had had her first taste of empty nest syndrome. Social workers say that she looked a little lost back then. She had plenty of enthusiasm, but no focus. Now she is the leader of network activities to “Mutual learning and appreciation,” and is constantly looking into all kinds of handicraft projects with other women.

 

“When I was young, I did sewing and packaging, but later I had to look after my mother-in-law, so I could only work part time. Once my daughter went out to work and my son went off to college, I became really bored at home."

 

“When I first got to know them [the Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres social workers] at Tai Wo Centre, I learnt dog grooming. In fact, I do not have a dog, but I like animals, and I had not found anything I liked, so I loved going to classes at various centres. Later a social worker asked me to help with Health Day. It was on a very small scale, but there were not enough volunteers. Several other sisters and I handed out questionnaires on the street and helping others gave us a feeling of togetherness. We could talk about life, and that was comforting.”

 

“I like doing handicrafts, and when I find out where I can buy supplies, I take the other sisters along with me. The first time I held a class, I was really nervous, but I spent a lot of time planning it, and I hoped that apart from making it simple, people would be able to take something away with them and have fun. I taught some sisters in advance and asked them to help out with the class and did some half-finished projects so people could understand better. The response was really good. The handicraft was fast, pretty and fun, and the sisters appreciated my clear instructions. After doing it once, I had the courage to do it again.”

 

“I especially remember one time when we held the Market, I taught neighbourhood residents how to make decorations with hot glue. It was so popular that sisters at the other booths came over to help control the flow. Once people got started, they did not want to leave, and I hardly had time to eat lunch. One time, I taught how to fold bookmarks, and a sister later told me that her children loved theirs so much that they would not toss it out even after it was torn. I told her to encourage her children to become little teachers and teach their classmates origami or make something as a gift for their teachers. The children wanted their mum to learn some new projects from me, and that really motivated me. I would learn something and then pass it on, and it made happiness contagious.”

 

“I started volunteering to enjoy myself and never guess I would end up doing so much. Now apart from taking part in the Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network, I also visit elderly people for another organisation. The old people are always happy to see me, and that communication is another kind of learning.”

 

“What is good about having sisters in the community? One time I was feeling unwell, so I telephoned the centre, and a sister brought some food over for me. I just have to say something and I can get help. It is like when I was young, when as soon as I opened the door, I knew everyone up and down the street, and if anything happened, I just had to ‘blow the whistle.’ Once I grew up, the community did not have those kinds of neighbourly relationships anymore. The Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network brings all those memories back, and there are no ulterior motives of always looking for payback. It gives a feeling of security.”

 

Picture 2: Ding-dong (middle) and sisters

Picture 3:”It turns out that learning can be passed on one by one,” said Ding-dong

 

Ah-Kam: There is always a way out

 

Ah-Kam, a recent immigrant from mainland China, has a son in nursery school. Lonely and treated with bias, she suffered from depression and was afraid to leave home, cutting herself off from society. Now she is a part-time secretary at the Federation of Women’s Centres and has revived her interest and courage for backpacking.

 

“I used to be a tour guide in Mainland China and was always leading tours to Southeast Asia. That is how I met my husband. We got married in 2010, and after that I gave up my job and came to Hong Kong. But my husband only came home once every two months. I was left on my own in an unfamiliar place with no friends or relatives, and I did not know my neighbours. Gradually I became depressed. My son was born in 2015, and while I was pregnant my mood improved, but after he was born, I suffered a relapse.

 

“It was not easy for me to have a child, and I treasure him and am inseparable from him, so I took medicine and looked after him on my own. Once he started going to nursery school, I finally had time to look for work, and a social worker from the Social Welfare Department recommended that I join activities at the women’s centre. At first, I did not understand what having a cup of coffee with other women had to do with looking for a job. The first person to greet me was Jennifer [who has since retired], and before I knew it, I had spent two hours talking to her. She knew I was looking for a job and recommended that I volunteer first so I could get used to the outside world.

 

“With her encouragement, I spent two hours every other day doing administrative work at the centre. I really enjoyed it because everyone was willing to teach me. I also got to know a lot of other women, and we really related to each other, and I learnt that a lot of people were worse off than me.

 

“I most remember my birthday in 2018, which happened to coincide with an activity at a coffee shop. A big group of people surprised me with a cake, and I was really moved. Ah-Yan [a social worker at the centre] told me to make three wishes, and I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to hope for a long time, but now I could...

 

“I hoped my son would be healthy and not autistic;

 

“I like being a tour guide. I hoped I would have an opportunity to travel again and help people enjoy themselves;

 

“I hoped I could travel on my own again; I used to go hiking all the time, but after getting married and having a child, I forgot myself.

 

“Ah-Yan told me: ‘Go for it! You will make it happen!’

 

“To my surprise, I soon got my first wish. When my son first started nursery school, the teacher recommended that I take him to be evaluated. She worried that he was autistic because he never talked and seemed to resist nursery school. Later when I started volunteering, I brought him along to play with other women’s children, and soon after the new semester began, his teacher told me: Your son has become another person. He is very willing to play with other children. You do not have to worry about him being autistic. That is when I realised what the problem was – I had always kept my son locked up at home and never let him out. So now I make a point of taking him out.

 

“Soon after that, Ah-Yan invited me to share my experiences as a tour guide. I was afraid and cannot stop collecting material, but in the process, I gradually remembered that I had gone to a lot of places and knew a lot of things that I had somehow forgotten. Finally, I chose to share my experience in Tibet and Yunnan, which I had really enjoyed. At first, I stammered a little, but then things went smoothly. The other women were very curious and asked a lot of questions, and they asked me when I would hold another class. I was really proud; it was like back when I was holding the microphone on a tour bus.

 

“I suddenly got a crazy idea – why not plan a tour for myself? I asked my parents back home if they would look after my son, and my mum answered, “I will help you!” It turned out she was always willing, but I had just never spoke up. At that moment, I was so moved that I cried.

 

“That tour was less than two weeks long, but it built up my nerve – after all, I had closed myself off for years and did not know how much things had changed outside, and it was my first time entrusting my son to someone else. I hiked to a secluded village and found it very enlightening. People there were so poor, but they were always happy. Why did I feel under so much pressure? I recorded all my experiences so I could share them with others later.

 

“It seems like all my wishes were granted at once, all because of this centre and a few words from Ah-Yan.”

 

“Eventually the centre had a hiring vacancy, and I successfully applied for it. Although it is nothing like the tourism industry, I love to learn, and going to work every day makes me feel alive. I have been able to reduce the dosage of the medication I have been taking for years. I have made a big change from someone receiving help to becoming a volunteer. Later when women came to me crying about their problems, I felt like I had taken on Jennifer’s role – listening to my sisters and sharing their cares and burdens.

 

“I hope I can hold more classes in the future and give women more information, encourage them to go out and not just sit around and daydream.”

 

“There is always a way out, because there is a road in front of us.”

 

Picture 4: Ah Kam gave out special gifts from Yunnan to the sisters of the tour class.

Picture 5: Ah Kam (second from the Right) in the tour class

 


 

Case Profile

 

 

By So Mei Chi

Translated by Stacy Mosher

 

The Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres has been weaving a tight-knit interpersonal network of women’s community organisations in the Northern District since 2014, providing mutual support in good times and bad, and encouraging women to make best use of their hidden talents.

 

 


 

Seeing women in Northern District

 

Moon Chan, service supervisor at the Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres since 2013, works at Tai Wo Estate. She observed an unusual phenomenon: Although the centre is located in Tai Po, many participants were coming all the way from Northern District. She and two social workers began making trips to Fanling twice a week for several weeks, observing the crowded markets and bus stops to draw up profiles of the women there – young women caring for children, middle-aged women busily looking after their husbands, mature women accompanying their parents to see the doctor, all of them shouldering heavy caregiving burdens. The more they learnt, the more they came to realise: “Here, many local women aged fifty and older have spent most of their lives looking after their families. They lack agency and goals for the future and even feel lost. There are also new immigrants in cross-border marriages who often find themselves fighting a lonely battle.”

 

In truth, these problems are not limited to Northern District, but served as a sharp reminder to the team of the need for services among local women. In 2014, the Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres drafted a plan and was awarded a grant from the Fu Tak Iam Foundation to set up the Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network to intervene in the lives of these women through community development.

 

“The typical social welfare organisation aims at meeting requests for assistance and providing support through social workers, but these interventions do not occur until women encounter problems, and their social cost is rather high. We establish mutual aid networks that allow women to support each other. This method is both preventative and empowering.”

 


 

Weaving a net of mutual support

 

Moon Chan points out that many of the women’s activities organised by mainstream subsidised groups, such as parenthood training at family services centres and elder care training at elderly centres, focus on the people that women take care of rather than the needs of the women themselves. The Federation of Women’s Centres uses street questionnaires to identify women in the district whose pressure indexes are relatively high and organises activities to meet their needs. Even more importantly, attending courses is not the final stop. During the activities, social workers strategically encourage participants to establish ties, so that classmates who had never met before become sisters who provide each other with mutual support, weaving a close net of relationships in the community.

 

“This strategy opens up an endless stream of resources.” The resources she refers to are not material, but rather are the hidden talents of the women themselves. The organisation has designed an activity called “Mutual learning and appreciation,” which is led by the women themselves and allows them to share their talents with each other; eventually, it was decided to branch out with a Women’s Market to spread this energy throughout the community. “All of them experience enhanced self-image and confidence. They better understand how to look after their own health and make lots of friends. All they lack is an arena for self-expression, where they can play up their strengths and contribute to the community.”

 


 

Women’s Market: No buying and selling, but sharing

 

The “Knowledge – Creativity – Life” market has nothing to buy, only women sharing and exchanging their specialised knowledge and life wisdom. Someone teaches Dodgebee, and someone leads laughing yoga. There are environmentally friendly handicrafts and secret recipes for caregivers... “The residents who come really enjoy it, and the women are thrilled to put their talents to use. This is the most direct way to build confidence, and the altruistic feeling it generates also encourages more people to join in.”

 

Picture 1: No buying and selling, but only sharing at the “Knowledge – Creativity – Life” market

 

Social workers take on the planning role, including reserving a venue, negotiating with production companies, publicity and so on. The four to eight booths that exhibit each time are designed, planned, run and critiqued by the women themselves. The market has been organised eight times, making the rounds of streets and lanes, and local residents have gradually become familiar with it, raising the profile of the Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network in the community.

 

This network, begun from scratch by a service supervisor and two registered social workers, now has more than 300 members, including more than fifty core leaders. Put simply, that is one in six of the women requested for help turned into a helper. How do they manage it?

 


 

Unleashing women’s talents

 

“After becoming a supervisor, I began looking at the qualities of my colleagues from another angle: establishing relationships on a basis of sincerity and equality that leads women to unburden themselves; being really tuned in and asking the right questions, and accurately assessing women’s actual needs so they can hit the mark. For example, my colleagues observed that quite a few women worry about living from hand to mouth, so they arranged for a financial planning workshop instead of following the same old path to organise fitness classes and tours. Gradually, women develop feelings of belonging to the network and are naturally willing to contribute by helping others.”

 

“We offer peer volunteer training, teaching women to run activities in the same way that we teach new social workers, and accumulating a rich variety of roles for the network – women who are good at administration help reserve venues and tour buses; those with leadership abilities take responsibility for leading the new people. One time, we offered a laughing yoga course, and one of the women who took the course felt she could also teach others. She got an instructor’s certificate and came back and held classes!”

 

Moon Chan still has a deep impression of the women who took part in the first Body Mind Spirit Health Programme several years ago. “Back then, all of them were dejected and listless. Some had been suffering from insomnia for a long time but were not motivated to get medical help; they felt, ‘That is just how things are for women.’ Some complained about always being bored, never imagining that they could have a new life in their 40s or 50s. Eventually, all of them became core members and met frequently, establishing small group resilience. Whenever someone ran off, other sisters would immediately ‘blow the whistle’ and spend all night talking in someone’s home. Hong Kong has been gloomy recently, with everyone in search of surgical masks, and some women brought out their private stock to share with others. Without a network, these things might not happen in the community.”

 

The Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres is preparing its plan for the next three years, hoping to use an even greater diversity of methods to expand services to Fanling – for example, team sports like women’s football and Dodgebee unearth women’s latent abilities while also promoting mutual assistance.

 

“Hong Kong is a constantly changing society, and if people do not go to work for three months, they feel out of touch, not to mention women who stay at home for twenty years or more after they get married and have children. They were great when they were young, but all they lack is a push and an opportunity. The way I see it, this network is a platform for them to be the best they can be.”

 

Ding-dong: Happiness is contagious

 

Yoyo, nicknamed “Ding-dong,” joined the Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network activities at its first stage, making her a “pioneer.” Her children were all grown, and she had had her first taste of empty nest syndrome. Social workers say that she looked a little lost back then. She had plenty of enthusiasm, but no focus. Now she is the leader of network activities to “Mutual learning and appreciation,” and is constantly looking into all kinds of handicraft projects with other women.

 

“When I was young, I did sewing and packaging, but later I had to look after my mother-in-law, so I could only work part time. Once my daughter went out to work and my son went off to college, I became really bored at home."

 

“When I first got to know them [the Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centres social workers] at Tai Wo Centre, I learnt dog grooming. In fact, I do not have a dog, but I like animals, and I had not found anything I liked, so I loved going to classes at various centres. Later a social worker asked me to help with Health Day. It was on a very small scale, but there were not enough volunteers. Several other sisters and I handed out questionnaires on the street and helping others gave us a feeling of togetherness. We could talk about life, and that was comforting.”

 

“I like doing handicrafts, and when I find out where I can buy supplies, I take the other sisters along with me. The first time I held a class, I was really nervous, but I spent a lot of time planning it, and I hoped that apart from making it simple, people would be able to take something away with them and have fun. I taught some sisters in advance and asked them to help out with the class and did some half-finished projects so people could understand better. The response was really good. The handicraft was fast, pretty and fun, and the sisters appreciated my clear instructions. After doing it once, I had the courage to do it again.”

 

“I especially remember one time when we held the Market, I taught neighbourhood residents how to make decorations with hot glue. It was so popular that sisters at the other booths came over to help control the flow. Once people got started, they did not want to leave, and I hardly had time to eat lunch. One time, I taught how to fold bookmarks, and a sister later told me that her children loved theirs so much that they would not toss it out even after it was torn. I told her to encourage her children to become little teachers and teach their classmates origami or make something as a gift for their teachers. The children wanted their mum to learn some new projects from me, and that really motivated me. I would learn something and then pass it on, and it made happiness contagious.”

 

“I started volunteering to enjoy myself and never guess I would end up doing so much. Now apart from taking part in the Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network, I also visit elderly people for another organisation. The old people are always happy to see me, and that communication is another kind of learning.”

 

“What is good about having sisters in the community? One time I was feeling unwell, so I telephoned the centre, and a sister brought some food over for me. I just have to say something and I can get help. It is like when I was young, when as soon as I opened the door, I knew everyone up and down the street, and if anything happened, I just had to ‘blow the whistle.’ Once I grew up, the community did not have those kinds of neighbourly relationships anymore. The Wah Ming Caregivers Support Network brings all those memories back, and there are no ulterior motives of always looking for payback. It gives a feeling of security.”

 

Picture 2: Ding-dong (middle) and sisters

Picture 3:”It turns out that learning can be passed on one by one,” said Ding-dong

 

Ah-Kam: There is always a way out

 

Ah-Kam, a recent immigrant from mainland China, has a son in nursery school. Lonely and treated with bias, she suffered from depression and was afraid to leave home, cutting herself off from society. Now she is a part-time secretary at the Federation of Women’s Centres and has revived her interest and courage for backpacking.

 

“I used to be a tour guide in Mainland China and was always leading tours to Southeast Asia. That is how I met my husband. We got married in 2010, and after that I gave up my job and came to Hong Kong. But my husband only came home once every two months. I was left on my own in an unfamiliar place with no friends or relatives, and I did not know my neighbours. Gradually I became depressed. My son was born in 2015, and while I was pregnant my mood improved, but after he was born, I suffered a relapse.

 

“It was not easy for me to have a child, and I treasure him and am inseparable from him, so I took medicine and looked after him on my own. Once he started going to nursery school, I finally had time to look for work, and a social worker from the Social Welfare Department recommended that I join activities at the women’s centre. At first, I did not understand what having a cup of coffee with other women had to do with looking for a job. The first person to greet me was Jennifer [who has since retired], and before I knew it, I had spent two hours talking to her. She knew I was looking for a job and recommended that I volunteer first so I could get used to the outside world.

 

“With her encouragement, I spent two hours every other day doing administrative work at the centre. I really enjoyed it because everyone was willing to teach me. I also got to know a lot of other women, and we really related to each other, and I learnt that a lot of people were worse off than me.

 

“I most remember my birthday in 2018, which happened to coincide with an activity at a coffee shop. A big group of people surprised me with a cake, and I was really moved. Ah-Yan [a social worker at the centre] told me to make three wishes, and I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to hope for a long time, but now I could...

 

“I hoped my son would be healthy and not autistic;

 

“I like being a tour guide. I hoped I would have an opportunity to travel again and help people enjoy themselves;

 

“I hoped I could travel on my own again; I used to go hiking all the time, but after getting married and having a child, I forgot myself.

 

“Ah-Yan told me: ‘Go for it! You will make it happen!’

 

“To my surprise, I soon got my first wish. When my son first started nursery school, the teacher recommended that I take him to be evaluated. She worried that he was autistic because he never talked and seemed to resist nursery school. Later when I started volunteering, I brought him along to play with other women’s children, and soon after the new semester began, his teacher told me: Your son has become another person. He is very willing to play with other children. You do not have to worry about him being autistic. That is when I realised what the problem was – I had always kept my son locked up at home and never let him out. So now I make a point of taking him out.

 

“Soon after that, Ah-Yan invited me to share my experiences as a tour guide. I was afraid and cannot stop collecting material, but in the process, I gradually remembered that I had gone to a lot of places and knew a lot of things that I had somehow forgotten. Finally, I chose to share my experience in Tibet and Yunnan, which I had really enjoyed. At first, I stammered a little, but then things went smoothly. The other women were very curious and asked a lot of questions, and they asked me when I would hold another class. I was really proud; it was like back when I was holding the microphone on a tour bus.

 

“I suddenly got a crazy idea – why not plan a tour for myself? I asked my parents back home if they would look after my son, and my mum answered, “I will help you!” It turned out she was always willing, but I had just never spoke up. At that moment, I was so moved that I cried.

 

“That tour was less than two weeks long, but it built up my nerve – after all, I had closed myself off for years and did not know how much things had changed outside, and it was my first time entrusting my son to someone else. I hiked to a secluded village and found it very enlightening. People there were so poor, but they were always happy. Why did I feel under so much pressure? I recorded all my experiences so I could share them with others later.

 

“It seems like all my wishes were granted at once, all because of this centre and a few words from Ah-Yan.”

 

“Eventually the centre had a hiring vacancy, and I successfully applied for it. Although it is nothing like the tourism industry, I love to learn, and going to work every day makes me feel alive. I have been able to reduce the dosage of the medication I have been taking for years. I have made a big change from someone receiving help to becoming a volunteer. Later when women came to me crying about their problems, I felt like I had taken on Jennifer’s role – listening to my sisters and sharing their cares and burdens.

 

“I hope I can hold more classes in the future and give women more information, encourage them to go out and not just sit around and daydream.”

 

“There is always a way out, because there is a road in front of us.”

 

Picture 4: Ah Kam gave out special gifts from Yunnan to the sisters of the tour class.

Picture 5: Ah Kam (second from the Right) in the tour class

 


 

Case Profile