Kindness Under Mangkhut–Use What You’ve Learnt From Your Workcamps

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

 George Santayana

It’s not easy to learn something new– but forgetting what you’ve learnt takes no more effort than the snap of a finger. Would you take the extra step to cherish these invaluable life lessons and hold them close to your heart and mind?

After a day fighting through broken glass and furniture, toppled lamp posts and trees, as well as crowds of resentful people throwing all profanities they’ve learned in their lifetime to the staff of public transport, I had to check my eyes to ensure what I was seeing was in fact true. Never have I thought I would witness Hong Kong in such a near-apocalyptic state.

While urban people spent their weekends busily put crosses or words on their glass windows, panicking whether wind would break the glass into shreds as their children prayed Mangkhut hits hard so there would be no school, residents in Tai O, the lovely place where I just came back from a week ago, have a lot more to worry about.

Despite having stayed there for merely three days, my bond with the closely-knit community and serene atmosphere was far stronger than I thought it was. Over the weekend, I paid particular attention to the whatever occured in Tai O– each time the clip showing shops there were submerged in water, destroying refrigerators and electrical appliances locals use to sustain their living despite valiant efforts, my heart sunk deeper and deeper into an endless sea of sorrow.

Water engulfing everything in sight. (Credits to Kwok sir!)

Luckily, Tai O Fei Mao Li, the non-governmental artisan organization we’ve collaborated with, sent out a distress signal for help early on knowing the calamitous impacts a typhoon of Mangkhut’s caliber can induce. Sure enough, over 40 volunteers, some of which helped out at Tai O last weekend besides me, plucked up their courage and helped the residents minimize the damages the foreseeable winds and floods would cause to the region on Saturday, right before the typhoon made its roaring entrance. Had I not committed to the project in Ping Che, no doubt I would have been one of the volunteers carrying the massive sandbags on my back and stacking them in place to avoid water from deluging the house.

Call to action in Tai O! (Credits to Douglas)

As photos surfacing the day after the typhoon left show, Tai O residents have quickly united with other volunteers to quickly tie up the loose ends and ensure it would be fit to celebrate the ensuing Mid-Autumn Festival. By today, nearly everything is back to order. What amazing news!

On its way back to normal! (Credits to Douglas)

“Accept what we can’t change, change what we can’t accept” While I accept only the latter half of such motto from Bird, one of VolTra’s founders, this has certainly influenced me at my core: it taught me change isn’t something exclusive to a privileged few: change doesn’t have to come about only after paying for exorbitant plane tickets, taking a few weeks off your job, carrying a colossal luggage to a faraway region, preferably a poverty-struck African one, nor does every change we bring have to influence the locals like how Moses opened up the red sea for the Israelian refugees. The greatest lesson from workcamps is kindness and sympathy can exist anywhere, taking form in any kinds of ways. To some, it may be rushing to Tai O and assist the locals by moving their furniture to higher ground; to others, it may be delivering care to elderly in Nursing Homes by orchestrating a Fire Dragon Dance: anyone can be a recipient of another’s kindness of any magnitude at any time.

“Be the change you want to see in this world!” — Mahatma Gandhi

Only by keeping this in mind would we prevent our sweat and hard work across the world degenerate into mere boastful tales amongst friends at the dinner table. 

P.S. Kudos to all which helped minimize the damages or managed the disastrous aftermath of the typhoon.

Some references:

Tai O Fei Mao Li’s Site

港男創辦義工旅遊網站 用同理心去理解當地人  2017/06/23

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s