Hong Kong: the city of wealth… or a city for the wealthy? This is a city which many of us call ‘home’, unfortunately, many of us do not realise how privileged we are to have one. With one in seven people living in Hong Kong being officially declared to fall under the poverty line (as of 2018(1)), the city’s housing crisis mercilessly continues to exploit the disadvantaged.
Canadian-born English teacher, Jeff Rotmeyer, is the founder of the non-profit organisation ImpactHK. Rotmeyer, along with his 5,000 volunteers, aims to make a positive change in the local community by raising awareness of the homeless situation in Hong Kong. After moving to Hong Kong in 2006, Rotmeyer was soon exposed to the city’s poverty stricken side, thus in 2017, ImpactHK was born. In these three years, ImpactHK has already raised approximately HK$15.5 million, all of which has gone directly into providing housing, work, and food for the homeless.
Despite these acts of selflessness, the homeless situation in Hong Kong is far from solved. There were 1,270 registered homeless at the start of 2019 (according LegCo research(2)), but this number is far from the full story. Out of all the individuals ImpactHK helped last year, less than 20 per cent of them were officially registered and included in this LegCo report, and with the outbreak of the global pandemic, the already optimistic figure of 1,270 is bound to rise. At a time of such unprecedented havoc and devastation, individual contribution to this altruistic cause has never been of greater importance.
This is precisely the reason why a group of Year 12 students have decided to take up the reigns of the annual STC Impact project, in an attempt to use kindness as a vehicle to drive communal change. Working closely alongside the team at ImpactHK, STC Impact raises both awareness and money for this significant cause. The money raised is directly used to aid the underprivileged members of our society, ensuring each individual contribution makes an immediate impact. As well as raising awareness and financial help for the homeless problem in Hong Kong, the STC Impact team also aims to publicise and promote an activity known as ‘Kindness Walks’.
This is perhaps what ImpactHK is most well-known for, an event of immense popularity that has also gained great respect from the Hong Kong public. This vast popularity is no exception at Sha Tin College. These voluntary walks provide supplies and daily necessities, such as masks, food, and clothing, to the homeless around our local vicinity. While these walks can be completed as a one-off event, many participants find themselves eager to return, adding these walks into part of their regular routine and thereby building trust and friendship to the faces that become a familiarity. This view was expressed by Trevor Chan of 12P1, who stated that ‘the ability to watch the journey of someone rise from a phase of hopelessness to a period of restoration and hope is one of the most rewarding and warming experiences that I have so far experienced’. While Cendrick Yu (12D1) added that ‘going with my group of friends added a lot of enjoyment to a cause with so much meaning’.
As the festive season approaches and the weather gets colder, why not warm yourself up with the giving of the infinite gift called kindness? Kindness matters.
By Benjamin Tandy Ortega (12P1)
Copy edited by Rachel Chan (12D2)
(1)“”Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2018″ published.” 13 Dec. 2019, https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201912/13/P2019121300605.htm. Accessed 6 Dec. 2020.
(2)“Coronavirus: Hong Kong’s homeless ‘McRefugees’ scramble for places to stay as McDonald’s axes dine-in services in evening to help fight pandemic.” 24 March 2020,
https://today.line.me/hk/v2/article/E1yV1R. Accessed 6 Dec. 2020.