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August 2016
Issue No. 295

Senior''s Befriending Program: Writing Life Stories” Memorable Stories Counting Blessings in Life


Elders are treasures. Although they are retired from their careers, their wisdom and experience is still influential to others. Since March, St. John’s Cathedral, HKSKH St Luke’s Settlement Neighborhood Elderly Centre and Act of Love organized a project “Senior’s Befriending Program: Writing Life Stories”. To begin with, Act of Love provided care training to the volunteers. Then, 12 volunteers, including the Revd Mark Rogers, were divided into four groups to conduct interviews with four elderly people, to know about them through the different aspects in their lives including birth, childhood, teenage, career, family and retirement. Their life stories would be published as a booklet at the end of the project.

The cooperation between the church and the elderly centre is first of its kind. Communication between the volunteers and elderly people was one of the expected challenge, as many church members of St John Cathedral are not familiar with the Chinese language. Surprisingly their communication was very smooth with hardly any barriers. Kennis Au, the Unit-in-charge of elderly centre, said, “Sincerity is the key between their communication. Although some of the volunteers cannot write Chinese, other group mates will actively act as a mediator. Besides, compared with a one-off programme, this project lasts for 3 months, so the volunteers and the elders can really build good relationship. The elderly people can feel the care and respect from the church while the volunteers also learn a lot from the elderly.”

Thanks to the effort of the volunteers and Fr. Rogers, the life story booklets were finally produced in June. All of the participants of the project gathered again to celebrate the occasion in a ceremony. Some of the family members of the elderly people were also invited. That day, the life story booklets were presented as memorabilia to the elderly. There was also a sharing session to encourage more interaction among the participants.

Ms Chow, Ms Suen, Ms Chan and Mr Ma were the protagonists in these four life stories. Their lives were not easy. Some might have suffered from illness; others might have undergone economic hardship or even war. These experiences were unimaginable for most of the volunteers. Despite their difficulties, the seniors were still positive and passionate. Such optimism deeply moved the volunteers.

Ms Chow and Ms Suen gave thanks to God. They believed that no matter the time was good or bad, there were always blessings from God. Rachel Der, one of the volunteers, was impressed by their faith. She hoped that she could also focus on God with faith, hope and love in all kinds of circumstances. “Instead of helping the elderly, I am the one who is helped by the elderly to inspect my own faith,” she said.

Also at the ceremony were Ms Chan’s son and Mr Ma’s son. They appriciated this project which gave them chances to know more about their own parents. Mr Ma’s son said that this booklet would definitely be part of Ma’s family history, while the Ms Chan’s son even undertook to continue recording the life story of Ms Chan. Volunteer Doris Lye greatly supported his idea as she believed that the life of Ms Chan was really inspiring. “Ms Chan is disabled, and she needs to move around in a wheelchair. Some people may tease on her or even be rude or discriminate against her, but Ms Chan never looks down upon herself. She treasures her life and loves her life so much!”

The project “Senior’s Befriending Program: Writing Life Stories” was a great success. It is hoped that this process of “life affecting life” will continue to spread positive attitudes among the people around us.

<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 295. Please click here>


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