Sustainable Future, Hong Kong Tales
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The Freedom of my own Home

LAU Sau King, aged 68, moved into Shun Fung Lau with her family of five in 1988.  She has worked as a volunteer for Yue Kwong Chuen for over a decade, and is now the chairperson of the Shun Fung Lau Mutual Aid Committee.

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Lau repeatedly mentions that, upon arriving in Yue Kwong Chuen in 1988, she immediately gained weight from 110 to 130 pounds.  This was all because she was delighted about finally having her own home.  With her newfound sense of freedom, she would watch TV with her husband after sending their three kids to bed.  Sometimes, the husband would also prepare some late-night snack, “We had rice with chicken, spare ribs or even beef and egg … I couldn’t sleep without the filling snack.”

She still remembers the hard times in the decade before they moved into Yue Kwong Chuen.   In 1978, she and her husband got married and moved to Wong Chuk Hang Estate, where she had to take care of family members from the husband’s side. “There was his grandparents, parents, uncle and cousins.  I had to cook for them, do the daily chores, and take care of my own kids.  It was so tough.”  In order to make the ends meet, she also worked at a nearby factory, “There was only a one-hour lunch break.  I had to go all the way home to eat, and prepare my kids for shower.  If it got cold, we even had to boil our own hot water.  There were no water boilers back then”.  The work was so fatiguing that she had to drink strong tea with milk and extra sugar – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – to make it through the day.

 “It’s much better to have your own place.  I could eat, sleep, and watch the TV whenever I wanted.  Even when the Cantonese oldies showed up on screen, I still didn’t want to sleep,” said Lau with a hearty laugh.

Back then, she thought that her unit at Shun Fung Lau – which faced the southeast and had its own terrace – was only a temporary abode.  There were neighbours who said that Yue Kwong Chuen was to be demolished in five years.  The unit had no partitions except the kitchen and toilet, so they had to partition it with wardrobes.  Nevertheless, they made do with the unit for three decades.  Lau remains content with almost everything in Yue Kwong Chuen.  The only downside is that their unit is on the second floor, “There are many mosquitoes come summer time.  We try to see who could snap away more mosquitoes.”

For the past decade, Lau has devoted herself as a volunteer in the estate.  She is passionate about raising funds for charities, “We raise funds for Tung Wah, Pok Oi, Yan Chai, Po Leung Kuk.  We usually set up stalls on the streets and sometimes visit the residents door by door.”  Lau is always happy to share on her charity work, “Although we don’t raise as many money as Shek Pai Wan Estate or Wah Fu Estate, the important thing is to help those in need.  Yue Kwong Chuen only has about 1,100 households after all.”

Despite the fact that Yue Kwong Chuen might be demolished in the coming years, Lau remains optimistic, “I have never lived in a brand new unit.”  She hopes that the new unit would be bigger.  Back in the 1980s when they applied for these units from the Housing Society, her kids were still young and were counted as “half a person”.  This meant that their 5-person family were only allocated the space of 3.5 persons.  Notwithstanding this, she hopes to continue living in the Southern District, “I know all the neighbours and the air quality is nicer.  These are important factors.”

 

Chloe Lai
Chloe Lai
Issue: #041 - 1 February 2021
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