There is no calculating who is being helped or how much is given. What matters is the immeasurable grace that carries us through. A span of half a century does not diminish my gratefulness for a benefactor for my younger brother from afar. This love travelled through oceans to bring warmth to my younger brother and me.
I (right), my younger brother and mum have made a good family.
A Childhood without Enough Food
Younger Brother Received Sponsorship
My dad passed away due to illness in the early years. Mum took dual parenting roles since then. We nestled in a hut in a back alley in Mongkok. She was working in construction sites and sustained frequent bodily injuries. But she’d rather skip resting time to collect waste metal in exchange for extra money. My brother and I used to get on with an empty stomach. I always fumbled in mum’s basket for food the first thing she came home.
A kind neighbor took heed of our desolate situation and recommended us to seek assistance from Plan International. I remember when being interviewed by Plan International’s staff, I was quick to reply to my career wish was to become a driver! My younger brother voiced out his will to be a teacher. Not long after, my younger brother had Ms. Hall from Ottawa, Canada as a sponsor. My family received HK$45 as subsidy on school tuition. Ms Hall was more concerned with the quality of education and suggested that we should attend a church-background primary school to ensure we received whole-person development.
Eye-opening Exposures That Spared Us from Being Street Kids
There was not much entertainment in my childhood. The major past time activity for my brother and I was straying around in streets or parks. We were young to fall to luring of complications and misleads such as skipping school under the persuasion of classmates. All thanks go to mum, teachers and foster mother for their patience in guiding us back onto the right path. They encouraged us to participate in proper group activities, to expand our interests and social circles with positive associations.
Foster mother’s advice and examples impacted me a great deal, although I was not the direct beneficiary. Limited means for livelihood led us to ignore long-term targets back in those days. We spent a day as it came. Dreams for the future were far-fetched and extravagant. When foster mother offered to support my younger brother through college years, we were overjoyed. This unconditional commitment also awoke me that there are multitudes of paths out in a big world. I turned hopeful towards the future from that moment onward.
Throughout the sponsorship period, my brother and I kept in touch with foster mother through letters. Each of her letters was priceless. Her sharing inspired us on how big and wide this world was. We were keen to look up in the dictionary in order to understand her messages. What a good way to improve my English.
Through Plan International, my younger brother received HK$45 as subsistence that greatly relieved my family. (From the right: me, my mother, younger brother, and another long-lost younger brother.)
An Unforgettable Meet-up with Foster Mother’s Parents Gratefulness Always Lingers
My brother and I recall on foster mother’s parents’ visit to Hong Kong. They were so kind to hire a vehicle to take us to the Pearl Island in Tuen Mun. As Kowloon dwellers, the New Territories was totally new to us. The winding, endless coastlines appeared to be a beautiful another world. Foster mother’s parents were elegant and unassuming. They treated us like their family. We can still feel their love.
When I learned that Plan International was to be back in 2009, I decided to take after my foster mother’s selfless love in sponsoring other children. Now, I have two from China and Nepal respectively. It does not cost much and I am determined to help the needy. I believe love can change the world.
I have been hoping to meet foster mother to express our gratitude in person. However, I have not been able to reach her. Her unconditional commitment and love from the other side of the world will always have a place in our hearts.
I hope to meet my foster mother one day to say “thank you” in person.
Ex-Beneficiary – Mr. Joseph Li