I am Kwun-yuk. I was born in 1949 to a family with parents, an elder sister and a younger sister. Dad drew for a living. But in economic downtime, people were unlikely to be interested in paintings. Life turned more unbearable after my mom passed away when I was ten.
I used to take classes on rooftop school organized by the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong and had the luck to have Plan International liaised with an American couple for being my sponsors in 1961. With HK$45 and other daily necessity items received each month, I could attend regular education in a better school for the first time. My foster parents also sent me other gifts and pocket money every Christmas and Easter. I always wrote back to thank for their kindness.
My foster father was an American film producer and director. The movie, “633 Squadron” was his work.
Foster Parents Visited Us And Took Us to Eye-opening Outings
My foster father, Mr. Rod Serling was an acclaimed film producer in the States. I always remember his bright smiles and my foster mother’s sweetness and elegance. Their first visit to us was linked by an interpreter. Foster parents got to understand our daily lives from talks with dad. He appreciated dad’s paintings quite well, too. They also took me and my younger sister to a cinema to watch “633 Squadron”, which was produced and directed by him. It was my first viewing of a western movie. Besides the theme of war, I understood neither a word nor twists in it. But I grew a pique for western movies ever since.
After the movie, foster parents took us to a department store and bought us many beautiful clothes and gifts. They let us try on new clothes in the Peninsula Hotel, where they were staying. I remember the embarrassing scene that my younger sister needed my foster mother to show her how to flush a toilet! We dined in a hotel restaurant and took many photos there. What a wonderful time we had! And my kind foster parents decided to sponsor my younger sister together with me after that trip.
Foster parents had visited me and younger sister many times, leaving us unforgettable memories.
Bittersweet Memories after the Passing of Dad
We were saddened by dad’s passing in early 1964. My married elder sister moved back in and took care of us. It was so kind of my sister and also hard on my brother-in-law since livelihood for a family of six through wool weaving works really took a toll on him.
Foster parents visited us again and comforted us at this moment. We travelled by ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui Pier to a department store on Hong Kong island and we had lunch there. Our relationship gets much closer after this visit. This time when the interpreter asked whether I liked certain things, I was bold enough to say “yes” and “no”. I also felt comfortable taking their hands to feel that sense of togetherness. When they kissed us goodbye on our foreheads, sadness in air pressed me hard. I could hardly see them leave but having all the tears in my eyes.
Foster parents had two daughters, still never short of love for me and my younger sister. They sent us to school and improved our livelihood. Their kindness always moves me deeply.
A Loss in Life without A Chance to Express Gratitude
I had to quit school in Form 1 to help my sister to make a living. There, I had to cut ties with Plan International and my dear foster parents. I always save a place for them in my heart for they did not hesitate to love us and provide us with what we need despite the distance. Their journeys to see us with gifts, love and warmth etched memories in me and my younger sister. In 1999, I flew to San Francisco to witness my daughter’s graduation, at the same time, hoping to meet my foster parents again and tell them I have been thankful and missing them a lot. But this was wishful thinking to search for someone in an unfamiliar place. So, I turn my gratitude into actions to sponsor a Bangladesh girl and a Vietnamese boy through Plan International. The two children are both darlings to heart.
I was exhilarated to learn of Plan International returning to Hong Kong. I also volunteer at Plan’s events and activities.
Last September, I found out foster father had passed away in 1975 at the age of 57. I could not hold back my tears. Had foster mother been alive, she would be over 90 years old. To me, it is a loss, not being able to thank them in person. Although it is challenging for someone with only 6 years of education to recollect all happenings half a century ago in writing, I press on to tell you my story using simple language, to express my gratitude to my foster parents and their “love from afar”.
Ex-Beneficiary – Ms. YUEN Kwun-yuk