CUHK S.H. Ho College Social Service Trip to UgandaBrings Hope to Underprivileged Children and Women
Fifteen students of the S.H. Ho College at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) embarked on a 14-day social service trip to Uganda in July. The team of students, led by CUHK Vice-Chancellor Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, offered medical services to orphaned children and vulnerable women, sponsored and assisted in building a student dormitory and paid visits to various children's villages, babies' homes and women centres. Through such activities, the students learnt about the needs of the people they served, and rendered appropriate care and assistance.
The trip was co-organized by CUHK S.H. Ho College and the Watoto Child Care Ministries (Watoto) to help the orphaned children and vulnerable women in Uganda, East Africa. Uganda is one of the world's poorest countries. Frequent domestic conflicts and civil wars have left the nation with a large number of orphaned children, underage mothers, AIDS patients and physically mutilated citizens. Watoto is a holistic care programme providing trauma-counselling and rehabilitation, reconstructive surgery, HIV/AIDS treatment as well as formal and technical education for children and abandoned women in Uganda, aiming at nurturing future leaders of Uganda. CUHK and Watoto have agreed on a long-term partnership to provide medical services, management and training of productive citizens in Uganda. For example, the Faculty of Medicine will send students and professors there every year to offer medical care and education; members of the Faculty of Business Administration will also offer management training to help enhance the operation standard of local enterprises, as well as assist local women in starting their own businesses.
'CUHK has been actively supporting students to participate in social and civil services around the globe with an aim to develop their sense of civil citizenship, groom their moral character and promote personal growth. The trip to Uganda allowed students to understand various social issues in underprivileged areas and think about how they can make a difference to the lives of the people there. It is also a valuable cultural and spiritual experience for them to reflect upon their personal values,' said Professor Sung, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK.
'S.H. Ho College has always made a point of providing students with diversified overseas learning experience. We aim at allowing 80% of our students to go on overseas exchange or social service programmes. The College implements full residence and communal dining to encourage cultural exchanges among local, mainland and international students, widening their global perspective. We identify with Watoto's mission to raise the next generation of African leaders by pursuing excellence in academic, practical skills and moral values. The Uganda trip has helped students realize how they can contribute to the world with their knowledge,' said Prof. Samuel Sun, Master of S.H. Ho College.
Making the First Medical Consultation
Under the leadership of Professor Sung, five students from the Faculty of Medicine learnt to do physical check-up, make diagnosis and provide guidance to the locals on proper treatment and care. Sharon Tsang, a year one Medical student, had the chance to make her first consultation to a child in Uganda, 'It was truly a valuable experience to conduct my first-ever physical check-up and diagnosis under the guidance of Professor Sung. I've learnt from Professor Sung the importance of communication, patience and care towards patients, which cannot be learnt in books. Health is a gift in life. The trip has strengthened my determination to become a doctor and offer the gift to those in need.'
Building a Dormitory with Bare Hands
Watoto children's villages are constructed in the form of small, vibrant communities where orphaned children are housed, clothed, fed and educated. Every village has its school and clinic. Joining hands with local workers, Professor Sung and the 15 students built a student dormitory in a village sponsored by S.H. Ho College with their bare hands. 'We stacked up the bricks one by one in the simmering heat of the sun, and our spirit remained high. To speed up our work, we even took off the gloves despite the fact that the bricks were coated in dirt. Before and after work, the local workers would hold hands with us to sing and pray. It was an unforgettable experience to have worked with the local people towards the same goal regardless of our skin colours or nationalities,' said Shen Jun, a year one mainland student.
A Child in Uganda: 'I Want to be a President'
The students paid visits to many children's villages and organized fun games for the residents there. Such games included balloon twisting, rope skipping, football and sketching. The students were deeply inspired by the positive attitude of the children. Lau Chak-lui, a year one Nursing student, said, 'The children are passionate, well-mannered and have their own aspirations. A child told me with determination that he wanted to be the president of Uganda. As the birth rate is uncontrolled in Uganda, many children lack basic necessities and education. I felt sad and wondered how long it would take and how much help it would need for the children to leave poverty behind. I believe we all can contribute to help the unfortunate, as long as we take the first step.'
Bringing Hope to Vulnerable Women
The students also visited the 'Living Hope Women Centre' which accommodates abandoned or widowed women, unwed mothers, women with AIDS and disabled women, to give manicures and facial treatment to them. It was hoped that through such services, the women could feel the love and confidence they deserve. The students also helped to feed babies and change diapers at the babies' homes. 'During the visit to a handicraft workshop where women contracted with AIDS worked, looking into their eyes, I did not find a trace of desperation or sorrow, but only joy and optimism.' said Andy Cheung, year one Pharmacy student.
At the end of the trip, 10 students decided to sponsor Henry, a six-year-old boy in Suubi village. New to the village, Henry was quiet and anxious. The students presented him with a T-shirt of S.H. Ho College written with all their wishes – 'You will always be supported', 'May health and happiness be always with you', 'Let me be your teacher when you have the chance to study in CUHK'. Henry put on the tee shirt with a smile, hugging each of his 'parents'.