THE ELDERLY BEFRIENDER
Death has always been seen as taboo in Chinese society. Most people would not want to be involved in funeral arrangements unless the deceased is a close kin. But one Hong Kong woman has taken on this somber task willingly.
Susan Lam Kwai-ha lives by the Christian precept, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. The 60-year-old quietly devotes her time, love and concern to assist a group of lonely and destitute elderly in Hong Kong. She even arranges their funeral rites so they can “come to the world in joy, live with dignity and rest in peace”.
Lam left school early because her family was poor. Growing up in a squatter area near Lei Cheng Uk, she spent many days listening to the sad stories of the lonely and destitute elderly who lived in her neighbourhood. She knew she had to help them.
She joined the Hong Kong People’s Council on Public Housing Policy (PCPHP) as a volunteer in 1989 at the age of 39 and helped to resettle the destitute elderly when their homes in Tsz Wan Shan Estate were demolished. She assisted them with renovation work and paid them regular visits. Over time, a deep friendship between them was formed.
In order to continue helping the elderly affected by housing resettlement plans, Lam set up the “Banyan Elderly Services Association” with two friends in 1995. That year, she encountered the case of an elderly man who died in a car accident. No-one had come forward to claim his body. The law states that when a body is left unidentified for more than six months, the government will give the deceased a serial number and bury him in a barren land. There is no dignity in such a process.
The Association took on the case and arranged a proper funeral for this unknown man. Over the last 15 years, the Association has helped more than 20 deceased elderly with their funerals and interments. An “Elderly Befrienders” scheme was specially set up in 2007 to deal with the arrangements for the elderly at the end of their life.
As the saying goes, “As you sow, so you shall reap”. Lam, however, does not think much of rewards. “In fact, I am grateful to these elderly for giving me an opportunity to serve them. When they were alive, they were neglected and deprived of family’s love and concern. I only hope that at the end of their journey, there are volunteers to help them leave the world with dignity and achieve a good ending.”
|Joseph Alexander Renang on 22 February 2012 ,13:52 |
Thanks for the wonderful articles and they really help me with my Moral teaching at college. Thank you once again.
|san san ohn on 18 May 2011 ,16:55 |
She was doing the great events but some people don`t want to do it.I am proud of her work.When the death in close relations the rest of the family had full of grief.At that time like Susan Lam had arranged everything for that people.I like all the articles of 2010 Asians of the Year.These four women are in Asia and they all are the heroes.I like to read more articles of Health smart,Joke,My story and Bonus state in Reader`s Digest Magazine.I couldn`t not stay without reading this RD magazine every month and there is pile up of old books in my house but i will be kept it forever for next generation.
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