They are brave, determined, humbling, and truly inspiring – young Hong Kong people who rise above difficulties to succeed in their studies and move forward in life against the odds.
This year, CLP Power for the first time partners with the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups in sponsoring the CLP Energy for Brighter Tomorrows award. The programme aims to highlight real-life stories of young people who overcome challenging circumstances and backgrounds through the power of positivity.
CLP Power Chief Corporate Development Officer Quince Chong says: “I know we've got it right when I listen to the real-life stories of these young people.”
In addition to sponsoring the award, CLP also matches employee mentors with the award-winning students to provide them with support and guidance.
One of the mentors, CLP Power Academy senior instructor Jason Yeung, says the students have made a profound impression on him. “For many of them, just living with parents in a decent home is a luxury. The practical help we can give them may not be much but we can listen to them and give them some support and comfort. We can also share our own experiences in overcoming difficulties and offer them advice on academic and career matters.”
Here are the inspiring and life-affirming stories of three of the 20 winners of this year’s award:
Ka Ho was downcast when he and his family left their home in Shanwei in Guangdong province to come to Hong Kong and found themselves in a 100 square feet cubicle home. “I used to live with my family in a three-storey house and I had my own bedroom,” he recalls.
“Life in Shanwei was not luxurious but it was good. I played four hours of basketball every day. But I lost all of that when I came to Hong Kong.”
School was no easier. Not speaking Cantonese, he found himself isolated and without friends. His academic results were poor. He would go alone to the library when classes ended. “I asked myself ‘Why did I give up my good life in Mainland China and come to Hong Kong?’,” he says.
As he reflected on his new life, however, Ka Ho realised his mother had sacrificed a nursing job to move to Hong Kong to support him and his brother. His father told him: “You reap what you sow.”
“I began to realise I had done nothing to change my life and I was just sitting and waiting for opportunities,” he says. “I expected other people to give me light but I forgot that I could also shine.”
He began to work hard at his best subject, maths, and helped classmates who in turn helped him with his Cantonese and English. “I couldn’t change my environment but I could change my mindset,” he says.
Ka Ho kept going to the library and became an avid reader and went on to win a science competition with his brother. With friends and academic success has come new hope. “I am confident I can reach new heights even though I live in a cubicle home,” he says with a happy smile.
Tik Sun grew up in foster homes because his single mother was unwell and unable to care for him. Since childhood, he has only been able to see her at weekends.
“When I was young, I didn’t understand what was happening,” he says. “It wasn’t until I was eight or nine and my mother’s situation was explained to me that I began to sort out my relationship with her.”
Tik Sun rose above his difficulties at home to apply himself to his studies, indulging his passion for geography and astronomy in particular. He has now graduated from secondary school and was accepted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong for its science programme.
“Problems are challenging but they can be solved,” he says. “Are they crises or opportunities? It depends how you think and how you respond to them.
“I have lived under other people’s roofs since childhood. I have learned we cannot take things in life for granted – a mother, food, clothes, even a clean bed. I am grateful for what I have.”
Cornelius was a troublesome pupil. Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and dyslexia in primary school, he felt inferior and lonely and got into fights with other children.
“I was punished by being made to stand outside the staff room during every recess,” he recalls. “My classmates laughed at me.”
His life slowly turned around in secondary school where one teacher told him: “If you can’t cope with today’s difficulties, you won’t be able to face up to tomorrow’s challenges.” Another teacher encouraged him to divert his energy into drama.
Cornelius took to the stage and his talent shone through. A teacher invited him to enter a drama competition and he won the Outstanding Actor award. “Even though my academic results were not good, I had been passionate about movies since I was very young,” he says.
He plans to apply for a place in the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts in pursuit of his dream. “My dream is to become a famous actor and even to go to Hollywood,” an excited Cornelius says.