‘Knowledge can change one’s destiny. By knowing the importance of education and personal development, grassroots children can bring positive influence, first to their families and then to the community.’

Passing on the spirit of helping others

Bobo was from a grassroots family, and she is now a volunteer tutor of the ‘Children development and support scheme’, a project of The Salvation Army Shamshuipo Family Support (“Family Support”). She serves children from a number of grassroots families in Sham Shui Po, providing homework guidance and emotional support services. Bobo and her family are no strangers to The Salvation Army – in 2016, Bobo’s mother started receiving food packs from the Food Assistance Project of the Family Support. During the pandemic, Family Support kept in touch with Bobo’s family and sent them anti-pandemic supplies. “I am particularly moved by their selfless commitment. Despite the risk of pandemic, they brought us the supplies to our door in person.” The work of the Family Support has made it possible for Bobo to focus on her studies and finish her master degree, and this has become one of the reasons for Bobo to volunteer in teaching and helping others.

Caring for the studies and mental health of grassroots children

Many grassroots children are not able to catch up with school work or even lose the interest of studying because of many reasons – they are living in a clamped environment; the family has no extra money for them to take tutorial classes, or their parents are busy working and have no time to help them with homework. When Bobo started teaching, she found that it was difficult for some students to understand her lessons. Bobo then made adjustments according to the progress and learning ability of each student, using easier and simpler way to teach. She also works with other teachers and designs games that students can play in the lessons, trying to make learning more interesting for the children.

The mental health of students is also of great importance for Bobo. She wants to let them know that she is her tutor and also a friend, someone they can trust and share their feelings. Through some trials and errors, Bobo has gained students’ trust – they open up to her and share feelings with her, and this improves their mental wellbeing as they no longer bottle up the negative emotions.

Inspiring students to give back to the community

“The students know that I am not too much older than they are. I am more like a senior to them and they find it easier to accept my teaching.” She shared with them that when she was small she was no different to them; she was not interested in studies either and did not see why studying was important for her future. As she grew older, she realised that with knowledge she can improve life for herself and family, and now with her job as a teacher, the whole family has a better quality of life. Some students once asked her why she had time to teach them, she explained that because she was a student in university, she had more free time to develop herself and help others, and if they also put their heart on studies they will also go to university one day. One student said “I will work hard and when I finish my studies, I want to become a teacher like Bobo who helps other children.”

“Being able to help others in need with the ability that we have is a wonderful thing.” She hoped she can help more grassroots children to improve their performance at school and build a good foundation for their future studies. She also wants to be an example for them, and show them through her action the beauty of giving back to the community.

The Salvation Army Shamshuipo Family Support Networking Team
started its services for Sham Shui Po district in 2003, focusing on proactive outreach services, early recognition of families in need and early intervention for them. Current service targets include low-income families and new arrival families in Sham Shui Po. Through understanding their needs in aspects such as family, employment, economy and housing, Family Support team refers them to applicable social welfare services and financial assistance, such as working family allowance, transitional housing and food bank, so as to reduce their daily life burden. During the pandemic, Family Support launched the ‘Children development and support scheme’, inviting young people with the same grassroots background to be tutors and help children in need with their homework. The project aims to create equal learning opportunity for these children and build up a mutual support network among families through connecting with these children.