Monthly Archives: January 2014

S2S 12HR Relay Event

Posted by Peter MUIR

S2Srelay logoThe S2S Relay (sunrise to sunset) aims to create a fun fitness challenge for all ages while raising money for a charity that is being supported by senior students at DC. The charity we are supporting this year is the Chungking Mansion Refugee Service Centre.

Held 8.00am to 8.00pm, Saturday, March 1st, the S2S will teams challenge themselves in a 12-hour charity relay to promote a healthy, active lifestyle to the community. The relay is open to children and adults alike, and is an un-timed, friendly relay-styled race where participants set their own pace and compete only against their personal goals.  The key goal being for you team to complete as many laps of the 1.35km course around Siena Park, Discovery Bay.

Here is an opportunity for you to challenge yourself to do as many laps as you can around Siena Park with your team. There is no requirement on how quickly you complete laps, whether it be running, walking, or strolling, so feel no pressure whatsoever!  So get a team together and sign up today!

DB Green Beach clean up

Posted by Peter MUIR

DB GreenDB Green will be holding there first beach clean up for 2014 this coming Sunday.  The clean up will take place at Sam Pak Wan (the beach just past the North Plaza in DB) this Sunday from 9.30am to 12pm.  This clean up will be a bit more special than most, as the media will be there for a production / related stories, so it will be great for you to show your support and make a big turnout for the start of the year. Everyone welcome. Gloves & bags supplied. BYO refillable water bottle.

Feeding Hong Kong Chinese New Year Food Drive

Posted by Peter MUIR

Fill a bag and feed a family in need this February!

Chinese New Year is a time for families to gather and celebrate over a special meal. But for 1 in 5 people in Hong Kong living in poverty, the Lunar Festival will be another week where they struggle to simply eat enough.  Here is a message from Feeding Hong Kong, seeking support for their Chinese New Year food drive to help them ensure that no-one goes hungry this February.

How can you help?

Below is a list of our most needed food items and some special items in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Simply distribute the list to friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to fill a grocery bag with wholesome and nutritious foods. Set up a central collection area in your office, school, clubhouse or community centre and watch over the donations as they roll in! At the end of your food drive, simply give us a call to schedule a pick-up by the FHK van. Who will benefit?
Feeding Hong Kong supports local welfare organisations that provide food support to those in need in our city.  Our 47 charity partners include shelters for the homeless, migrant worker and women’s refuges, senior day centers and other non-profit programmes that provide food to the hungry. With your support, we can make a special delivery to them this Chinese New Year.

What next?
RSVP and advise:

  • Name and address of your organisation
  • Key contact person (name, email, tel)
  • Date of your food drive (can last a day, a week or as long as a month!)
How can I support as an individual?
You can drop off your donation of groceries at our warehouse.Our most needed items this month:
                                Canned Fruit                                                                                                          
Pineapple, peaches etc in natural fruit juice or light syrup                                                                                              
Something special for Chinese New Year:                

Canned bamboo shoots                Canned/dried mushrooms                   Vermicelli
Low sodium, in water                Whole, straw, black fungus etc.       Sealed or vacuum packs

     Dried shrimps                                         Red dates                                                Soy sauce
Sealed or vacuum packs               Sealed or vacuum packs                                 Low sodium

A video from the elephant girl

Posted by Peter MUIR

Celia Ho, a 14-year-old student from True Light Girls College in Kowloon, has made a name for herself as “The elephant girl” for her internationally recognized work in preventing the illegal ivory trade.   Here is a story on her work featured in the South China Morning Post last September.

You too can assist Celia in her work. Here is he organisations Facebook page where you can find more details.  Below is a message from Celia about a new promotional video she has produced.

To spread the ivory ban idea and reach schools as far as possible, I filmed a 12-min video introducing the history and impact of ivory trade, habits of elephants and my ‘Schools United for Elephants’ campaign, in both English and Mandarin, directed by Miss Josefina Bergsten. The English version is presented first (with a quote from ‘BloodIvory’).  Hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment and share.

Wanted – organisers of Ethical Consumer week.

Posted by Peter MUIR

DC will again be hosting the Ethical Consumer Week next month, and we are looking for Year 10 students to organize it.  Those who sign up will be work together to organize to create awareness about what it means to be an ethical consumer, and the impact we as consumers have on our Earth and each other. Keen to get involved?  Then click here to sign up.  Places are limited, so sign up asap (and yes, your involvement could be considered a C&S project).

Supporting our neighbours

Posted by Peter MUIR

A number of DC students have been active in delivering community engagement activities in Yat Tung, an estate in the Tung Chung area.  Here is a report on the group’s work, written by Year 12 student Boris Choy.

Ironically enough, applying international mindedness, a key aspect of IB programmes, can sometimes mean a lack of focus on issues that are closer to home.  Home is Hong Kong, the country where we all live. Being a hub of expat activity, Discovery Bay is a prime example of a community with little incidence of, or exposure to, many of the real-life problems threatening the Hong Kong demographic. To be frank, we live very privileged lifestyles, blessed with surplus and good education.

Not all of the same can be said about other areas of Hong Kong including our very own next-door neighbour, Tung Chung.  In regards to areas like this, we are sometimes told by our parents to avoid them, “for your own safety” they say. Yet, while we can ignore the impoverished or underdeveloped neighbourhoods and live in isolation, it does not change the nature of their existence. Outside of the business districts and the suburban lifestyle we find ourselves in are indications of Hong Kong’s massive wealth disparity.

Yat Tung Estate is a government subsidised residential structure provided for Tung Chung inhabitants, many of whom struggle to pay rent. A lot of these residents are patrons of the Comprehensive Social Security (CSS) programme, which provides financial support for basic housing and education. Located not so far from Tung Chung’s shiny central business district, the Yat Tung Estate houses half of Tung Chung’s resident population; many of these families have roots from Pakistani, Indian, Nepalese, and Mainland Chinese minority groups.

The majority of Yat Tung households suffer a huge financial struggle, as entire working families earn less than HKD 20,000 by the month. Money, or the shortage of it, is often the foundation for series of domestic problems such as violence, corporal punishment, and home gambling dens. Often cases have been found where women who have emigrated from the mainland cannot report cases of abuse because they rely on their husbands for residency or financial stability. Hong Kong triads and drug rings also take advantage of the neglected position these people are in to conduct illicit trade, often resulting in a path taken with negative results.

As a result of the impoverished lifestyle, the Yat Tung area has been plagued by tragedy in recent years. Often residents are reminded of their frustrating situations by incidences of suicide, gang violence, or drug related problems. This is a lifestyle that has taken its toll on the youth. With 40 percent of residents being under 18, a positive environment is essential to allow for a future or career outside of the poverty cycle that plagues Yat Tung. Without this positive environment, many find themselves subject to lives of petty crime or susceptible to involvement with the triads and the illicit drug trade.

Harriet Cheng, Discovery College’s social worker who also acts for the Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council, is offering solutions at a grassroots level. With 45 DC student-volunteers from Years 7-13, Harriet and her crew recently visited Yat Tung Estate. While they understand that change at government level will take time, they are not distracted from supporting what matters – the people. Often, volunteers find themselves in all sorts of places immersed in interaction with the community.

With focus towards the youth, they frequent Kindergartens, organising programmes of games and activities for to invoke a child’s creativity and initiative. This allows them to worry less about misfortunes close to them and gives them a chance to achieve something better. On the other side of the spectrum, Yat Tung is home to host of elderly people surviving on little or no income. What is worse, lack of family means that they are perpetually lonely. The prospect of cheerful volunteers gives them someone to talk to, someone to listen to, to share their stories with. “They all need someone there to know that they don’t have to go through all of it by themselves.” says Harriet, “Someone to show that people do care.”

Students have been humbled by how gratefully Yat Tung residents received them and their support. Year 11 DC student Chantel Woo found it “surprising how little gestures that don’t take much on our part, like taking the elderly oatmeal and toothbrushes, can really brighten up their day.”

Chantel felt also that by giving a little, she was receiving a little. She feels that her exposure to another side of Hong Kong has helped her break the international school bubble and better understand the disparity in Hong Kong, a reflection that Harriet aims to achieve for all her volunteers. “Because we are an international school, we focus on issues all over the world, but this sometimes leaves us isolated from all of the things happening around us.” attests Harriet, “These are the homes and the lives of Hong Kong people.” Such focus on local issues will help to support our own population.

For the Love of Erika

Posted by Peter MUIR

15-year-old Taylor Leong from the US founded “For the Love of Erika“, an annual holiday toy drive that provides children in hospitals and homeless shelters with gifts during the holidays, in 2005 in honour of her best friend Erika Gould, who passed away from brain cancer. Taylor used her talent of making gifts for Erika, with her passion for uplifting people’s spirits, in order to grieve the loss of her best friend, and as well to bring smiles to children’s faces during the holidays.  In the past nine years, Taylor has collected and personally delivered more than 8,000 gifts to disadvantaged children during the holiday season. “For the Love of Erika” has partnerships with 6 hospitals and 15 homeless shelters and through her partnerships with local businesses, Taylor also hosts three annual holiday parties for more than six homeless shelters that have raised more than $200,000 since its founding.  Taylor aspires to expand “For the Love of Erika” throughout hew home state, as well as to engage more youth in her community in service opportunities.

The Women’s Foundation Discussion Group

Posted by Peter MUIR

The Women’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong, is seeking a small group of students to participate in a discussion group about the role and presence of women in the local media.   The information gained from the discussion group will be used as a part of The Women’s Foundation’s production of a Hong Kong version of the American documentary, Miss Representation.

This film has been developed to address the issue of gender stereotyping in the Hong Kong media, which has damaging consequences for the self-esteem and well-being of women and girls. TWF’s documentary will explore how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and disparaging portrayals of women.

The discussion group will be facilitated at by the film’s director, radio-personality Crystal Kwok, and it should prove to be an educational and empowering experience for those students invovled. Ideally, the students would be able to speak both English and Cantonese and we would be able to meet with them before the Chinese New Year holidays.

At this time, the foundation is looking for a group of 6 to 8 girls and 6 to 8 boys, between the ages of 12 to 18, that can speak both English and Cantonese.  The first meeting will take place from 4:00pm to 6:00pm on one of the following dates – January 26th, 27th, 28th or 29th (to be based on student availability).  If you are interested, please email directly The Women’s Foundation’s Senior Officer Tiffany Leung at

HK Shark Foundation Petition

Posted by Peter MUIR

SharkThe Hong Kong Shark Foundation is asking for your support!  Following their successful petition last year, where 10,000 signatures convinced the government to remove shark-fin from menus for official functions, the organisation is holding a petition to get shark products off the menu.  Here is their message…

We would like to invite you to sign the Hong Kong petition “Remove shark-related products, including fins, from the menus of all Traditional Chinese Restaurants/Food Outlets, unless the products are proven to be from a sustainable source” which will be used to lobby owners of Key Hong Kong restaurants to stop serving sharking fin.

The previous petition you signed (to lobby the HK government to ban shark fin from official functions) reached the target of 10,000 signatures and in 2013 the government did just this and banned shark fin from official functions.

Signing is easy click the link below and it will take you to the signature page

The conservation of shark populations remains an urgent use, but significant progress is being made, please help us keep the momentum going.

HK Government needs to rethink its waste management policy

Posted by Peter MUIR

You may be aware that the Environment Bureau has proposed to build a mega-incinerator to handle 3,000 tons of waste daily at Shek Kwu Chau, a pristine island near Cheung Chau.  This proposal has been strongly rejected by many, citing the technology proposed to be outdated, and because of the environmental impacts that it will have.  Many residents on Lantau are concerned about the possible air pollutants that this project will create.   What do you know about this issue?  How will you be affected if the proposal goes ahead?

Here is an article from the South China Morning Post (January 4, 2014) on HK’s proposed waste policy, including the incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau.

Government needs to rethink its waste management policy

We see that the forces in favour of building a large incinerator near Shek Kwu Chau are coming together for another push at getting the project approved by the Legislative Council. A South China Morning Post story recently reported that a group of academics and professionals were calling on the government to scale back landfill and get on with building the incinerator.

“We need to act now, or this will end with rubbish piling up on the streets,” said Professor Poon Chi-sun, of Polytechnic University’s civil and environmental engineering department and spokesman for the new Alliance for Promoting Sustainable Waste Management for Hong Kong. Poon says the government is right to adopt moving-grate technology – in which waste goes through a combustion chamber – in its incinerator plan, adding that the technology is used in 2,000 plants around the world.

What he doesn’t say, however, is that the number of operating incinerators and the installation of new ones is declining. In the United States, the number of moving-grate incinerators dropped from 186 in 1990 to 87 in 2010. In Japan, it fell 25 per cent between 1998 and 2005. In Europe, there is an overcapacity of incinerators because of successful recycling efforts. Not so long ago, New York City issued a tender for a waste management facility specifying that it did not want offers using traditional moving-grate technology.

Professor Irene Lo Man-chi, of the University of Science and Technology’s department of civil and environmental engineering, said the technology had been proved to be a reliable option that was safe in terms of emissions. This is a moot point, and there are peer-reviewed reports showing abnormally high death rates and incidence of cancer among people living near incinerators. We accept that modern incinerators produce less emissions but that is not to say they are safe.

One technology that is known to produce far less emissions than incineration is plasma gasification. However this is dismissed as the wrong choice by Lo, who says it wouldn’t be able to cope with Hong Kong’s volume of waste. And by way of support, she says that problems with plasma technology had led to the closure of a 10-year-old plant in Japan. She omits to say that the plant was closed because it ran out of feedstock. She also appears oblivious to the number of plasma gasification projects that are springing up all over the world.

Ever since the incinerator project was introduced, the Environment Bureau has refused to budge from its insistence that it must be built, even with the change of leadership at the bureau. It also continues with the politically expedient reasons for locating the incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau rather than at Tsang Tsui near Tuen Mun. But it is clear to many people that if any progress is to be made on this, then some aspects of the plan have to be rethought. About 42 per cent of Hong Kong’s waste that goes to landfills is food waste and is between 70 and 90 per cent water.

Clear the Air chairman James Middleton has spoken to three engineers who say it is perfectly feasible for food waste to be shredded at source using garburators and disposed of down the drain and handled by the Stonecutters water treatment plant, which is currently operating at 50 per cent capacity. This idea has been incorporated into the thinking of the New Territories Concern Group, which, after visiting various waste treatment plants, including plasma gasification projects in Europe, produced a report supporting the use of plasma technology. The group is politically significant and includes Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who, in addition to being a former president of the Hong Kong Law Society, also has the distinction of having deposed Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat as chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee.

In addition to its support for disposing of food waste at source, the report suggests gasification as a more mature and appropriate technology to meet Hong Kong’s present and future waste management needs. It recommends the establishment of one or more pilot plants to determine the suitability of gasification technology for Hong Kong. This approach would give Hong Kong considerable breathing space for it to take another look at the options available rather than its current approach, which is making little progress.