Connecting the Dots of Various Life Stories

S.H. Ho College has joined the Sentimental Grandparent Scheme in the second consecutive year. Each resident at SAGE Madam Ho Sin Hang Home for the Aged was assigned to a group of two students who paid regular visits for four months and compiled a ‘life story book’ at the end of the scheme. Through listening to the residents’ life journey and how they coped with their ups and downs, students built deep emotional connections with the elderly and had their resilience nurtured to confront their life challenges.

Tan Yuqi, an SHHO graduate, recalled her memory of participating in the elderly caring scheme for the first time in her final year. She was deeply impressed by the arrangement of paying regular elderly home visits. ‘At the very beginning when I touched base with a resident, he was quite passive in revealing his feelings. It was probably due to his impression that all the previous visits by volunteers were one-off, and he didn’t find it necessary to build relationship with volunteers. But we managed to build up trust with the resident after Christmas celebration in December and henceforth the visits every two weeks,’ she remarked. The four-month visits not only equipped her with the essential skills to communicate with the elderly, but also helped her break the generation gap and cultivate friendship with the resident. Mutual trust was gradually built with the elderly: from his hesitation right at the beginning to taking pleasure of sharing his life stories which were narrated in the ‘life story book’.

Voluntary visits are not confined to the relationship of ‘give and take’, but act as catalyst of volunteers’ personal growth. Yuqi discovered transformation in the lives of some participants: Some of them were inspired to treasure the time with family members; some have learnt to care the elderly; some have gained a more profound understanding towards life; and some others have developed deeper self-knowledge. The scheme ended in April 2014, and a dinner sharing session was conducted at S.H. Ho College on 28 April 2014. Volunteers from S.H. Ho College, the University of Hong Kong and Hang Seng Management College came to share with the attendees their encounters with the elderly and their life growth. All of them were presented certificates of service award which signified their breakthroughs in life, and their emotional ties with the elderly residents.

Organized by the Hong Kong Society for the Aged (SAGE), the scheme aims to facilitate cross-generation harmony by providing with the younger generation a communication channel to exchange views with and learn about the life experiences of the elderly, helping the future pillars of the society to care those who reside in the homes for the aged.