Hong Kong District Celebrates Welfare Anniversary
Contributed By Heather Whittle Wrigley, Church News and Events
“All walked away with a burning desire to lift those that are in need and with a better understanding about how to use the resources that we have as members of the Church to fulfill Christ’s charge.”—Noble F. Coker, first counselor in the Hong Kong China District presidency
It was a unique day of service on Saturday, December 3, 2011, when dozens of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the Hong Kong China District assembled humanitarian kits and learned about poverty in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Church welfare system.
About 50 members from three local branches, representing different languages and ethnicities, came together in yellow Helping Hands vests. The day’s events began with an educational activity organized by Crossroads, a Hong Kong-based non-profit organization.
Teams of 8 to 10 people acted as families to produce and sell goods to other people acting as shopkeepers. From the money they earned, they had to pay for rent and food. They could also sell possessions to earn money. If they could save enough money, they could send one family member to school. There were classes that family members could take, but that meant one less person in the family making and selling goods. If they borrowed money, they had to pay it back with interest.
“The opportunity to experience poverty . . . was life-changing,” Hong Kong China District president and area counsel David M. Berrett said of the activity. “The choice between having shelter and selling off a possession . . . became very real.”
“[It opened] our eyes and hearts to the experiences the less fortunate have each day,” said local member Michelle Wright, also a participant. “It caused me to think how I might better love and serve ‘the least of these’” (see D&C 42:37–38).
At the end of the simulation, many participants mentioned how anxious they felt having to provide for their “families” and the desperation and hopelessness they felt about ever finding a way out of poverty.
Following a meager lunch—also part of the experience—participants, with a new understanding of what it means to be impoverished, assembled some 750 humanitarian kits. These containers were later loaded onto vehicles for distribution throughout Asia.
Noble F. Coker, first counselor in the district presidency, noted that many district members only have Sundays off because of employment constraints, so many of them prepared and packed hygiene kits on several different days before the actual day of the activity.
President Berrett said the activity “provided a wonderful context for our work of assembling hygiene kits for disaster victims. Our days of service have caused me to think deeply how we can better assist Heavenly Father’s children.”
Participants also helped build a cement wall around a garden at the Crossroads facility and weeded the garden as well.
“The Crossroads team that hosted the event ensured that all walked away with a burning desire to lift those that are in need and with a better understanding about how to use the resources that we have as members of the Church to fulfill Christ’s charge,” President Coker concluded.