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Build & Wish team’s work bringing hand sanitiser to disadvantaged communities amid Covid-19 earns Spirit of Hong Kong nomination

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 2/8/2020 Eddie Lee eddie.lee@scmp.com
Build & Wish team members Hin and Gary (left to right), fill a hand sanitiser dispenser they installed at a housing estate in Sham Shui Po. Photo: Jonathan Wong © SCMP Build & Wish team members Hin and Gary (left to right), fill a hand sanitiser dispenser they installed at a housing estate in Sham Shui Po. Photo: Jonathan Wong

As Hong Kong battles a devastating third wave of the coronavirus, those living in decades-old tenement blocks across the city are now able to more easily clean their hands to protect themselves from infection - thanks to a specialised team of volunteers.

Working in groups of three, members of the Build & Wish Voluntary Team, have fitted wall-mounted hand sanitiser dispensers in the hallways of more than 1,900 older buildings.

On each errand, they first sounded out residents' interest in the hygiene-promotion project, before then installing the dispensers and recruiting neighbourhood helpers to refill them.

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The Build & Wish Voluntary Team has been nominated for this year's Spirit of Hong Kong Awards for their work bringing hand sanitiser to disadvantaged communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Jonathan Wong © Provided by South China Morning Post The Build & Wish Voluntary Team has been nominated for this year's Spirit of Hong Kong Awards for their work bringing hand sanitiser to disadvantaged communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Hin, who serves as the group's chairman, said that 1,126 Hongkongers, mostly recruited through mobile-messaging platforms, had taken part in the initiative over the past 13 weeks.

"Our volunteers come from all walks of life," he said.

The veteran volunteer, who requested only part of his name be disclosed to keep a low profile, said his group was formed in 2015 with the aim of helping the city's needy, including the elderly.

He said the Build & Wish team began its operations with home improvement projects, because most of the founding members were in the building sector.

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As the charity grew, Hin and his teammates have broadened their mission into used furniture recycling and pest control.

The team also recruits volunteer drivers, who provide free transportation for wheelchair users.

Their work has earned the team a nomination for this year's Spirit of Hong Kong Awards.

The annual event, co-organised by The South China Morning Post and property developer Sino Group, celebrates the accomplishments of remarkable people whose endeavours may go unnoticed.

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Service partner Li Hin-man of the Footprint Voluntary Services Association recommended the Build & Wish team for this year's Spirit of Teamwork award, which recognises unsung groups that embrace their roles as socially responsible corporate citizens.

Hin, from Build & Wish, said the wider range of services his team was now providing illustrated the grim reality of the difficulties faced by underprivileged families on multiple fronts.

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Gary, who joined the Build & Wish team about three years ago and is now responsible for human resources, explained how he had once helped fix a household's windows, only to find that one of the family members living there had special needs.

"The primary school pupil was affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder," said the volunteer, who also wanted to keep a low profile for the charity work he did.

"I wanted to help them with their emotional needs as well as home improvement."

Hin said his team worked closely with social workers to ensure an effective allocation of resources, and expressed gratitude for the support of such NGO partners as Social Career, TY Caring Foundation, Footprint Voluntary Services Association and the Hong Kong Church Network for the Poor.

"We collaborate on our projects and do our best," he said.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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