To date, over 20,000 volunteers are participating in various areas of services under the Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) with ratio of male to female sees an average of 4:6. But just for Mobility Equipment Loan Service, the ratio turns to 6:1 in particular. The outstanding number of male volunteers makes this Service one of a few to be seen as “bromantic”.
According to Leung and Ching, two experienced volunteers of the Mobility Equipment Loan Service, their participation always comes with a simple aim - to give the needy a helping hand and contribute to the society. “Life has its ups and downs and it may not be as easy for some - it is therefore important that we seize the day, not forgetting to always help the ones in need. Equipment repairing isn’t a tough thing to me. Or at some point, I feel comfortable and more focused, since I’m not a good social speaker and the task doesn’t require many social skills.” Started as a beginner 10 years ago, Leung has gradually mastered the trick of wheelchair repairing through the decade. “I used to spend20 to 30 minutes to repair one single wheelchair. With the training from tutor, now it only takes me 10 minutes on all the basic check-up.”
As far as Ching is concerned, damages of wheelchair can often be found at the front wheel and footstep upon equipment return. “Numerous stair steps and curbs in Hong Kong are the common causes of front wheel damage, while carers or users tend to push the wheelchairs without awareness. Also, since the wheels are easily entangled with hair and dirt, you’ll have to remove the entire wheel for a thorough clean-up. There was a time we were all surprised by a wheelchair we collected - cracked front wheel, missing footstep and seriously scratched leather chair back.” To ensure safety, Leung and Ching have to go through every single wheelchair component upon collection, which explains why each volunteer only repairs about 8 to 10 wheelchairs a day.
Despite the effort and patience required, Leung and Ching find wheelchair repairing a very rewarding act, especially when seeing successful rehabilitation cases of their beneficiaries. Even for Leung’s wife, with her body condition not as good in recent days, has also become a dependant on wheelchair. “From a volunteer to one of the beneficiaries, I am more aware of how my volunteering work has helped to make a difference by bringing a positive change in the difficult times of others. Really, when you have the ability to do so, don’t hesitate to help people.”
One time, a mother inquired about loaning a wheelchair via the service hotline, in the hope to bring her mentally disordered son out in the sun to relax. Upon accommodating her request, Kwok, staff of Mobility Equipment Loan Service, and his fellows were motivated knowing the physical and mental support they had offered. “Another patient who has used our loan service for 8 years also expressed her gratitude, saying it is our willingness to pay regular home visit and equipment repairing that encourages her to always come back. Little acts can always run the most. To us, this is a very big acknowledgement of our effort, which motivates us to keep up,” Kwok smiled as he recalled this recent case in his delight.
Mobility Equipment Loan Service
Community healthcare service and education has always been a main concern of the Hong Kong Red Cross. Since 1975, Mobility Equipment Loan Service has been launched to provide budget friendly loan services on mobility equipment like wheelchair, walking frame and elbow crutches etc., accelerating recovery of the physically disabled by alleviating their financial burden. In year 2018/19, the programme has provided loan service to more than 14,000 person times of patients in need - a large tribute to volunteering effort on repairing and maintenance. As in year 2018/19, the programme resulted a monthly average of 450 new loan cases, around 10% increase compared to the previous year.
We wish to extend our services to more people in need through continual volunteer training and enhancement of service quality. We hence ask for your support to invite your family and friends to participate in the “Friends of Red Cross” monthly donation programme, enabling us to support people in need in the community with different kind of humanitarian assistance, aiding them to lead to a truly fulfilling life.